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For most people getting enough protein should not be a problem as there are many healthy options. These include eggs, meats, fish and...

Making Wise Protein Choices

For most people getting enough protein should not be a problem as there are many healthy options. These include eggs, meats, fish and dairy foods. For those who won’t eat these foods, getting enough
protein can be a challenge. Soybeans and certain combinations of legumes and grains can supply all essential amino acids, but you risk not getting adequate protein, and generally must eat more carbohydrate than needed. For most people obtaining sufficient protein is relatively easy, especially when choosing animal sources.
Choosing the best animal proteins means finding the best sources. This may be organic, grass-fed, free-range, kosher and whatever other labels are used to differentiate the highest quality eggs,
meats, fish and dairy foods from those obtained from poorly treated animals. In some cases, visiting a smaller local farm, for example, will help you decide. Some of today’s local farmers are not only healthconscious but actually care about their animals and how their operations
impact the environment.
The human body, especially the intestine, is well adapted for digesting animal-source foods, having evolved on a high-meat/fish, low-carbohydrate diet with varying amounts of vegetables, fruits and
nuts. While the popular trend in recent decades has been toward the misconception that meat consumption is unhealthy, there are a variety of unique features of an animal-food diet that are vital for health and fitness. Here are some of them:
• Animal foods contain high levels of all essential amino
• Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient found only in animal
• EPA, the most powerful fatty acid, and the one preferred
by the human body, is almost exclusively found in animal
• Iron deficiency is a common worldwide problem and is
prevented by eating animal foods, which contain this
mineral in its most bioavailable form.
• Vitamin A is found only in animal products (conversion
of beta carotene in plant foods to vitamin A is not always
efficient in humans).
• Animal products are dense protein foods with little or no
carbohydrate to interfere with digestion and absorption.
• People who consume less animal protein have greater
rates of bone loss than those who eat larger amounts of
animal protein.
I will highlight the main animal protein sources below, and will comment about soy products and protein powders.

