One of the most important parts of a healthy diet is to get in those two daily servings of meat or protein without overdoing it with the saturated fats, calories, and cholesterol. Most people already know that a lean chicken breast is far better for you than a cheeseburger or a grizzle-thick steak, but what you may not know is how many different sources of fat-free diet-friendly protein are out there. Considering just how important protein is to a healthy diet, it never hurts to experiment with different nutritious, protein rich foods to find what can taste great and still be low in saturated fats.
Saturated fats are the non-essential fatty-acids that give much of our meats the taste and texture that we enjoy. Unfortunately, saturated fats are also essentially carbon chains of nothing but calories and cholesterol. While they may taste good, saturated fats have over twice the calories of either equal amounts of protein or carbohydrates. At the very most, no more than 45% of your daily calorie intake should be made up of fats. In the average American diet, however, a significantly greater percentage of calorie intake is fat (i.e. burgers & fries, fried chicken, chips, etc.). When so much of one’s diet is composed of either saturated or trans fats, instances of not only obesity, but also cancer, diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke increase as well. It’s for this reason that people who are actively choosing to have a healthy, balanced diet should also know how to get nutritious sources of protein with the lowest amounts of saturated fats.
Best Sources of Diet-Friendly Protein
Chicken Although chicken is a fantastic means of getting your daily requirement of protein while still staying very low in calories and saturated fats, there are still some foods that would rank higher in the diet-friendly protein list. Still, lean chicken far outdoes any beef or pork loin in the protein-to-calorie ratio. Lean chicken breast offers 18 grams of protein per 100 calories at about 2 ounces. Essentially, a single “deck of cards” serving of chicken breast has around 36 grams of protein with only 200 calories to show for it. All in all, chicken is an absolutely great way of to get your daily requirement of protein in with a minimum of saturated fats
Egg Whites Egg whites are a funny sort of food that people hear about but wouldn’t expect to see in a list of great sources of protein. After shedding the calorie and saturated fat heavy yoke, a single large egg offers 3.5 grams of protein at around 17 calories. At that ratio, egg whites offer 20 grams of protein per 100 calories with six large eggs. If it wasn’t for the fact that the egg white still had small amounts of saturated fats, egg whites would almost be the best choice for diet-friendly protein. Still, at that protein to calorie ratio, egg whites rank higher than chicken breast. An egg white omelet with veggies and a little skim milk cheese could be all you need to get your daily requirement of protein while still tasting great.
Tofu Tofu, an Eastern soy bean product, is a fantastic plant based source of protein. At around 11 grams of protein per serving (3.5 ounces) or 12 grams of protein per 100 calories with 4 ounces, firm tofu may not be the best source of protein when compared to meat based proteins, but it wins extra points by being saturated fat-free. By being a soy bean-based product, tofu is free of saturated fats and has most of its calories found in unsaturated fats, the essential fatty-acids necessary for many bodily functions and overall health. Simply by being free of saturated fats, dieters can enjoy tofu without worrying about empty calories and the cholesterol problems associated with beef, chicken and pork.
Fish Salmon, Tuna, and Haddock and other low calorie fish are the best sources of protein. Not only because they have the best protein to calorie ratios, but also because they have no saturated fats, only small amounts of unsaturated fats, and are great sources of other essential fatty-acids such as omega-3. Salmon and tuna offers 20 grams of protein per 100 calories with 3 ounces (or half a serving) of fish. Haddock, at the best source of diet-friendly protein, offers a whopping 21 grams of protein per 100 calories or 27 grams per serving. A “deck of cards” serving of haddock at dinner will almost cover your entire protein needs for the day while still staying within the 100 calorie range. Impressive, huh.