Proteins: Food Sources & Recommended Intakes Video

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  • 0:02 Proteins
  • 1:04 Food Sources with Protein
  • 2:44 Recommended Protein Intake
  • 4:27 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Do you know which foods provide the best source for protein? Learn about both animal-based and plant-based foods that contain protein in this lesson. It will also show you how much protein you should consume each day to stay healthy and avoid disease.


Which one of these three foods: the egg, the apple or the loaf of bread is the best source of protein? If you guessed the egg, then you're correct. We know that the egg has the most protein because an egg is an animal-based food. All animals, whether they live in the sea or on land, contain protein in their muscles and tissues. So, when they are consumed in your diet, the proteins in these foods are transferred to you.

The loaf of bread is a plant-based food. The grains within the bread contain some protein, but the protein is of a lower quality than that of the egg. The apple is also a plant-based food. It contains a bit of protein, but it's found in such small amounts that an apple, like most pieces of fruit, would not be considered an ideal source of protein. In this lesson, we'll take a look at which foods you can select to get your daily recommended intake of protein.

Food Sources with Protein

So, we see that protein can be found in both animal and plant-based foods. Animal products include meat, poultry, eggs, seafood and milk or items made from milk, like cheese and yogurt. Plant foods that contain protein include beans, nuts, seeds, grains and soy products. Most people living in the United States are able to take in adequate amounts of protein on a daily basis thanks to the wide variety of protein-containing foods available.

However, some of these protein foods, especially those that come from animal sources, are high in saturated fats. High consumption of these fatty foods has been linked to cardiovascular disease. Therefore, it's recommended that an individual chooses protein sources that are naturally lower in fat or that contain healthier fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. In other words, eat out at the seafood restaurant more often than the steakhouse, where fatty meats are likely to be served. And, if you feel like a snack, choose nuts and seeds for the protein and healthy fats they contain.

If you're not fond of animal-based foods or prefer to eat a vegetarian diet, then beans and peas are good foods to help you meet your protein needs. It's easy to serve black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, lima beans, split peas or lentils as a side dish or work them into a soup or salad. These plant-based sources of protein also provide your body with fiber, which is not found in animal-based foods.

Recommended Protein Intake

Now you have an idea of which food sources contain protein, but you might be wondering how much protein you need? The United States government has established guidelines to help you plan a healthy diet and avoid disease. The acceptable macronutrient distribution range (AMDR) shares the recommended calorie ranges for carbohydrates, fats and proteins that you need. If you are a healthy adult, the AMDR for protein is 10-35% of your daily calorie intake. So, if you ate a diet of 2,000 calories a day, then you would want between 200 and 700 calories to come from protein.

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