Healthy Habit Challenge: Swap one of your regular proteins (like chicken, beef, and pork) for either fish or a vegetarian protein on 1 meal this week.

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Your healthy habit challenge for Week 7 is to swap one of your regular proteins (like chicken, beef, and pork) for either fish or a vegetarian protein on 1 day this week. 

Remind me, why is it important to include protein with my meals?

Along with fat and carbohydrates, protein is a "macronutrient," meaning your body needs relatively large amounts of it compared to “micronutrients” like the vitamins and minerals found in foods. Unlike fat and carbohydrates, the body does not store protein for later use. You need to eat it regularly, as part of a balanced meal, for your body to work at its best.

Why vary the types of protein I eat?

The type of protein you eat may play a role in your overall health. Eating large quantities of fatty red meat, processed, and higher fat, such as hot dogs, sausages, and deli meats, have been linked to increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and colorectal cancer.

There are so many possibilities! You may try leaner poultry (skinless breasts), pork (loin) and beef (sirloin) if you tend to eat more higher fat meats. If you already eat lean options in these meats, consider adding fish.  Delicate, white fish are a lean choice that lends itself well to a variety of flavorings, or try a fattier fish like salmon or mackerel. Fatty fish provide omega 3 fatty acids which are great for:

  1. Reducing the risk of heart disease
  2. Promoting brain health
  3. Fighting inflammation
  4. Improving bone and joint health
  5. Maintaining healthy skin

To further broaden your protein sources consider non-meat options in addition to meat-based protein sources. The vegetarian lifestyle has been growing, and for good reason. Vegetarian diets are typically lower in fat, particularly saturated fat, and higher in dietary fiber. They are also likely to include more whole grains, legumes, nuts, and plant-based protein, and together, with the absence of red meat, this type of eating plan may provide many benefits for the prevention and treatment of chronic health problems, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Here are a few ways to incorporate vegetarian proteins this week:

  1. Eat low fat string cheese or low fat cottage cheese as snack
  2. Add boiled eggs to your salad
  3. Mix Greek yogurt into your soups and dips
  4. Add edamame to your stir frys and dishes