The Incredible, Edible Egg
Eggs are not just incredible, but what I would call the perfect food all wrapped up in one single cell. Yes, that’s right, an egg is an individual cell, and contains the most complete and highest protein rating of any food, including all amino acids. Two eggs contain more than 12
grams of protein, just over half in the white and the rest in the yolk. in addition, eggs also contain many essential nutrients, including significant amounts of vitamins A, D, E, B1, B2, B6, folic acid and especially vitamin B12. Eggs also contain important minerals including
calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc and iron. Choline and biotin, also important for energy production and stress management, are contained in large amounts in eggs. Most of these nutrients are found in the yolk of the egg.
The fat in egg yolks is also nearly a perfect balance, containing mostly monounsaturated fats, and about 36 percent saturated fat. And, egg yolks contain linoleic and linolenic acids — both essential
fatty acids. Eggs have almost no carbohydrate (less than 1 gram),  Some Facts about Eggs
The taming of chickens and other fowl for egg production dates back to before 1500 B.C. in China. Today, eggs come in many sizes and shell colors, not just white and brown. Depending on the type of
chicken that laid them, some eggs have tints of green, blue and red.
Eggs, of course, should always be stored in the refrigerator. Because of their porous shell, there is slight evaporation of moisture from the inner egg through the shell, which changes its flavor and freshness.
If you are not using them quickly, store your eggs in a sealed container to prevent loss of moisture. Never store eggs next to highly flavored foods, such as onions and fish, because they will easily absorb odors from these foods. Always store eggs with the large side up, which suspends the yolk effectively within the egg white.
Chefs know that room-temperature eggs are easier to work with; when boiled, they don’t crack, the whites are easier to whip, and the yolks “stand up” more when fried. If you’re separating eggs, however,
the colder ones are easier to work with. Speaking of boiled eggs, they should never really be boiled but kept just at a slight simmer until done. Furiously boiling them results in rubbery whites and less-tasty yolks. One way to prevent the shells from breaking during boiling is to use a pin. Prick the shell on the large end of the egg with a pin. This allows the air pocket, found in
the large end of the egg, to escape during cooking. Otherwise, if the air can’t escape, the pressure builds and it may crack the shell. The best way to cook soft- or hard-boiled eggs is to place them in cold water (1/2-inch above the eggs) and bring to a boil. Take off the heat immediately. For soft-cooked eggs, remove after 2-4 minutes, depending on your taste, and run under cold water. For hard-cooked eggs, cover and let sit for 15 minutes, then rinse in cold water and
keep refrigerated until ready to use. (An egg that is less than two days old is very difficult to peel when hard-boiled.)
Finally, before you buy eggs make sure they are relatively fresh by looking at the date. Or, you can shake them close to your ear; if you hear a sloshing sound, it means they’ve lost a lot of moisture over time and there’s a big air space in them — avoid these. Eggs also contain a natural barrier — an invisible protective coating that keeps out bacteria. Never wash eggs before storing because you will
remove this natural protection.
making them the perfect meal or snack for the millions who are carbohydrate intolerant. Ounce per ounce, eggs are also your best food buy with hardly any waste. And, with so many ways of preparing them, eggs are delicious. While most people love the taste of eggs, many are still concerned about eating them because of cholesterol.
For most people, eggs can be part of a healthy food plan. I eat several whole eggs every day. In the chapter on heart disease I’ll address the issue of cholesterol, and how adding more eggs to your diet can actually decrease your cardiovascular risk.
Eggs are only as healthy as the hens that lay them, since the nutritional make-up of eggs, especially the fat, depends upon what the chickens eat. For this reason you should avoid run-of-the-mill grocery-store eggs that have been produced in chicken factories. Unfortunately this includes most eggs on the market. The healthiest eggs come from organic, free-range hens. Even better; buy eggs from a local farmer who lets chickens eat healthy, wild food and organic feed. Free-range means that the hens are allowed to roam where they can eat bugs and vegetable matter, yielding eggs with a better fat profile, with more monounsaturated fat and more essential fatty acids.
So-called “omega 3” eggs come from chickens fed flaxseeds. Often these hens are not free-range nor certified organic and are still housed in very crowded hen factories.
Here’s the Beef It’s no bull — if you want to be healthy, beef really is “what’s for dinner.”
Consider that just 3 ounces of lean porterhouse contains 20 grams of protein, and just 6 grams of saturated fat, balanced by a healthy 7 grams of heart-friendly monounsaturated fat. In addition to
being an excellent source of high-quality protein, beef is also rich in B vitamins, glutamine, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc and other vital nutrients. Organic and natural beef have not been treated with antibiotics or given growth-stimulating hormones.
You can buy naturally raised meats in some grocery and healthfood stores, and local sources may be even better. Look for nearby farms and ranches that sell meat from animals that have been raised
on grass, not fed corn and without the use of growth hormones, antibiotics and other chemicals used by most stock-growers. Whether you live near a farm that sells natural or organic meat, or order from
a ranch that can ship to you, you may wish to save money and buy a large quantity of beef so that you always have some on hand. The meat will keep well in a freezer until it’s time to make another order.
When cooking beef, keep it on the rare side. Studies show that beef cooked medium, medium well, or well done is associated with higher rates of stomach cancer. This is due to the production of carcinogens (certain nitrogen compounds) created during cooking. Heatsensitive
nutrients, such as the amino acid glutamine, are also significantly reduced in meat cooked beyond rare. The less cooked the better. Bacteria in beef is usually due to the food-handling process. While
bacteria can reside on the surface of meat, it won’t get inside unless the meat is ground. Almost all cases of food poisoning involving meat are from sources that have been ground ahead of time. For this reason, ground meat should be thoroughly cooked unless it’s freshly ground just before eating it.

The Poultry Flap
I rate eggs and beef as the best sources of protein but give poultry a poor rating due to how most of these animals are raised and processed. If you find an excellent source of chicken and turkey, and
you really enjoy eating it, these are great protein foods. The poultry industry has done such a good job telling you on paper how healthy chicken is over other meats, but this is untrue. In
fact, because of lower standards, chickens are generally raised in more unhealthy environments than cattle and other animals. Today’s chicken house is really an overpopulated filthy city, containing
100,000 birds or more, cooped up in tiny boxes or very crowded conditions. Because of this, most chickens are given many chemicals and drugs to counter common diseases and infections. The best birds for the table are organically raised — they’ve not been treated with or fed any chemicals or drugs; instead, they are given certified-organic feeds and filtered water. This may be the safest of all poultry. Many grocery stores and health-food stores carry organic chickens and turkeys. In addition, you may be able to find birds such as these from a local farm.

