Several hundred to thousands of microscopic structures called amino acids come together to form a complex molecule called protein which carry out various vital functions in your body. In form of antibodies, proteins provide protection from dangerous pathogens like viruses and bacteria. As enzymes, they carry out numerous chemical reactions and create new molecules. They act as messengers to transmit signals and information to regulate diverse processes and work as transporters to move atoms and molecules through different parts of your body. They give structure, make muscle, and make you move.
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Average adult needs 0.8 to 1-gram protein per kilogram of body weight per day. Therefore, a person weighing 70kg will need 56 to 70 grams of protein per day. Egg gives 6 grams of protein, while a cup of chicken and milk gives you 38 and 8 grams of protein respectively. Nutrition labels carry wealth of information, read them to know how much protein per serving the food has.
To carry out various functions mentioned above, high quality proteins consisting of all the essential amino acids is crucial. There are several foods and food combinations that provide high quality and complete protein as mentioned below:
Eggs – high quality protein often used as benchmark to compare various proteins
Lean protein from poultry and fish
Cooked Soy products, Quinoa
Grains & beans/legumes
Grains & dairy
Grains & nuts
Proteins from animal products are complete while most plant proteins are incomplete. Hence if you are vegan or vegetarian, food pairing is important to make sure you get complete protein. Peanut butter on whole wheat toast, beans with rice, hummus with pita bread & refried beans with multigrain tortilla are some of the examples of food pairings with complete plant-based proteins.
Red meat provides complete protein but also delivers unhealthy fat, hence not an ideal source of protein. Too much consumption of red meat can also increase the risk of heart disease.
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