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Legumes, nuts, seeds, fish and other seafood, eggs, poultry, and/or red meat

Legumes (e.g. cooked dried beans, peas, lentils), nuts, seeds, fish and other seafood, eggs, poultry (e.g., chicken) and/or red meat with the fat removed.

As the name suggests, this food group includes a wide range of foods that 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’.

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 two servings each day. Depending on your age you may need more or less servings per day. Read more about what you need on the Healthy eating pages

Serving sizes

  • Small handful (30 g) of nuts or seeds
  • 1 medium fillet of cooked fish (100 g)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 chicken drumsticks or ½ chicken breast
  • 1 slice of cooked meat (65 g) (eg, roast lamb, chicken, beef or pork)
  • ½ cup of mince or casserole

Note: It is recommended that you eat less than 500 g of cooked red meat per week (equivalent to 700–750 g when raw)

Tips for eating from this food group

  • Legumes offer cheap and filling meal ideas – try canned varieties for convenience and speed. Browse Heart Foundation's Full O'Beans Cookbook for some inspiration.
  • Add legumes to salads (e.g., chickpeas), and soups, stews and casseroles.
  • 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.
Last modified: 
13/12/21