What Makes Good Sources of Protein Good

Finding good sources of protein is simple once you understand what makes a source of protein good or bad for you. Follow these simple guidelines and you'll make smarter choices in your sources of protein.

Low in Saturated Fat
Sure, spare ribs are full of protein, which is good for you, but they're also full of saturated fat, which is terrible for your heart and your waistline. Choose lean proteins that are low in saturated fat such as skinless chicken breasts, lean pork tenderloin, shrimp, broiled fish or low-fat cheese.

Amino Acid Composition/Complete or Incomplete Protein
All proteins consist of amino acids. Your body needs nine specific amino acids to be provided in your diet, and the proteins you consume must have those nine amino acids in them for your body to properly use that protein.

Meat, poultry, fish, dairy and soy are constructed from all 9 needed amino acids, so these protein sources are considered good or complete protein sources. Some other foods-like grains, beans and legumes-contain some but not all of the nine amino acids needed to make up a complete protein. If you eat the following foods together, they will also provide all nine essential amino acids:


  • Beans and whole grain bread or tortillas
  • Peanut butter and whole grain bread
  • Legumes and corn
  • Beans and rice

Easy to Digest and Use
Some proteins are easier for your body to use than other proteins. For example, eggs are 97 percent digest-able, meaning your body can process 97 grams of every 100 grams of egg protein ingested. On the contrary, oatmeal has a rate of 86 percent of its protein conversion, and soybeans only have a 76 percent protein-digestion rate. You'll get a higher percentage of actual protein from meats, fish, eggs and dairy products than you will from grains, soybeans and rice products.

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