Sunday, November 25, 2007

Essential Nutrient Building Blocks of PROTEIN

Next to water, protein is the most plentiful substance in your body. It is primarily involved in the growth, repair and development of all body tissues. It is an essential nutrient that is made up of a long chain of amino acids, commonly known as the building blocks of protein. Protein is found in the outer and inner membranes of every living cell. Even our DNA is made up of nucleoproteins.

Your body needs approximately 50-60 g of protein every day, which you can get from animal sources (such as meat or dairy) and plant sources (such as tofu or nuts). If you do not get enough protein, your body will start to digest other proteins such as the protein in muscle. This is, however, rare in modern diets, as protein is consumed in fairly high amounts of around 120 g per day.

Your body requires 22 different amino acids to make the proteins it needs. Nine of these are considered essential, which means you need to obtain them from your diet, and the rest are non-essential, meaning your body can manufacture them itself from carbohydrates, fats and other amino acids.

The quality of protein

The quality of protein is measured by how well the human body can absorb it. Because animal products (like beef, pork, chicken, fish, cottage cheese and eggs) contain a similar amino acid formation as is present in the human body, they are absorbed more efficiently and therefore called a high-quality protein, or complete protein. However, some can be higher in saturated fat than plant proteins your protein intake by combining different incomplete, plant-based proteins. For example, legumes (beans) complement nuts and seeds, so a meal consisting of chilli beans plus a salad sprinkled with pumpkin seeds, or chilli beans with cheese sprinkled on top would both be excellent ways to combine incomplete proteins. A cup of yoghurt with chopped nuts sprinkled on top is a great example. Another is whole-grain rice and beans.

(The egg is considered a fantastic protein food because it provides the right amounts of all the essential amino acids and therefore is most useful to the human body.)

One of our favourite quick protein meals is a Protein Omelette. Also we have given you our Baked Salmon Loaf. A great snack for a busy day is a Fruit Smoothie - take it with you in a thermos. All these meals are quick to prepare - ideal for times when you are busy but want good healthy food.

... andjoyohoxing