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Nutrition Tips

What foods are in the Protein Foods Group?

posted Oct 18, 2016, 8:23 AM by Linda Hopey


All foods made from meat, poultry, seafood, beans and peas, eggs, processed soy products, nuts, and seeds are considered part of the Protein Foods Group. Beans and peas are also part of the Vegetable Group. For more information on beans and peas, see Beans and Peas Are Unique Foods.


Select a variety of protein foods to improve nutrient intake and health benefits, including at least 8 ounces of cooked seafood per week. Young children need less, depending on their age and calorie needs. The advice to consume seafood does not apply to vegetarians. Vegetarian options in the Protein Foods Group include beans and peas, processed soy products, and nuts and seeds. Meat and poultry choices should be lean or low-fat.


How much food from the Protein Foods Group is needed daily?

The amount of food from the Protein Foods Group you need to eat depends on age, sex, and level of physical activity. Most Americans eat enough food from this group, but need to make leaner and more varied selections of these foods. Recommended daily amounts are shown in the table below.

Note: Click on the top row to expand the table. If you are on a mobile device, you may need to turn your phone to see the full table.





2-3 years old
4-8 years old

2 ounce equivalents
4 ounce equivalents


9-13 years old
14-18 years old

5 ounce equivalents
5 ounce equivalents


9-13 years old
14-18 years old

5 ounce equivalents
6 ½ ounce equivalents


19-30 years old
31-50 years old
51+ years old

5 ½ ounce equivalents
5 ounce equivalents
5 ounce equivalents


19-30 years old

31-50 years old

51+ years old

6 ½ ounce equivalents
6 ounce equivalents
5 ½ ounce equivalents


*These amounts are appropriate for individuals who get less than 30 minutes per day of moderate physical activity, beyond normal daily activities. Those who are more physically active may be able to consume more while staying within calorie needs.


What counts as an ounce-equivalent in the Protein Foods Group?

In general, 1 ounce of meat, poultry or fish, ¼ cup cooked beans, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, or ½ ounce of nuts or seeds can be considered as 1 ounce-equivalent from the Protein Foods Group.


This table below lists specific amounts that count as 1 ounce-equivalent in the Protein Foods Group towards your daily recommended intake.

Note: Click on the top row to expand the table. If you are on a mobile device, you may need to turn your phone to see the full table.








1 ounce cooked lean beef

1 ounce cooked lean pork or ham

1 small steak (eye of round, filet) = 3 ½ to 4 ounce-equivalents

1 small lean hamburger = 2 to 3 ounce-equivalents


1 ounce cooked chicken or turkey, without skin

1 sandwich slice of turkey (4 ½" x 2 ½" x 1/8")

1 small chicken breast half = 3 ounce-equivalents

½ Cornish game hen = 4 ounce-equivalents


1 ounce cooked fish or shell fish

1 can of tuna, drained = 3 to 4 ounce-equivalents
1 salmon steak = 4 to 6 ounce-equivalents
1 small trout = 3 ounce-equivalents


1 egg

3 egg whites = 2 ounce-equivalents
3 egg yolks = 1 ounce-equivalent

Nuts and seeds

½ ounce of nuts (12 almonds, 24 pistachios, 7 walnut halves)
½ ounce of seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, or squash seeds, hulled, roasted)
1 Tablespoon of peanut butter or almond butter

1 ounce of nuts of seeds = 2 ounce-equivalents

Beans and peas

¼ cup of cooked beans (such as black, kidney, pinto, or white beans)

¼ cup of cooked peas (such as chickpeas, cowpeas, lentils, or split peas)
¼ cup of baked beans, refried beans

¼ cup (about 2 ounces) of tofu
1 ox. tempeh, cooked
¼ cup roasted soybeans 1 falafel patty (2 ¼", 4 oz)
2 Tablespoons hummus

1 cup split pea soup = 2 ounce-equivalents
1 cup lentil soup = 2 ounce-equivalents
1 cup bean soup = 2 ounce-equivalents

1 soy or bean burger patty = 2 ounce-equivalents

Selection Tips

  • Choose lean or low-fat meat and poultry. If higher fat choices are made, such as regular ground beef (75-80% lean) or chicken with skin, the fat counts against your limit for calories from saturated fats.
  • If solid fat is added in cooking, such as frying chicken in shortening or frying eggs in butter or stick margarine, this also counts against your limit for calories from saturated fats.
  • Select some seafood that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, trout, sardines, anchovies, herring, Pacific oysters, and Atlantic and Pacific mackerel.
  • Processed meats such as ham, sausage, frankfurters, and luncheon or deli meats have added sodium. Check the Nutrition Facts label to help limit sodium intake. Fresh chicken, turkey, and pork that have been enhanced with a salt-containing solution also have added sodium. Check the product label for statements such as “self-basting” or “contains up to __% of __”, which mean that a sodium-containing solution has been added to the product.
  • Choose unsalted nuts and seeds to keep sodium intake low.