The Catch to Fish
Fish can also be a great source of protein and some contain significant quantities of essential fatty acids, especially omega-3 fats. However, just as with other protein foods, some fish are healthier choices over others. The best sources are wild fish, not farm-raised.
In general, avoid seafood that includes the so-called bottom feeders, those fish and other sea species that eat from the ocean’s floor, where the potential for consuming toxic material is highest. This is especially true for those species that feed close to shore. Flounder, sole, catfish and crab are some examples of foods to avoid eating regularly. Oysters, clams, mussels and scallops are also sources of potential pollutants. Clams are perhaps the worst seafood to eat, especially
when raw, since they normally filter out and concentrate viruses and bacteria, heavy metals and other chemical pollutants from the waters in which they live. If you enjoy eating seafood, here are some tips fordoing so more safely and more nutritiously:
• Choose fish caught in waters farther away from polluted,
industrial areas. Some examples are Canadian salmon,
sardines and herring.
• Look for cold-water fish like salmon, dark tuna, sardines
and other small fish that contain higher amounts of
omega-3 fat and EPA.
• Eat smaller fish and crustaceans: trout, bass and shrimp
and avoid marlin, white tuna and swordfish. Smaller and
younger fish have not accumulated the toxins found in
larger fish and older species.
• Limit your intake of shellfish, and choose smaller species
such as smaller shrimp.
• Avoid precooked fish, and prepared or processed
seafood such as breaded fish or seafood, fish cakes,
ground fish and imitation crabmeat.
• If you catch your own fish, ask local authorities about the
limits of safety. Some regions recommend limiting how
much of certain species you should eat in a year.

Unfortunately, the oceans, rivers and lakes are becoming so contaminated that wild fish are containing levels of toxins that are dangerous. I recommend limiting fish to once or twice a
month or less, and even less than that for children and pregnant women.
The picture is worse for farm-raised seafood — this should always be avoided. These foods often include antibiotics, pesticides, steroids, hormones and artificial pigments. Unfortunately, they are
becoming popular due to availability and cost. For example, farmraised salmon makes up 95 percent of the salmon on the market today. Since these fish are raised in confined, crowded and unsanitary
conditions, the threat of disease and parasites is great. To combat disease and parasites, some fish farmers add antibiotics to salmon feed, and treat the salmon and their pens with pesticides. Some fish are also treated with steroids to make the fish sterile, and growth hormones to
speed them to market size and reduce production costs. In addition, since farm-raised salmon do not naturally eat crustaceans that naturally make the flesh pink or orange, salmon growers often feed color additives to pigment the flesh.

Other Meaty Matters
In addition to beef, poultry and fish, other meats are also good sources of protein. Pork and lamb are popular meats, and recently meats such as buffalo and elk have appeared in some groceries. When
choosing these meats use the same guidelines as with beef and poultry — buy those that are organic or raised naturally at a local farm.
Wild game, including big-game animals such as deer as well as small game such as rabbits and game birds, is also another great source of protein. Wild-game meat is generally leaner but higher in
essential fatty acids than domestic meats. While hunting your own meat is nearly ideal, there is a growing concern in some areas like the northeastern United States that the use of pesticides and other environmental chemicals has affected wild animals. But in general, wild
game is much safer than store-bought meat. Generally avoid ground meat of any kind unless it has been freshly ground right before deep freezing or eating it. Ground meat is a haven for bacteria and can ferment in your intestine much worse than whole meat. If you like ground meat or have a recipe that requires it,
it’s best to buy a large piece of meat and then grind it up just before cooking — most butchers, even those in large groceries, will do this for you. Also beware of other meats that have already been cut, such as sliced meat, chopped meat and stew meat. Try to buy as large a
piece of meat as possible and cut it yourself. Processed meats can also be unhealthy choices. Most sausage, lunch meats and other processed meats are not only ground, but also
may contain high amounts of sugar and chemicals that you don’t want to eat. However, it is possible to find organic bacon and hams
that have been cured with honey and with no harmful chemicals. The most nutritious parts of the animal to eat are the organs and glands. In our society, the liver is the most common organ food, with stomach, brains, kidneys and others only rarely eaten. However, when a lion kills his prey, it’s the organs and glands that are first devoured. The muscle, what we refer to as the “meat,” is often left for the scavengers. Unfortunately, with our polluted environment, organ meats such as liver are becoming more dangerous since it’s the liver’s job to filter the blood and remove toxins from the body. If you enjoy liver and other organ and gland meats, be sure to find a very good source.

