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Meat, Poultry, Fish, Eggs, Beans and Nuts

Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, pulses, beans and nuts are rich in protein.

They also provide other very important vitamins and minerals such as iron. Choose a variety of different foods from this group.

What is included?

  • Lean red meat including beef, mutton, lamb and pork
  • Poultry including chicken, turkey and duck
  • Fish including fresh, frozen and tinned varieties of white, oily and shellfish
  • Eggs
  • Pulses including beans of all kinds, such as peas, chickpeas and lentils
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Vegetable-based protein sources such as tofu and mycoprotein

How much should I eat?

Enjoy 2 servings a day. Eat a variety of choices. 

Red meat

Red meat is an important source of iron. Have a vitamin C food or drink (such as orange juice) in the same meal with the iron-rich food to increase the amount of iron you absorb. Eat 2 to 3 times a week.

  • Choose lean varieties; remove excess fat
  • One serving is 50–75g (half the size of the palm of your hand) cooked lean beef, lamb, pork or mince
  • Limit processed and cured red meat including ham, sausages, luncheon meats and salami. These are high in fat and salt
  • Avoid adding extra fat when cooking – bake, steam or grill instead


Poultry is a rich in protein and low in fat if the skin is removed. Eat 2 to 3 times per week. One serving is 50–75g of cooked poultry (half the size of the palm of your hand) of cooked poultry

  • Remove the skin as this contains most of the fat
  • Limit processed poultry such as chicken nuggets and goujons. These can be high in fat and salt
  • Cook with as little fat as possible, choosing to bake, grill or steam more often


Eat 1 to 2 times per week, including oily fish up to twice a week. One serving is 100g fish.

  • Oily fish provides omega-3 fats that help to keep your heart and brain healthy. Oily fish includes mackerel, salmon, trout, sardines and herring. Tuna does not count as an oily fish.
  • White fish and shellfish are low in fat and calories.
  • Choose fish without breadcrumbs, coatings or sauces more often.
  • Choose fish from sustainable sources


Eggs are a good source of protein, iron and vitamins.  It is okay to eat up to 7 eggs per week. There is some cholesterol found in eggs, however for healthy adults eating cholesterol found in eggs has little effect on your body's cholesterol levels.

One serving is 2 eggs.

Pulses, beans, nuts and other plant-based protein sources

Try to include more plant sources of protein. Pulses and beans are inexpensive, low in fat and a good source of fibre, vitamins and minerals.
One serving is:

  • ¾ cup cooked beans, peas or lentils 
  • 40g nuts or seeds
  • 100g cooked soya or tofu

Replace some of the meat in dishes such as stews and casseroles with pulses. 

  • Tinned pulses can be used straight away. Dried pulses need to be soaked and cooked before using.
  • Choose unsalted varieties of nuts
  • Nuts are high in calories, keep the serving size small





New healthy eating guidelines for children aged 1 to 4

These foods provide protein and iron for growth and development. Red meat such as beef, lamb and pork contain iron, offer them 3 times a week. Give meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans or nuts to your child at each of their 2 main meals every day. 

How much should kids eat?

  • 2 servings for 1-2 year olds
  • 3 to 4 servings for 3-4 year olds

What is a portion?

  • 30g cooked beef, lamb, chicken or turkey
  • 30g cooked fish>
  • 1 medium egg
  • ¼ cup (40g) baked beans, lentils, peas, chickpeas
  • 35g hummus
  • 35g cooked tofu
  •  2 falafels
  • 1 heaped teaspoon smooth peanut butter or nut better

Healthy Eating Tips

  • You should limit processed meat like ham or bacon to once a week and only give small amounts.
  • Offer your child smooth nut butter without added sugar and salt.
  • Chicken nuggets, sausages and burgers have less protein and are high in fat and salt and should not be a regular part of your child’s diet.

Check out the meat shelf fact sheet

Cereals, breads, potatoes, pasta and rice Vegetables, salad and fruit Milk, yogurt and cheese  |  Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans and nuts  | Fats, spreads and oils Food high in fat, sugar and salt

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