Happy New Year! A new year can often bring hope for changes in our health, finances and relationships. I don’t know how many times in my life I’ve made New Year’s resolutions to exercise more and eat healthier foods. When I think about eating healthier foods, I think about eating high protein, nutrient-dense foods like beef and broccoli. Protein- rich foods like beef have always been an important part of our lives from when our children were very young, through their teenage years and now through our aging years.
Why focus on protein? It’s important to remember our bodies do not store protein, so we must eat protein to keep our bodies strong and healthy. When you think about protein, think about these five words: build, repair, oxygenate, digest and regulate.
Protein builds muscles, bones, cartilage and skin. Animal protein in particular provides all essential amino acids in the right ratio for you to utilize them best in your body. (Source: Mary Jane Brown, PhD, RD (UK); (Healthline.com)
Protein is used by your body to repair tissue.
Red blood cells contain a protein compound carrying oxygen throughout your body.
Nearly half the dietary protein we eat each day makes enzymes that help digest food.
Protein is essential in hormone regulation, especially during puberty when many teens are focused on weight loss and will skip protein-rich foods to eat fewer calories.
There are several ways we can include protein in our diets from animal and plant sources, including meat, eggs, fish, nuts, oats, soy milk, quinoa, green peas, beans, bananas and broccoli. A wide variety with appropriate serving sizes can satisfy the needs of the pickiest eater. Just remember when we overeat on protein it is stored as fat, so watch the serving size!
As we look ahead to a healthier, happier new year, let’s make sure we are keeping protein front and center of each meal for every member of the family.