Let’s talk about proteins. I’ve written several articles about different nutrients like fiber, antioxidants and omega 3-fatty acids. But protein is very important too, especially when we are trying to live a healthier lifestyle.
Like everything, variety is the spice of life! And getting your proteins from a variety of foods is key.
What Are Proteins?
Proteins are made of amino acids that are folded together. There are essential amino acids – those that our body cannot make. And non essential amino acids – those that our body can make.
Proteins that are made up of all the essential amino acids are said to be complete. Those that lack in one or more essential amino acid are incomplete.
Why Are Proteins Important?
Proteins are not just for bodybuilders who use them to gain muscle mass. Those who are sick use them to rebuild damaged tissue. And even in our every day lives, our body uses protein for many different tasks.
Like fiber, protein helps to fill you up and that is great for weight control. It also helps control blood glucose spikes which is very important to those with diabetes. The enzymes made by protein, help our brains function properly. And protein is good for our bones! It helps with the absorption of calcium.
Adults are encouraged to get 10% to 35% of their day’s calories from protein foods. That’s about 46 grams of protein for women, and 56 grams of protein for men.
Where Do We Get Proteins?
Complete proteins come from sources such as meat, eggs, cheese, dairy and soy. Incomplete proteins come mainly from vegetable sources with the one exception being soy.
The ideal source should be complete proteins. For most people that isn’t a problem. If you are worried about fat intake, try lean cuts of beef, chicken and turkey. For vegetarians whose main source comes from incomplete proteins, getting a variety of vegetables and whole grains throughout the day will ensure that all essential amino acids are consumed. Also, using soy protein (which is the only complete vegetable source of protein) is very beneficial.
While it is still controversial which one is better, studies show one definite advantage of vegetable protein over meat protein is that plant protein can help lower blood pressure. Those who consume a lot of vegetable protein tend to have lower blood pressure.
How Do We Get Proteins Into Our Diet?
Since studies suggest plant protein has some benefits that meat protein lacks, it is recommended we add some vegetable protein in our diet for better health. Good sources of vegetable protein include whole grains such as corn, wheat, oats and barley. Soy products are good to. The include tofu and soy milk. But don’t forget nuts and seeds like peas, beans, peanuts, almonds and pine nuts.
A well balanced diet including certain amounts of plant protein is definitely better than a diet that gets dietary protein from meat only.
Did this article give you a better understanding of what proteins are and how important they are? How do you make sure you eat plenty of protein? I would love to hear from you! Just leave your comments in the section below 🙂
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Enjoy and Be Healthy!