Manzano Day School

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Nurses' Notes: The Protein Food Group

The USDA considers all foods made from meat, poultry, seafood, beans and peas, eggs, processed soy products, nuts, and seeds part of the Protein Foods Group. As we discussed in the previous Vegetable Food Group articles Beans and peas are also part of the Vegetable Group. Because Beans and Peas are an excellent source of plant protein, and provide other nutrients such as iron and zinc, beans and peas are considered part of the Protein Groups. Beans and Peas are also considered part of the Vegetable Group because they are excellent sources of dietary fiber and nutrients such as folate and potassium.

The USDA recommends selecting a variety of protein foods to improve nutrient intake and health benefits, including at least 8 ounces of cooked seafood per week. Vegetarian options in the Protein Foods Group include beans and peas, processed soy products, and nuts and seeds. Meat and poultry choices should be lean or low-fat.

Some commonly eaten choices in the Protein Foods Group are:

  • Meats: beef, ham, lamb, pork, and veal
  • Game Meats: bison, rabbit, and venison
  • Poultry: chicken, duck, and turkey
  • Eggs: chicken or duck eggs
  • Beans and Peas: black beans, black-eyed peas, kidney beans, lentils, and pinto beans
  • Processed soy products: tofu, white beans, bean burgers
  • Nuts and Seeds: almonds, cashews, mixed nuts, pumpkin seeds and peanuts
  • Seafood: catfish, cod, halibut, salmon, sea bass, and swordfish
  • Shellfish: clams, crab, lobster, mussels, scallops, and shrimp
  • Canned fish: anchovies, clams, tuna, and sardines

The USDA encouraged choosing lean or low – fat meats and poultry, seafood that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, and eating processed meats that are low in added sodium. Next week we will discuss why protein is important and how many ounces of protein are recommend.

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