Proteins play a crucial role in the growth and maintenance of our bodies. Whether you prefer a hearty chickpea salad or a grilled chicken dish, incorporating various protein-rich foods can help you stay strong and energized throughout the day. Learn why protein is important and how to include it within a healthy diet. 

What is Protein? 

Protein is a macronutrient. We need macronutrients (sometimes called ‘macros’) as they provide us with energy. Other macronutrients include fats and carbohydrates

There are thousands of different proteins in the body that have a huge variety of roles, from supporting our immune function to keeping our muscles and bones healthy throughout life.


What are the different types of protein?

There are many foods which provide protein including beans, pulses, eggs, fish and meat.

For a healthy balance of protein consider eating lean cuts of meat and mince, and eat less red and processed meat like bacon, ham and sausages.

You don’t have to eat meat to to get your daily protein intake, pulses, such as beans, peas and lentils are good alternatives which are also low in fat and a good source of fibre and protein.

It is a good idea to get protein from a variety of foods and the government recommends we eat more pulses that are naturally low in fat and high in fibre.

Protein in a Vegetarian Diet

For vegetarians who eat dairy products and eggs, a healthy diet is the same as for anyone else, but without meat or fish.

The Eatwell Guide shows the different types of food we should eat to have a healthy, balanced diet, and in what proportions.

You don't need to achieve this balance with every meal, but try to get the balance right over a day, or even a week. Choose options low in fatsalt and sugar whenever you can.

Eat beans, pulses, eggs and other sources of protein

Pulses include beans, peas and lentils. They're a low-fat source of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals, and count as a portion of vegetables. Nuts and seeds are also a source of protein and other nutrients.

Pulses are particularly important for people who don't get protein by eating meat, fish or dairy products.

Other non-dairy sources of protein include eggs and meat alternatives, such as tofu, mycoprotein (such as Quorn), textured vegetable protein and tempeh.

You need to eat a variety of different sources of protein to get the right mixture of amino acids, which are used to build and repair the body's cells.