Some types of physical activity are especially beneficial

posted May 23, 2016, 5:16 AM by Linda Hopey   [ updated May 23, 2016, 5:17 AM ]

  • Aerobic activities make you breathe harder and make your heart beat faster. Aerobic activities can be moderate or vigorous in their intensity. Vigorous activities take more effort than moderate ones. For moderate activities, you can talk while you do them, but you can't sing. For vigorous activities, you can only say a few words without stopping to catch your breath.
  • Muscle-strengthening activities make your muscles stronger. These include activities like push-ups and lifting weights. It is important to work all the different parts of the body - your legs, hips, back, chest, stomach, shoulders, and arms.
  • Bone-strengthening activities make your bones stronger. Bone strengthening activities, like jumping, are especially important for children and adolescents. These activities produce a force on the bones that promotes bone growth and strength.
  • Balance and stretching activities enhance physical stability and flexibility, which reduces risk of injuries. Examples are gentle stretching, dancing, yoga, martial arts, and t'ai chi.
  • - See more at: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/physical-activity-why#sthash.43rskb0U.dpuf

    When you are not physically active, you are more likely to

    posted May 23, 2016, 5:15 AM by Linda Hopey   [ updated May 23, 2016, 5:17 AM ]

    • Get heart disease
    • Get type 2 diabetes
    • Have high blood pressure
    • Have high blood cholesterol
    • Have a stroke
    Physical activity and nutrition work together for better health. Being active increases the amount of calories burned. As people age their metabolism slows, so maintaining energy balance requires moving more and eating less.
    - See more at: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/physical-activity-why#sthash.43rskb0U.dpuf

    Being physically active can help you

    posted May 23, 2016, 5:14 AM by Linda Hopey

  • Increase your chances of living longer
  • Feel better about yourself
  • Decrease your chances of becoming depressed
  • Sleep well at night
  • Move around more easily
  • Have stronger muscles and bones
  • Stay at or get to a healthy weight
  • Be with friends or meet new people
  • Enjoy yourself and have fun
  • - See more at: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/physical-activity-why#sthash.43rskb0U.dpuf

    Physical Activity

    posted Mar 31, 2016, 6:20 AM by Linda Hopey

    Physical activity simply means movement of the body that uses energy. Walking, gardening, briskly pushing a baby stroller, climbing the stairs, playing soccer, or dancing the night away are all good examples of being active. For health benefits, physical activity should be moderate or vigorous intensity.

    Moderate physical activities include:
    businessman on bike

    • Walking briskly (about 3½ miles per hour)
    • Bicycling (less than 10 miles per hour)
    • General gardening (raking, trimming shrubs)
    • Dancing
    • Golf (walking and carrying clubs)
    • Water aerobics
    • Canoeing
    • Tennis (doubles)
    Vigorous physical activities include: 
    • Running/jogging (5 miles per hour)
    • Walking very fast (4½ miles per hour)
    • Bicycling (more than 10 miles per hour)
    • Heavy yard work, such as chopping wood
    • Swimming (freestyle laps)
    • Aerobics
    • Basketball (competitive)
    • Tennis (singles)
    You can choose moderate or vigorous intensity activities, or a mix of both each week. Activities can be considered vigorous, moderate, or light in intensity. This depends on the extent to which they make you breathe harder and your heart beat faster.
    Only moderate and vigorous intensity activities count toward meeting your physical activity needs. With vigorous activities, you get similar health benefits in half the time it takes you with moderate ones. You can replace some or all of your moderate activity with vigorous activity. Although you are moving, light intensity activities do not increase your heart rate, so you should not count these towards meeting the physical activity recommendations. These activities include walking at a casual pace, such as while grocery shopping, and doing light household chores.
    - See more at: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/physical-activity-what-is#sthash.wGfDaXsv.dpuf

    Drink Water

    posted Feb 3, 2015, 5:40 AM by Linda Hopey   [ updated Nov 6, 2015, 8:53 AM ]

    Drink water instead of sugary drinks when  you’re thirsty. Regular soda, energy or sports drinks, and other sweet drinks usually contain a lot of added sugar, which provides more calories than needed. To maintain a healthy weight, sip water or other drinks with few or no calories. - See more at: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/ten-tips-make-better-beverage-choices#sthash.DuhIYCH6.dpuf

    Need an afternoon snack?

    posted Oct 23, 2014, 10:16 AM by Linda Hopey

    Keep an apple or pear handy, it will satisfy you with its crunch and you'll get extra fiber to keep you going!

    A fresh take on fruit

    posted Oct 14, 2014, 10:01 AM by Linda Hopey   [ updated May 8, 2015, 10:20 AM ]

    Fruit can be enjoyed in many ways. Try using fresh, frozen, canned, or dried fruit in a variety of ways and at all meal occasions. 

    Looking for a new way to eat Brussels sprouts?

    posted Oct 2, 2014, 5:38 AM by Linda Hopey

    They can be boiled, sautéed, or oven roasted to go along with any meal. 

    Nutrition fact

    posted Sep 12, 2014, 6:19 AM by Linda Hopey

    Did you know that the stickers on produce in the grocery store actually have a meaning? 
    These codes are also known as a Price Look-Up code or PLU. Supermarkets have been 
    using this coding system since 1990 to determine how to price bulk produce. The codes have designated numbers on them that identify the way the produce is grown. Understanding these stickers can be beneficial for consumers when shopping, because it helps them to know exactly what they are purchasing. The four- or five-digit numerical 
    code identifies the product and also indicates whether the produce is grown conventionally 
    or organically. If the code has four digits, then the produce is conventionally grown, but if it is a five-digit number, the produce has been grown organically or without pesticides and other harmful chemicals to help it grow. The first number of the code indicates if the genetic material of the produce has been altered to sustain growth and increase size. A four-digit code beginning with an eight means that the fruit or vegetable has been genetically modified, but if it begins with a nine, then the produce is grown organically 
    and nothing has been added or changed. The PLU codes can help you determine exactly 
    what type of produce you are purchasing. Check them out the next time you are at the grocery store.

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