Say Cheese!
Cheese and plain yogurt are dairy products that contain quality protein without many of the problems associated with milk. This is especially true if you can find organic products made from raw milk. Also consider that goat and sheep milk are much more compatible for
humans than cow milk. These cheeses can be found in many stores and on the Internet.
Whichever type of milk they’re made from, cultured products such as cheese and yogurt are good sources of complete protein with the lactose, or “milk sugar” reduced by friendly bacteria in the culturing process. To be sure that an item is fully cultured, check the “Nutrition Facts” on the label; the carbohydrate should be very low. (Of course you want to avoid the fruit-flavored and sweetened varieties of yogurt that are always full of sugar — sometimes a half-dozen
teaspoons or more!) It’s important to remember that dairy is also high in B fat. So you
must be careful to eat cheese in a way that maintains balance with your intake of A and C fats. If you are recovering from an inflammatory- related illness, such as cancer, heart disease and the others discussed in this book, limit or avoid dairy products. In addition, avoid so-called “American” cheese, cheese spreads and other processed cheeses. These highly processed products, which outsell natural
cheese, are usually several types of unripe cheeses, ground up with
added chemical stabilizers, preservatives and emulsifiers.

Curds and Whey

Remember Little Miss Muffet, eating her curds and whey? These are the two proteins found in milk. Whey protein is the thin liquid part of milk remaining after the casein (the curds) and fat are removed. Whey is the part of the milk containing most of the vitamins and minerals,

including calcium, and it’s a complete protein. During the making of cheese, which mostly is produced from curds, whey is often fed back to the animals for nutritional reasons.  The whey component of milk contains a group of natural sulfurcontaining substances called biothiols that help produce a key antioxidant in your cells (called glutathione). Because it helps the immune system, whey has been used to help prevent and treat many chronic conditions, from asthma and allergies to cancer and heart disease. It can also help improve muscle function. Most people who are allergic
to cow’s milk can usually consume whey without problems. Small amounts of lactose are found in whey (much less than is found in liquid milk) but this is usually too little to cause intestinal problems, even in most people sensitive to lactose. In those who are truly lactose- intolerant (probably less than 5 percent of the population), this amount of lactose could be a problem.
Most cheeses are made from curds, but some are made from whey. Italian ricotta is the most common one; check the ingredient label on ricotta to make sure the main ingredient is whey. Whey is
also made into powders for use in baked goods and smoothies as discussed below.
The curds from milk are used for most cheese making. Cottage cheese is the best example of what curds look like. However, the curd is the protein in milk most people are allergic to when there’s a dairy allergy. Newborns and young children are especially vulnerable to curds because their intestines and immune systems are too immature to tolerate this protein.

The Soy Story

While soy is a vegetarian source of a complete protein, it’s often a problem for most people. One reason is that most soy in use today is highly processed and concentrated. Whole green soybeans or

edamame are an example of a whole food, and a good source of protein. With a relatively small amount of simple processing soy can be made into tofu, also a good food. This is how most soy has been consumed for many years, and studies of these populations seem to show
that soy has health benefits when consumed as a food. But most soy today highly processed and concentrated. For example, many soy powders used in food products and supplements are so concentrated that a serving or two would be like eating a pound or more of real soybeans — something most people would never even consider. For this reason, it’s best to avoid all processed soy products, including soy-protein isolates and caseinates and hydrolyzed soy. The
more soy is processed, the worse it can be. Monosodium glutamate (MSG), a one-time commonly used powder that makes food seemingly taste better (still used in Chinese and other restaurants) is made by processing soy. So products containing isolated or hydrolyzed soy
also include some MSG (but it is not required to be listed in the ingredients). Many people, especially children, may be intolerant and even allergic to soy in all forms. In addition concentrated soy isoflavones, used in dietary supplements can pose serious dangers, including hormonal
imbalance, which can increase the risk of cancer, particularly for post-menopausal women, the very audience these products are marketed to by the big companies.

Protein Powders

Soy, milk, whey, egg and other foods are commonly sold to supplement the diet. These have value when used cautiously. Certainly avoid any of these powders if you’re intolerant to those foods. In addition, avoid all powders that have been isolated, caseinated or  hydrolyzed. These products are touted as being highest in protein — which is true, but at the expense of being highly processed and containing MSG. Those marked “concentrated” are the least processed of

the powders and are an acceptable part of a healthy diet. Egg white powder is the least processed of all the powders. This and whey concentrate are the best and healthiest of all these products. (If you use egg white powder in a blender, you must include a small amount of fat otherwise it will create a large volume of foam — great for meringue but not for smoothies and other recipes.) Most importantly, when choosing protein sources look for real food. Fresh whole eggs, whole pieces of meat and fish, raw-milk cheese as tolerated. Avoid the processed protein products — cold cuts, frozen foods, processed cheese, etc. If you need to increase protein intake with a food supplement, use egg white powder or a whey concentrate. These foods also contain a variety of important vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Another key food group — which complements these protein foods rather well — are vegetables, the topic of the next chapter.

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