Meat, poultry, fish, eggs and more

Lean meats and poultry, along with fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, and legumes and beans, make up an essential part of our daily diet, protein. A person needs to eat these protein-rich foods every day, but why? Your body uses the protein you eat to make lots of specialised chemicals such as haemoglobin and adrenalin that have important jobs in the body. Protein also builds, maintains, and repairs the tissues in your body. Muscles and organs (such as your heart) are made of protein.

How many serves of protein foods do children need to eat every day?

Children up to 8 years old: 1½ serves

Older children and adolescents: 2½ serves

Older children and adolescents need more protein foods as they are growing quickly and need extra protein to build muscle.

What is one serve?

65g lean cooked red meat (90-100g raw weight)

80g lean cooked poultry (100g raw weight)

100g cooked fish fillet ( 115g raw weight)

2 large eggs (120g)

1 cup (150g) cooked or canned legumes

170g tofu

30g nuts, seeds or nut pastes

Tips on eating protein:

  • Vary the types of protein foods you eat each day as they each contain important but different nutrients.
  • Choose lean meat and poultry to cut down on saturated fat, which is not good for your heart.
  • Food such as sausages, ham, salami and devon do contain protein however they are high in saturated fat and salt so should be avoided.
  • Go meat-free at least once or twice a week and base meals on legumes, eggs, nuts or tofu.
  • Eat fish twice per week to get essential omega-3 fatty acids.