Monday, July 25, 2011

Best Protein Sources for Health

Protein is very essential part of a healthy diet which is made up of amino acids (essential and non-essential). Body needs protein to perform various biochemical processes. Protein is the richest molecule in the body besides water. It is generally identified as the "building block" of muscle. Protein helps to build & repair the muscles and bones, provides a source of energy, helps in weight loss, restores body cells, and maintains metabolism processes in the body. There are many foods which contain high amount of fat and carbohydrates along with protein. Therefore it is essential to select the right sources. Here are provided the best protein sources that are good for health and the environment.

Proteins that we eat are broken into individual amino acids which are absorbed and reformed to make new proteins. Then these new proteins are used by the body. There are 22 types of amino acids from which 8 are essential amino acids. Essential amino acids are not created by the body itself so it must be consumed through food. Proteins must be consumed in right amount as excess consumption can cause intestinal irritation, weight gain, seizures, heart disease, dehydration and kidney problems. Protein needs rely on a person’s age group. There are 2 types of proteins: complete and incomplete. The foods that have 8 essential amino acids along with non-essential amino acids are known as "complete" proteins.

1, Beans
Beans are very rich source of protein for vegans or vegetarians. Beans also contain fiber and nutrients in high amount. Always buy dry beans as they have lowest carbon footprint. They are also very low in saturated fat. Nearly all types of beans are excellent source of protein. You can add them to many dishes.

2, Yogurt
Organic/low-fat/ non-fat yogurt is an excellent way to get protein. 1 cup yogurt provides around 11 g protein. Yogurt also contains calcium & Vitamin D in high amount. It helps to boost digestion, make your bones stronger, kill fungal and yeast infections as well as build muscles and tissues. Yogurt also helps to lose weight as it keeps you full for longer period of time. Include yogurt in your breakfast or add it to sauces and other recipes.

3, Tofu
Tofu/ bean curd is a complete source of protein as they provide all 9 essential amino acids. Always buy tofu that is labeled with 100% USDA Certified Organic or non-GMO. Around 10.1 grams of protein is provided by ½ cup serving of raw firm tofu. Carbon footprint of tofu is mostly received from growing and processing of soybeans. You can use tofu in many types such as sautéed, marinated or pureed.

4, Lentils
Lentils are an excellent vegan source of protein, which are quite inexpensive and available easily. They are also rich in fibre, vitamins & minerals and low in calories and fat. About 18 grams protein is provided by 1 cup of cooked lentils. As lentils are low in calories and high in fiber, they are excellent for the people who want to lose weight. You can add lentils in stews and soups or cook them separately.

5, Milk
Milk contains protein in high amount. Always buy non-fat or low-fat (1%) milk from local dairies as they have low amount of carbon footprint. Also select milk from organic and grass-fed cows. While buying milk, look for milk which does not contain rBGH. Milk is also high in calcium which is excellent for bones and teeth.

6, Nuts
Nuts such as hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, almonds, walnuts, peanuts, etc are rich source of protein and healthy fats. People who don’t want to raise their meat intake for them nuts are best. All types of nuts are high in phytonutrients, antioxidants, fiber and Vitamin E. 1 ounce serving of peanuts provide 8 g protein while cashews & walnuts provide10 g protein. You can eat them alone or add them to salads and side dishes.

7, Peanut Butter
Natural peanut butter is great source of protein, fiber and magnesium. Natural peanut butter helps to stay away from extra sugar and partly hydrogenated oils. You can add peanut butter in Asian sauces, stir-fry dishes, baking and snack recipes or eat it by spreading on toast. Don’t consume it in high amount.

8, Brown Rice
Compared to refined and white, brown rice are much higher in protein amount. It also contains high amount of fiber and other nutrients. Brown rice makes you feel fuller for longer as they are high in fiber. Per 100g of brown rice contain 6.9g protein. Rice doesn’t have all 8 essential amino acids so add some nuts or you can have chicken with it.

9, Tomatoes
Tomatoes are not rich source of protein. They provide only 1 gram protein per tomato so include other foods in your diet that have high protein. Tomatoes are low in calories and fat as well as high in fiber. Tomatoes are also rich in vitamin C, potassium, vitamin A and lycopene. Protein amount in tomatoes depend up on the variety and serving sizes.

10, Broccoli
Like tomato, broccoli is also not much rich in protein. 1 cup of broccoli provides just 2 grams of protein. Broccoli is a low-carbon food and high in vitamins C, A, and K. You must also include higher protein foods in your diet. You can add broccoli in soup or salad.

Video of Fruits & Veggies - Protein Sources from youtube:


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