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What Are the Benefits of Proteins in a Balanced Diet?

By Blake Hagen

Protein is found in every cell in your body and is a necessary part of your diet, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Some sources of protein include meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk products, beans, nuts and grains. Two to three servings of protein each day will help you get the necessary amount of protein, which can help your body’s cells and tissues function properly, play a role in weight control and reduce your risk for some chronic diseases.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, reports that proteins are made up of amino acids, which are used to replace old proteins in cells and tissues that have been broken down and need to be replaced. Protein is an important part of nutrition and different animal and plant sources of protein provide different types of amino acids. The CDC reports that most Americans get more than enough protein in their diets and suggests that your focus should be on eating an overall, healthy diet that provides protein as well as other important nutrients. For example, choosing fish instead of red meat can provide you with protein along with heart-healthy fats instead of protein packaged with unhealthy saturated fats.

Weight Control

Eating a balanced diet that includes healthy sources of protein may be helpful in controlling your weight. To lose weight, you must consume fewer calories than your body needs, and the Harvard School of Public Health suggests that there are a few ways protein may help you do this. It reports that protein-rich foods move out of your stomach slower, which means you feel full longer. It also finds that protein requires more calories to digest than carbohydrates or fat and it also has a steady effect on blood sugar, which can help you stave off hunger for longer.

Disease Prevention

Some types of protein may help reduce your risk of chronic diseases. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, eating a diet high in vegetable sources of protein and fat can reduce your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University specifically lists legumes, which include beans, peanuts, lentils and soybeans, as a type of protein-containing food that can help your body control blood sugar levels and lower your cholesterol. Although research on proteins and chronic diseases is still on going, including good sources of proteins in your diet can help you stay healthy.

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