Lean meat and alternatives

This food group includes a wide range of foods which give us many important nutrients, such as protein, iron, zinc, B vitamins and fats (which contains fat soluble vitamins and omega fatty acids). Together, they are often referred to as the ‘protein group’.

Which foods are in this group?

This group includes a large number of foods - lean meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, tofu and other soy products, and legumes - cooked dried beans, peas and lentils.

How much do we need to eat?

As these foods provide such a wide range of nutrients, including foods from this group every day is an essential part of a healthy eating pattern. Choosing a variety over a week will provide all the nutrients they offer. An adult should aim for one or more servings each day - for other age groups, please see our Healthy eating for all ages page.

Typical serving sizes

2 slices cooked meat (approximately 100g)                  3/4 cup cooked beans - chickpeas,kidney beans or lentils (135g)
3/4 cup cooked mince or casserole 3/4 cup tofu
1 medium steak (120g) 1 egg (50g)
1 medium fillet of fish cooked (100g) 2 drumsticks or 1 chicken leg (110g)

 Tips for eating from this food group:

  • Choose lean cuts of meat and poultry, trimming the visible fat off meat, and removing skin from poultry.
  • Choose low-fat cooking options, such as grilling, roasting or microwaving rather than frying.
  • The iron in meat, poultry and fish is more easily absorbed by your body than from plant products (cooked dried beans, peas and lentils). Eat foods rich in vitamin C at the same time to increase absorption – see our iron page for more details
  • Legumes offer cheap and filling meal ideas – try canned varieties for convenience and speed.
  • Add legumes to salads (eg. chickpeas), and soups, stews and casseroles.

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Page Reviewed March 2013