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Beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins

These foods are rich in protein and 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?

Eat some foods from this group each day. Eat beans and pulses more often. Choose fish twice a week – one of which is oily. Eat less red and processed meat.

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.

  • Have no more than 70g of red or processed meat per day. Processed meat includes ham, sausages, luncheon meat and salami
  • Choose lean varieties and remove excess fat
  • Avoid adding extra fat when cooking; bake, steam or grill instead


  • Remove the skin from poultry, 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: choose to bake, grill or steam more often


Include fish at least twice each week, one of these being an oily fish. One serving is 140g 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 seven 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.

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.

•    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, so keep the serving size small

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