What are heart-healthy animal proteins?

Protein is an important element of a healthy diet. Protein helps repair body tissues and build muscles -- including your heart muscle. Unfortunately, many sources of protein are also high in saturated fat and cholesterol. How can you meet your protein needs and lower cardiac risk factors at the same time? The trick is getting your protein from the right sources.

The information here will help you choose animal proteins -- that are low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Many of these foods also provide additional nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids.

Heart-healthy animal proteins include:
  • Fish and shellfish: Fish and shellfish are good sources of protein that are typically lower in saturated fat than other animal proteins. In addition, several varieties of fish -- such as mackerel, herring, salmon, trout and sardines -- are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Poultry: Skinless, white-meat poultry (such as chicken and turkey) are all good sources of low-fat protein. Watch out for poultry such as duck and goose, which are higher in fat.
  • Eggs: Eggs have been controversial in the past due to their high cholesterol content, but recent studies show that eggs now contain less cholesterol (a large egg has about 185 milligrams of cholesterol). Eggs give you high-quality protein and essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamin D and folic acid, mostly in the yolk. Because egg yolks have good nutrition, cutting them from your diet is not recommended.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.