Is meat the best food for protein and iron?

The best foods to eat for protein are not simply those that are highest in protein...

Although meat has a high percentage of calories as protein, its actual usability in the body – which depends on the balance of amino acids it contains – is not as good as that of soya or quinoa. Quinoa (pronounced ‘keen-wa’) is a grain like food from South America, available in healthfood shops (and these days most grocery stores)

A food’s other nutritional constituents also have to be taken into account. Most meat is actually as much as 50% fat, mainly saturated, whereas a vegetarian source of protein like tofu provides, percentage-wise, a lot less fat, mainly polyunsaturated, and more than enough protein. As for iron, other foods such as spinach, beans, lentils, and pumpkin seeds are richer in this important mineral than meat, but the iron in meat is more absorbable. So overall, for iron atleast, meat is probably best.

I would prefer not to eat meat at all, but I don’t really like beans & pulses. Would I get enough protein from fish, eggs, nuts & dairy products?

Yes, as long as you make sure you eat protein regularly and try to vary the sources. For instance, don’t forget the protein rich vegetables such as broccoli, peas, spinach & potatoes, plus grains such as quinoa, which has as much protein as meat. Tofu is wonderfully versatile, and you can obviously ring the changes as much as you like if you include fish (sardines are an excellent source, as is cod), eggs, nuts (cashew nuts, peanuts & almonds are good) and dairy products such as yoghurt and cottage and hard cheeses.

Article from 500 Health & Nutrition Questions Answered – by Patrick Holford.

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