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HOW MUCH PROTEIN SHOULD I EAT?
Protein is a nutrient found in many types of foods. It is vital for life. How much protein you need depends on several factors—including age, sex, health status and activity level.
The body needs a regular supply of protein to make and repair cells. In addition to muscles, organs, hair, eyes and other body tissues are primarily made from protein. Anytime your body is growing or repairing itself, protein is needed. This nutrient also helps: fight infection; carry fats, vitamins, minerals and oxygen around the body; build and contract muscles; keep body fluids in balance; clot blood.
Foods that Contain Protein—Both animal and plant foods contain protein. Some of these foods are better choices. Foods rich in protein may also be high in saturated fat. High intakes of saturated fat may increase risk for heart disease. Thus, too much protein from these sources may be harmful for your heart. As a general rule, limit protein foods that are high in saturated fats, such as: bacon, chicken fried steak, Chorizo sausage, fried chicken, hot dogs, lunch meats, organ meats, processed meats, sausage and spare ribs; breaded and fried fish and shellfish; whole milk and other whole fat dairy products.
In contrast, numerous lean sources of protein are considered heart-healthy. Eating plans that include low-fat dairy products, skinless poultry, fish, beans, lentils and soy foods such as tofu and tempeh may help improve blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Here are some nutritious protein food options: lean cuts of beef, pork loin, skinless chicken and turkey; salmon, tuna, cod, shrimp; low-fat or fat-free yogurt, milk, cheese, cottage cheese; beans, lentils, soy, peanut butter; walnuts, almonds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds.
Getting the Right Amount of Protein: For a female 51 years and older, 5-ounce equivalents; for a male 51 years and older, 5-1/2 ounce equivalents.