MyPlate's protein food group should fill roughly 1/4 of the plate at each meal and include foods made from made from meat, poultry, eggs, seafood, beans and peas, soy, nuts, and seeds.
How much protein you need in a day depends on your age, activity levels, and sex. Use the MyPlate's chart to figure out how much protein you should consume.
The serving size of various protein foods varies widely. Here's a general rundown of what counts as an ounce equivalent...
- 1 ounce of meat, poultry or fish
- 1/2 ounce of nuts or seeds
- 1/4 cup of cooked beans
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon of peanut butter
The variety of foods in this group is part of its charm. MyPlate advises people to "Select a variety of protein foods to improve nutrient intake and health benefits, including at least 8 ounces of cooked seafood per week" noting that "The advice to consume seafood does not apply to vegetarians."
Many of the foods in the protein group have varied saturated fat content too though, and since saturated fat has been linked to everything from heart disease to obesity, it should be consumed in moderation. That's why MyPlate asserts that "Meat and poultry choices should be lean or low-fat."
Another element that should be consumed in moderation and which is also present in many foods in the protein food group is sodium. MyPlate explains "Processed meats such as ham, sausage, frankfurters, and luncheon or deli meats have added sodium." Keep your consumption of these items low (and choose ones with less sodium when you can) for your health. Do the same with nuts and seeds, choosing unsalted varieties whenever possible.
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Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.