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Plant Vs. Animal Protein

Protein…… the building blocks of life! Protein is made up of amino acids, which are known as the building blocks of the body. We need these amino acids in order to ensure maximum support of all body functions such as muscle building and hormone balancing. Every single food has trace protein in small amounts but certain foods are better sources of protein, meaning they have more protein per calorie. When most people think of “protein”, they probably think of animal protein. This is because it’s been deeply engraved in our culture that meat is the best source of protein. There is, however, another way to get protein: plant protein. So, which is better for us? Plant or animal protein? We will discuss it below!

One of the main differences between plant and animal proteins involves their amino acid contents. A person’s body needs a balance of all 22 types of amino acids to function correctly. Nine of these amino acids are considered “essential” which means we need them in our diet because our body cannot make them. A complete protein source refers to a type of food that contains all nine of these essential amino acids Most meat-based sources are what are called “complete” sources of protein. This means they contain all nine essential amino acids. Most plant proteins are considered “incomplete”, which means that they are missing at least one of the essential amino acids. However, some plant-based foods, such as quinoa. soy, and buckwheat are complete sources of protein. Just because there are less sources of complete proteins for vegans and vegetarians doesn't mean there isn't a way to reach your adequate protein needs. To obtain adequate protein, It is important for vegetarians and vegans to mix their protein sources and ensure that they are getting all of the essential amino acids! If you do this, there should be no problem getting all the amino acids you need. The following are examples of plant-based foods rich in protein: grains, lentils, nuts, beans, legumes, and soy.

Where plant protein really shines though is that it is a great source of other nutrients that will benefit your body. When choosing between plant and animal sources of protein, it is important to factor in the other nutrients that the foods provide. Plant protein is superior to animal protein because it is a source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Fiber is important for keeping the gut healthy and it also is associated with reduced risk for heart disease, stroke, hypertension, some gastrointestinal diseases, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. It’s also a better choice because of what it doesn’t have! Plant protein is free of cholesterol and lower in saturated fats than animal protein. This is helpful because it can help reduce the risk of heart disease among many things.

So, in summary, you can obtain adequate amounts of protein from both sources. However, plant protein seems to be the better choice since it contains more fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and is lower in saturated fat.


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