Hi there! I’m Christy Goldfeder, IIN Class of 2006, and head coach at Delicious Life Health Coaching. Join me on IIN’s virtual Health Food Store Tour, where I’ll give you weekly tips on how to shop healthfully. Come back each week as we stroll through the aisles to discover which foods are the healthiest.
If you’re eating animal protein, it’s really important to choose meats of high quality. What does that mean?
- Pasture raised – Did the chicken run around the barnyard? Did the cow or sheep graze in the field? When animals get to roam freely, they get more exercise, build a healthier fat and muscle profile, and eat what they’re meant to eat – i.e., insects, grass, and plants.
- Wild – If you’re eating fish, its pasture is the ocean, river or lake. Farm-raised fish get fish chow, usually a concoction of grains, proteins, and additives; they actually have fewer healthy omega-3 fatty acids because of their poor diet.
- Toxin-free – Large fish can contain high levels of mercury, PCBs, and other pollutants. Stick with smaller fish like sardines, anchovies, and smelt to avoid them. With chicken, beef, lamb, and pork, there are antibiotics and growth hormones, which you can avoid with naturally-raised animals.
Check out our post on meat labeling definitions to learn more about terms like "cage-free" and "grass fed," and scroll down to see some of our favorite animal proteins and recipes!
Eggs: A relatively inexpensive protein, eggs are high in choline, an essential nutrient that promotes neurological and cardiovascular health. Look for eggs that are organic; to qualify for this label, poultry producers must give hens organic/vegetarian/non-GMO feed and also offer them some outdoor access. Click here for a healthy recipe!
Wild Alaskan Salmon: If you want a power-packed punch of omega-3s and bioactive peptides, look no further than wild Alaskan salmon. Although we generally prefer smaller fish, wild salmon (along with other non-farmed fish) can be a terrific source of essential fatty acids and lean healthy protein. Check here to make sure you’re buying sustainable fish, and here for a healthy recipe!
Beef: Organic, grass-fed, lean cuts of beef are not only delicious; they can also be a great source of iron, zinc, and B-12. Beef’s positive effects are highly regarded in traditional Chinese medicine, which recommends the meat for restoring and maintaining energy levels as well as building healthy bodies. Click here for a healthy recipe!
Venison: Venison (also known as deer meat) is an amazing source of iron and B vitamins, and is generally much lower in saturated fat and calories than other sources of animal proteins - even chicken! With a rich, slightly gamy flavor, you can usually prepare venison just like beef, but keep in mind that venison’s low fat content means that it cooks up quickly.
Chicken: With loads of B vitamins and selenium, organic chicken is low in calories but high in versatility. (While breast meat is leaner, try thigh meat for even more flavor.) Often used as a healing food - think of grandma’s chicken soup when you’re sick! - chicken can be prepared in hundreds of different ways. Click here for a healthy recipe!
What're some of your favorite animal proteins? Feel free to post your recipes, and then take a look at other Health Food Store Tour posts here!