The Best Sources Of Protein
Proteins are nutrients composed of amino acids, some of which are called “essential” because they cannot be synthesized by the body and must therefore be brought by the diet. Proteins are essential to our health. They may be of animal or vegetable origin.
Why Do We Need Protein?
Proteins play an important role in:
– The construction and maintenance of our bones, muscles, skin, hair, nails and cell membranes,
– The synthesis and action of our hormones and enzymes necessary for our digestion and metabolism,
– The interconnection of our neurons,
– The transport of substances such as iron, hemoglobin, triglycerides, cholesterol, phospholipids or drugs,
– Maintenance of oncotic pressure, coagulation, immune system…
Note: the energy role of proteins is secondary (1 g brings 4 kcal).
Where we can find food proteins?
Foods rich in proteins of animal origin are: meats, fish, crustaceans, molluscs, eggs, milk and dairy products (yoghurt, cheese, small Swiss…).
Foods rich in proteins of vegetable origin are: cereals (quinoa, barley, wheat, oats, rye …), legumes (soybeans, lentils, dry beans, flageolet, chickpeas, split peas…).
The nutritional quality of proteins depends on their biological value which is determined by their content of essential amino acids. More a protein contains the essential amino acids, the more it is considered to be a protein of high biological value (egg protein being the reference protein because it contains all the essential amino acids).
Vegetable proteins are often of lower nutritional quality than animal proteins because they often lack one or more essential amino acids. However, it is possible to reestablish the balance in amino acids, associating them during the same meal. This complementarity has been used for a long time and forms the basis of the vegetarian diet.
Examples of good associations:
– Semolina + chick peas,
– Soya + rice,
– Corn + red bean,
– Lentils + rice.
Note the interest of Quinoa whose proteins bring all the amino acids essential to the organism.
For example, 20 g of protein are contained in one of the following propositions:
Among the animal proteins:
– 100 g of meat,
– 100 g of fish,
– 2 eggs,
– 200 g of tofu,
– 3 to 4 yoghurts,
– 300 g of white cheese,
– ½ liter of milk,
– 60 g of cooked cheese,
– 90 g of soft cheese, or 3 portions of camembert …,
– 100 g of Mozzarella, 1 ball,
– 100 g of Feta,
– 60 g dry goat,
– 400 g fresh goat cheese or other fresh cheese.
Among the vegetable proteins:
– 250 g (cooked weight) of pulses, ie 75 g dry weight: lentils, dried beans, chickpeas …,
– 250 g (cooked weight) of quinoa,
– 500 g (cooked weight) of pasta, rice, semolina, ie 150 g dry weight,
– 250 g of bread, or 1 baguette.
ATTENTION: the equivalences above only concern the protein intake but not at all the calorie intake. For example, among these protein equivalents:
– 100 g of lean fish = 50 kcal, mainly in the form of proteins,
– 250 g of bread = 640 kcal, mainly in the form of carbohydrates,
– 100 g of mozzarella = 280 kcal, mainly in the form of lipids.