Here is Part 3…
Meat and Beans
Although this category is called “meat and beans” on the pyramind, it actually includes meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts. For most people, getting enough protein isn’t usually a problem — the goal is getting lean protein without saturated fat and extra calories. For instance, an 8-ounce T-bone steak weighs in at 600 calories. On the food pyramid, the key proteins listed in the meat and beans group are measured in ounce equivalents. Most people need just 5 to 6.5 ounce equivalents a day — 2 ounces of sliced chicken in a salad or on a sandwich for lunch and a 4-ounce fish filet at dinner will do it. Children under 8 years of age need even less, between 2 and 4 ounces a day. Keep in mind that the protein in dairy helps contribute to your protein needs.
The food pyramid designers appreciate that not everyone eats meat. The Pyramid does recognize vegans and vegetarians. It uses meat equivalents.
On the pyramid beans fill two roles: as protein sources and as vegetables. They are measured as ounce equivalents. One-quarter cup of any type of cooked beans or dry peas is a 1-ounce equivalent. That means if you eat a main dish of a cup of lentils or of black beans, for instance, you’ve had 4-ounce equivalents, or almost a full day’s requirement. Note that soy is included as well: 2 ounces or a quarter-cup of tofu is also considered one-ounce equivalent. Tempeh, soybeans, and hummus count too.
Fish is also in the meat and beans group in the food pyramid. While you should avoid fish with high mercury levels such as swordfish and light tuna, make other fish with heart-healthy fats staples of your diet. It comes back to that message of variety — don’t just eat red meat as your source of protein. And too much chicken, she says, can get boring. Every ounce of fish counts one for one toward your daily ounce-equivalent protein needs — a 3-ounce can of tuna is 3-ounce equivalents, a 6-ounce salmon steak is 6-ounce equivalents, and so on.
Nuts and seeds belong to the meat and beans group, too. One-ounce equivalents include 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, 2 tablespoons of hummus, and a half-ounce of nuts or seeds. Remember that nuts are calorie-dense — a half-ounce is just seven walnut halves or a dozen almonds. Because they contain fat, nuts also can count toward the fats and oil category. They are a great source of vitamin E, and are a heart-healthy type of fat — oils from nuts and other plant sources do not contain cholesterol.
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