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
- 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 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.
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