The best source of protein is a big juicy steak, right? Not exactly. All food has protein, but only certain foods have all 9 of the essential amino acids your body needs.
Protein comes from a greek derivative that means "of first importance" and that is appropriate considering how important protein is in our body. It has often been called the building blocks of life. Protein can be likened to the steel, brick and concrete construction workers use to build a big strong building.
It helps build muscle, repair tissue, and maintaining organs. It makes up muscles, ligaments, tendons, organs, glands, hair & nails. And also pays a big part in bone growth.
Protein molecules are made up of 22 amino acids, 9 of which are essential. Meaning they NEED to be provided in our diets, otherwise our bodies can not make any proteins. It's all or nothing.
9 Essential Amino Acids
Food that have all 9 essential amino acids are called "complete proteins" and the most popular or well-known sources of "complete proteins" are meat, poultry, fish, dairy and eggs. These sources often provide too much protein for the average person. Unless you have endured severe trauma to the body and have large wounds and scars, such as in the case of burn victims, this is just too much strain on the body.
Excess protein can cause uric acids build up, which can lead to symptoms and gout. And also causes unnecessary stress on the digestive system, especially if you are older.
Most vegetable proteins have the advantage of having little or no cholesterol or saturated fats. But in some cases don't have all 9 essential amino acids. This makes them something called an "incomplete protein".
You can take one or 2 incomplete proteins and combine them to cover each others missing amino acids. This way your meal is still considered a "complete protein."
Some examples of this include:
Rice & Beans
Hummus & Pita
Spinach and Almonds
Whole-Grain Noodles & Peanut Sauce
Whole-Grain Bread with Peanut or Almond Butter
There also quite a few meatless "complete proteins" sources that people are not aware off.
Meatless Complete Proteins
Quinoa, Buckwheat, Hemp and chia seeds, Spirulina, Ezekiel Bread, Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Chickpeas, Black Beans, Kidney Beans, Pumpkin Seeds, Cashews, Cauliflower, Pistachios, Turnip Greens, Black-Eyed Peas, the list goes on and on.
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