Maintain a healthy balance of protein
By Jeanne Millsap Sun-Times Media October 9, 2012 2:56PM
High-calorie, high-protein: Trail mix makes a great high-calorie, high-protein snack. | File photo
Day’s healthy menu with
Breakfast: Two hard boiled eggs, two pieces whole wheat toast and one half grapefruit
Snack: Apple with peanut butter
Lunch: One medium baked potato with one pat butter, salad with lean chicken breast, lettuce, radish, onion and reduced fat dressing
Snack: Greek yogurt with fruit or almonds
Dinner: Grilled salmon, baked sweet potato, tomato and asparagus
Source: Stanley Bielawski, Silver Cross Hospital dietician, and Dr. Deirdra Greathouse, Silver Cross family practice physician
Updated: November 11, 2012 6:17AM
We must consume protein. We know that. The protein we eat is broken up into the tiny amino acids that regroup and form the proteins every single cell in our bodies needs to function. And as Americans, we are fortunate to have foods high in protein readily available.
But with that, comes a caveat — don’t eat too much of it.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most of us eat more protein than we need. And that can be unhealthy.
Animal sources of protein can have high levels of saturated fat, which is linked to increased blood levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and increased risks of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some types of cancer, according to the American Heart Association.
So how can we keep up our daily need for protein while keeping the intake at a healthy level?
Silver Cross Hospital family practice physician Dr. Deirdra Greathouse, with C&R Medical Group, said moderation and portion control is the key.
“You don’t have to have meat every day,” Greathouse said. “I don’t recommend my patients eat large quantities of meat, especially red meat, which is high in cholesterol. Portions of meat should be no larger than your fist. If you do eat red meat, eat it in moderation and make sure you have a balanced diet. Variety is important.”
With the trend of reducing carbohydrates for weight control, she added, some dieters are eating more protein, which can overload the kidneys.
Greathouse said she doesn’t see many cases of diets too low in protein, although certain populations, such as children, seniors and pregnant women need to make sure they are getting enough protein in their diets. Too little protein can be manifested by fatigue, short stature, slow healing, unhealthy-looking skin and hair, and inefficient repair of bone and muscle.
The kind of protein in the diet is also important, she said.
Beans, such as pinto and black, low-fat dairy products, tofu, peanut butter and nuts are all good protein sources. Eggs also are a good protein source, but she advises no more than four a week due to their higher cholesterol levels.
Greek yogurt also has more protein than traditional yogurt varieties, she said, and is great with breakfast or with fruit as a snack. The CDC offers a personalized daily food plan, including proteins, at www.choosemyplate.gov.
Healthy proteins include:
black beans, navy beans, soybeans, tofu, cottage cheese, skim milk, eggs, low-fat yogurt, white meat chicken with no skin, turkey white meat with no skin, salmon, tuna, peanut butter, almonds, peanuts, cashews, pecans, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and flax seeds.
Source: Stanley Bielawski, Silver Cross Hospital dietician