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Protein foods

Protein foods

Eating a variety of lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds, legumes and beans provides many nutrients, including protein, iron, zinc and other important minerals and vitamins, particularly those of the vitamin B group.

This group of foods includes:

Meat and poultry

Choose lean meat and poultry. Read more about meat and poultry

Fish and seafood

Eat fish and seafood 2–3 times a week as part of a heart-healthy diet. Read more about fish and seafood 


Worried about whether you should be eating eggs? They’re really nutritious and it’s fine to have them regularly as part of a healthy diet. Read more about eggs

Nuts and seeds

For a hit of the healthier fats, add some nuts and seeds into your diet every day. Read more about nuts and seeds


Legumes (beans, peas and lentils)  are great sources of fibre and are low in fat. Try to include them twice a week as part of a varied diet. Read more about legumes

How much to eat

Aim for 1–3 serves of either lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts or seeds, or legumes each day. 

The recommended number of serves depends on your age and gender. For more information on what’s right for you, visit the Australian Dietary Guidelines website  or talk to an Accredited Practising Dietitian.

Protein food (aim for 1-3 serves a day) 1 serve
red meats like beef, lamb, veal, pork, goat, kangaroo 65 g cooked (90–100 g raw)
poultry like chicken or turkey 80 g cooked (100g raw)
fish 100 g cooked (115 g raw) 
1 small can
eggs (up to 6 per week) 2 large (120 g)
cooked or canned legumes/beans like lentils, chickpeas or split peas (choose no added salt) 1 cup
(150 g)
tofu 170 g
nuts, seeds, peanut or almond butter or tahini or other nut or seed paste (choose no added salt) (1 small handful, 1tbs)

Tips for including protein foods

  • Choose lean meat and skinless poultry trimmed of visible fat, and include fish or seafood 2–3 times a week. 
  • Avoid processed meats like sausages and deli meats like salami. If you do wish to choose these, look for the Heart Foundation Tick, as it identifies healthier products when comparing similar products.
  • Eggs make great lunchbox fillers for adults and children and are very portable when hard boiled. 
  • Add legumes to soups, casseroles, salads and meat sauces to extend the meal and add extra texture and flavour. This means you can use less meat, which makes the dish lower in fat and cheaper.
  • Include a handful (30 g) of nuts every day. Include as a snack or add to your favourite stir fry or breakfast cereal. 

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