Protein and Heart Health: How Much Do You Need?

How much protein is good for the heart? This is one question we all ignore while consuming proteins. Most of us when plan to cut some pounds off our body we focus on eating less of fats and carbohydrates and at the same time increase our intake of proteins. In fact proteins secure most part of our plates even when we are not following any diet plans.

So have you ever thought of how much protein is actually required by your body? There are many of us who are consuming more than what is required by the body. You can thank some modern diet plans and also the cultural factors influencing us to eat more than our actual body requirements.

When we talk about proteins, meat is one of the major sources from where we get most of the proteins in our diet. In many cultures eating meat is considered to be a symbol of wealth and prosperity. Even today when its prices have fallen, it is still associated with affluence or wealth. A nutritionist and dietitian at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in the Bronx, New York, Dr. Judith Wyatt-Rosett states that, People think they won’t feel full if they don’t eat meat. Dr. Wyatt is also a volunteer on the Nutrition Committee at American Heart Association.

Protein and Heart Health How Much Do You Need

Meat is one of the major sources from where we get most of the proteins in our diet

Why too much Protein is Harmful?
We all love meat, we think it is all good, providing our bodies with plenty of energy packed in it in the form of nutrient like protein. What we fail to understand is that along with protein, meat is also a high source of saturated fats. These saturates fats can prove to be bad for your health. They can raise your levels of LDL or bad cholesterol and as a result you will end up having heart disease. Dr. Wyatt says, “If people would just eat the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables, we’d be full on low-calorie foods.” She adds that people consume more proteins at the expense of healthy food options from other food groups.

How much protein is actually needed by the body?

There is a complex calculation of daily recommended amount of proteins required by your body, known as RDA or recommended daily allowance, to calculate that you will have to take into account your weight and age. The Centers for Disease Control Prevention recommends that 10 to 35% of your daily calorie intake should come from protein. On average an adult male should consume 56 grams and an adult female should consume 46 grams of protein.

There are some people who require more protein than the above mentioned quantity such as young children, athletes, lactating or pregnant women.

Pregnant women require 10 grams more protein than the amount they consumed before. Lactating women require 20 grams more than their usual consumption in order to support milk production.

A dietitian Josephine Conolly-Schoonen, suggests that athletes (marathoners) require 50% more protein than an inactive person.

Even dieters need more protein but here it is important to make sensible choices while selecting the sources of protein.

Vegetarians and vegans should also meet the recommended daily value of protein by adding options like beans, lentils, dried peas, nuts and whole grains to their diet.

You can also follow the DRI or Dietary Reference Intake system for consuming proteins. It allows you to eat 0.37 grams protein per pound of body your weight, in a day. For example:

  • 45 grams of protein for a 125 pound person
  • 55 grams of protein for a 150 pound person
  • 64 grams of protein for a 175 pound person
  • 73 grams of protein for a 200 pound person
  • 91 grams of protein for a 250 pound person

What are the healthy options?
Do you know that by drinking 8 ounces of milk (a glass) you get 8 grams of proteins? For another 11 grams add 1 cup of yogurt. Now you can add 21 grams to your protein count by consuming 3 ounce piece of meat that is equal to the size of a deck of cards. Another cup of dry beans with 16 grams of protein will help you complete your protein requirement of 56 grams, if you are an adult male.

The USDA recommends dedicating quarter portion of your plate to proteins.

Always choose low-fat foods with high levels of proteins such as skim milk and lean meat. You can even substitute lean meat with legumes, a cup of legumes gives you about 16 grams of proteins. When making a plate, you can even combine meat and vegetables, in this way you will be getting proteins from different food groups. Also make sure your portion size doesn’t exceed 2 to 3 ounces.

Try to take raw vegetables containing proteins rather than cheese. Cheese gives you proteins but at the same time it gives you fats as well.

You can also seek advice from your doctor regarding your daily requirement of proteins.