Protein powders can be seen everywhere – from the shelves of health food shops to posts on Instagram. But, powders aren’t the only way to consume this vital nutrient and this month, I’d like to look at some natural sources. First of all, though, let’s cover the basics and answer the key question – what exactly is protein? Well in simple terms, it is a macronutrient made up of amino acids. Amino acids are like lego blocks and are essentially the building blocks for life. For this reason, protein is vital for building strong hair, good skin and nails and lean muscle.
Eating good sources of protein also fills you up for longer, so a snack made up of this nutrient will keep the temptation to snack on sugary foods at bay until you get to your lunch or dinner. Here are my top five good quality proteins that will be your saviour this summer!
Any and all fish is good, except you should go easy on tuna as it contains high levels of mercury. The same goes for other big fish that we tend to consume less of like swordfish, shark and tilefish. My personal favourites are salmon, prawns, scallops, cod and sea bass.
These are thought to be the new avocado! They are a natural source of high-quality protein and contain a number of other nutrients like vitamin D, vitamin B12, phosphorus and riboflavin. And at just 70 calories, there are six grams of high-quality protein and all nine essential amino acids in each one. While some people worry about whether eggs are a cause of high cholesterol, studies have shown that dietary cholesterol from eggs has minimal effect on your blood levels if you’re healthy.
Turkey and chicken are great sources of animal protein, but try to buy from a good source. I prefer organic sources and I’ve explained why on the right.
Red meat such as beef, lamb and pork has a role to play in a healthy, balanced diet as it is a natural source of protein, iron, zinc and B vitamins. I would advise buying grass-fed options where possible for the reasons listed to the right.
People always ask me what these are and essentially they are grown agriculturally primarily for their grain seeds called pulses. So think of pulses and legumes as being peas, beans, lentils, soybeans, alfalfa. These are a fantastic source of protein for vegetarians.
Why buy organic meats?
Eating organic can definitely be expensive. But if you are willing to spend a little extra money every week on an organic item, I highly recommend that that item should be meat. Non-organic animals are sometimes given animal by-products, growth hormones and antibiotics – each of which can cause problems if consumed regularly. Animals that are raised organically, on the other hand, are not fed animal by-products and are not given growth hormones or antibiotics.
Instead they are fed natural ingredients like grass. On top of this, organic agriculture is more gentle on the environment than conventional agricultural practices – meaning you’re helping to support sustainable farming practices.