The Powerful Protein Food Group

The Powerful Protein Food Group

The protein food group is more than just powerful – it is essential! Proteins provide nutrients that are crucial for your body to have in order for you to remain healthy.

Including different types of protein sources in your diet means that you will get a well-rounded intake of the nutrients your body needs.

A Wide Variety

There is an assortment of protein sources to choose from, with sources being from animals and from plants. The protein food group includes the following range:

The options give a nice variety to those interested in a diet that omits meat sources, but the plant-based sources of protein are not limited to vegetarians or vegans.

Most Americans do not meet the recommendations for alternative protein sources. In fact, those of us who do eat meat should try to incorporate the plant-based varieties of protein in our diets because they help increase the amount of important nutrients your body needs, like unsaturated fats, dietary fiber, and vitamin D. It also helps limit the amount of sodium and saturated fats from you get from processed meat and poultry.

Daily Recommended Intake

Toddlers12 to 23 months2 oz-equiv
Children2-4 years
5-8 years
2 to 5 oz-equiv
3 to 5.5 oz-equiv
Girls9-13 years
14-18 years
4 to 6 oz-equiv
5 to 6.5 oz-equiv
Boys9-13 years
14-18 years
5 to 6.5 oz-equiv
5.5 to 7 oz-equiv
Women19-30 years
31+ years
5 to 6.5 oz-equiv
5 to 6 oz-equiv
Men19-30 years
31-59 years
60+ years
6.5 to 7 oz-equiv
6 to 7 oz-equiv
5.5 to 6.5 oz-equiv
Note that these are general recommendations. To determine what is optimal for you specifically, create your personalized MyPlate Plan.

1 Ounce of Protein Equivalencies

Meats1-ounce cooked lean beef, goat, ham, lamb, or pork
1-ounce cooked lean ground beef or pork1 slice of luncheon or deli meats (beef, chicken, ham, pork, turkey)
1-ounce cooked game meats (bear, bison, deer, elk, moose, opossum, rabbit, venison)
1-ounce cooked organ meats
Poultry1-ounce cooked (without skin) chicken, ostrich, or turkey
2 ounces cooked Cornish hen, duck, goose, pheasant, or quail1 sandwich slice of turkey or chicken breast (4½” x 2½” x ⅛”)
Seafood1-ounce cooked finfish (black sea bass, catfish, cod, flounder, freshwater trout, haddock, hake, halibut, herring, light tuna, mackerel, mullet, perch, pollock, salmon, sea bass, snapper, sole, tilapia, whiting)
1-ounce cooked shellfish (clams, crab, crayfish, lobster, mussels, octopus, oysters, scallops, shrimp, squid (calamari)
1-ounce canned fish (anchovies, freshwater trout, herring, light tuna, salmon, sardines)
Eggs1 egg
1 ½ egg whites (or 3 tablespoons liquid egg white product)  
Nuts and seeds½ ounce of nuts (12 almonds, 24 pistachios, 7 walnut halves)
½ ounce of seeds (chia, flax, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, or squash seeds) hulled, roasted
1 tablespoon of almond, cashew, peanut, or sunflower butter, or sesame paste (tahini)
Beans, peas, and lentils¼ cup of cooked beans, peas or lentils (such as bayo, black, brown, fava, garbanzo, kidney, lima, mung, navy, pigeon, pink, pinto, or soy, or white beans, or black-eyed peas (cow peas) or split peas, and red, brown, and green lentils)
¼ cup of baked beans or refried beans
¼ cup (about 2 ounces) of tofu1 oz. tempeh, cooked
¼ cup soybeans, cooked1 falafel patty (2 ¼”, 4 oz)
6 tablespoons hummus
This chart lists specific amounts that count as 1 ounce-equivalent (oz-equiv) in the Protein Foods Group towards your daily recommended intake.

Looking Ahead

If you like this topic, stay tuned in to our blog! Later this month we will be covering the most economical cuts of meat to purchase, as well as diving deeper into alternative protein sources.

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