Learning for Life: Protein power

Protein seems to be a popular buzzword these days. Advertisements for powders, bars and shakes surround us. With all this press about protein, it seems as if we’re in dire straits and should rush out to “get our beef on.”

The amount of protein required by the body varies with age, sex, and activity level, but the average is 5 ½-6 ½ ounces per day. Most Americans eat enough protein without supplementing. Therefore, improving protein in our diets means focusing on variety and quality.

Selecting a variety of protein is key, as variety improves nutrient intake. Meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, beans, peas, nuts, seeds, and soy products are all considered important foods in the protein group. Quality refers to the leanness of our protein choices. Selecting lean or low fat meats has been proven to be beneficial for overall health, but especially so in reducing heart disease. Fortunately, in Alaska, we have the benefit of wild seafood, rich in omega-3 fatty acids and low in levels of mercury and other contaminants, as well as naturally lean wild game.

Choose unsalted nuts and seeds and limit processed meats to enjoy protein without extra sodium.

Stop by the Cooperative Extension Service office at 43961 Kalifornsky Beach Road, Suite A, in Soldotna for a handout or visit www.choosemyplate.gov for more information.

Submitted by Amorette Payment, UAF Cooperative Extension Service, Nutrition Educator, Kenai Peninsula District.

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