When you have diabetes, carbohydrates tend to get a lot of attention. It’s easy to forget about making good choices when it comes to protein and fat – the other two macronutrients that make up the foods that we eat. Last month, we talked a lot about fats and how they can affect your heart health.
This month, we’re taking a closer look at protein. Read on to see why it’s important to make good protein choices. We’ve also provided a complete guide to choosing protein wisely. Our guide includes a list of the best choices to look for next time you’re at the store, along with some new, creative ways that you can incorporate them into your meal plan.
Most Americans don’t think a meal is complete unless there is a generous portion of red meat or chicken on their plate. We always seem to be worried about getting enough protein, and many of us don’t believe that it is possible to feel full or satisfied without our usual helping.
It’s time for us to rethink the approach we take when it comes to protein in our diet. In reality, many of us are reaching (or exceeding) our daily recommendation. Research has also shown that even those who follow a vegetarian diet can easily fulfill their protein requirement by eating a variety of plant-based proteins.
The major problem when it comes to protein is where we get it from. The typical American diet is high in fatty and processed meats and cheese. These foods may provide protein, but they are also major sources of saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, and calories. What’s more is that we don’t always prepare these foods in the healthiest way, often adding unnecessary fat and salt during cooking. Have too much, and you’ll see an increase in your blood pressure, cholesterol, and your weight.
We’re not asking you to give up red meat and chicken. There is actually a whole range of lean protein sources (including certain cuts of meat) that are lower in calories, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium. We suggest choosing these lean protein sources most of the time, which can help reduce your risk for heart disease, weight gain, and other diabetes complications. See our Complete Guide to Choosing Protein on the following page to learn about the many options you have!
by Nancy S. Hughes
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