Protein is an important nutrient in the diet. About 20% of the human body is made up of protein. The primary function of protein is the growth and repair of tissues and cells. Protein helps to repair damaged cells and make new ones. It is vitally important during the growth of the body. Proteins are built from amino acids. Amino acids can be essential or non-essential. Non-essential amino acids can be made in the body, so they are not essential in the diet. Essential amino acids cannot be made in the body, so it is very important that we consume enough in our diet to maintain optimal health. Protein can be found in a range of foods. The quality and digestibility of protein is a major factor in choosing protein sources.
Biological Value of Protein:
When a protein contains the essential amino acids in a proportion similar to that required by humans, we say that it has high biological value. When one or more essential amino acids are scarce, the protein is said to have low biological value.
High biological value proteins are provided by animal sources of protein, such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, cheese and yogurt. This means that these sources provide all of the essential amino acids that the body needs.
Low biological value proteins are found in plants, legumes, grains, nuts, seeds and vegetables. Although plant proteins are recommended as part of a healthy diet, the poor digestibility can sometimes limit the availability of some plant proteins. This can be due to a tough plant cell wall in some plant food sources.
Animal protein can often be portrayed as unhealthy. However, there are lots of healthy sources of animal protein. Eggs, milk, cheese and yoghurt are great sources of protein. Fish, chicken and red meat are also high in protein. Animal protein sources contain lots of important nutrients. Red meat is important for its iron and zinc sources. Dairy products have good courses of calcium and vitamin D. They also contain high amounts of protein, making it easy to hit protein requirements. if excluding animal protein from the diet, it is important to replace these sources with other nutrient rich protein sources.
An increasing number of people are choosing to follow a plant-based diet. Plant based diets may offer several health advantages. They tend to result in a higher intake of complex carbohydrates, fibre, and fruit and veg. Plant-based diets are also higher in antioxidant, vitamins and minerals. Plant protein has a lower intake of saturated fat. Plant sources provide us with protein such as nuts, beans and vegetables like broccoli. It is important to remember that plant-based diets are not necessarily healthier. The food choices people make will determine a healthy diet.
Consuming a wide range of protein containing foods is advisable to ensure you reach your daily requirements. We know that you can get all of the protein you need from plant sources, if that is a choice you make. You need to realise you need a varied diet and varied meals to meet all these requirements. Animal protein will help you reach your requirements with ease. But you need to monitor the quality of your sources also.
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