Healthy Eating Week - Wednesday = vary your protein

Protein has a wide range of functions in the body such as keeping bones and muscles healthy, and producing hormones and cells which are important for our immune system.

We get protein from meat, fish, beans and pulses, nuts, eggs, tofu and meat alternatives. 

The recommendations are that we eat less red meat and processed meat as these are higher in saturated fat and salt which have an impact on our health. We want to eat a wide range of protein based foods to get a variety of essential nutrients and choosing plant based sources more often is beneficial for our health and the planet.

You don’t need to give up meat completely, how about doing some simple swaps to reduce how much meat you eat. The British Nutrition Foundation has the following top tips:

Go half and half (or all the way if you want to try a meat free meal): 

• Try swapping half (or all) chicken for chickpeas, lamb for lentils, and beef for beans! 

• Half the meat in dishes like Bolognese, curries, stews, or stir-fries and replace with a plant source of protein like beans, pulses, tofu, soya mince or mycoprotein-based meat alternative (e.g., Quorn).


Why not try to include different plant sources of protein throughout the day as part of meals and snacks? For example, good choices of plant protein foods could include: 

• Small handful (20g) of plain unsalted nuts and seeds as a snack or sprinkled on breakfast cereal 

• 200g (half a standard 400g can) lower sugar/salt baked beans on wholemeal toast for lunch 

• 2 tablespoons reduced fat houmous with oatcakes as a snack 

• 120g lentils in a curry for your evening meal


Be creative with beans, peas and lentils: 

• Add pulses like beans, chickpeas, and lentils to your dishes – try canned varieties with no added salt as an affordable and convenient protein source. 

• Make a salad based around different pulses like mixed beans or green lentils. 

• Try a bean-based dip to have as a snack with oatcakes or rye crackers. 

• Mix up your snacks using chickpeas – try falafel, roasted chickpeas, or reduced fat houmous.

What will you do to vary your protein?

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