NDSU Extension - Sargent County


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Get a Punch of Protein…from Snacks!

Get a Punch of Protein…from Snacks!  6/8/18“Eat more protein” has become a popular media message, one that many people embrace.  Because protein is in many of the foods we typically eat, most of us can get the protein we need to build body muscle by eating a healthy, balanced diet.  It is not usually necessary to eat a high-protein diet or to use protein powders, supplements and shakes.

Protein is one of the six broad categories or classes of nutrients.  The other five are carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water. 

Protein is made up of amino acids which function as building blocks for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood.  Protein helps build and repair all body
                                                                                                       tissue, and form antibodies to fight infection.

Proteins are digested more slowly than carbohydrates.  Because of this, protein-rich foods act as longer-lasting fuel and help us feel full longer, so enjoying them as part of a breakfast may be especially helpful.  However, lean, protein-rich foods can certainly be a part of any meal or snack at any time of the day.

To benefit your health, a health-wise action is to choose higher-protein foods in place of high-sugar foods. For example, by choosing a glass of skim or low-fat milk instead of drinking a sweetened beverage, you will take in 8 extra grams of protein.

The USDA, in its Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2015), recommends eating a variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes, nuts, seeds and soy products. Just look at the variety! 

While meat, in general, is a good source of protein, it can be high in fat, depending on the source.  To make informed choices as a consumer, check and use the information available to you on Nutrition Facts labels, paying close attention to the amounts of saturated fat, trans fat and sodium content of packaged foods.

Peanuts and certain tree nuts (i.e. walnuts, almonds and pistachios) are snacks that pack a protein punch, and they may also reduce the risk of heart disease when consumed as part of a balanced diet. However, because nuts and seeds are high in calories, eat them in small portions and use them to replace other protein foods, rather than just eating them in addition to what you already eat.  Lastly, by choosing unsalted nuts and seeds, you will help reduce sodium intake.

Which of these actions would you like to try first, on your way to healthy snacking?

- Choose foods high in nutrients and low in fat and sugar. Think fruits and veggies!

- Eat snacks that include at least two food groups. (apple slices with cheese, or mini bagel with PB) 

- Bring your own healthy snacks so you can avoid things like chips and soda when options are limited

- Aim for foods made with WHOLE grains

- Choose a protein-rich hummus dip for veggies or crackers.

- Use hummus to replace the mayo or salad dressing on sandwiches

- Remember to consider water and milk as healthful beverage choices

Recipes for a variety of hummus dips, plus other recipes for snacks, appetizers and beverages, are available from NDSU Extension at https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/food/recipes/snacks-appetizers-beverages.

Photo Source: https://pixabay.com/en/almonds-nuts-food-healthy-snack-2291537/ (downloaded 6/12/18)


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