“It’s important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all healthier diet or meat per se,” said Janese Laster, a physician nutrition specialist in the District. Also crucial? “There are differences in farming practices, so throughout the United States, each person is getting different risks and benefits from the meats.” Keeping that in mind, here are some conclusions that can be made about different categories of animal protein, starting with the good.
A cut above: Fish and poultry
Poultry and fish are considered the best animal proteins you can load your diet with, Laster said. Fish is hailed for its omega-3 fatty acids, which can protect against cardiovascular disease. Fish is also rich in vitamin D, selenium and protein. “A healthy diet would entail a great diversity of fish consumption, rather than the same fish every day, along with fish that is wild caught rather than farmed,” Laster said. Because there’s some risk of ingesting “mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls, microplastic due to our polluted water supply,” try to avoid species such as swordfish or king mackerel and opt for cod or salmon instead.
Poultry, such as chicken and turkey, is also great protein source, low in calories and saturated fat. Keri Gans, registered dietitian and author of “The Small Change Diet, ” used to recommend light meat over dark, but the fat difference is actually quite minimal. “Eat what you enjoy” is her new advice. “That said, breast meat is typically leaner than thigh, and you should always look at how it’s prepared.” Chicken wings loaded in sauce are not the best option. Gans recommends baking and grilling, and a skinless, boneless cut of poultry to keep each serving the healthiest.