What is protein? It is a family of amino acid molecules your body needs for the growth, maintenance and repair of all cells; is a major component of all muscles, tissues and organs; is vital for the metabolism, digestion and the transportation of nutrients and oxygen in the blood; it is necessary for the production of antibodies which fight against infection and illnesses; and is the main nutrient that keeps our hair shiny and healthy, our nails strong, our skin fresh and glowing and our bodies strong and healthy.
There are two types of proteins, complete and incomplete proteins. “Complete” proteins have all 8 essential amino acids (the ninth amino acid is only required during infancy and childhood) and tend to come from animal sources of protein such as meat, dairy products, eggs, fish, shellfish and poultry. ”Incomplete” proteins are usually lacking in one or more of the essential amino acids and come from plant sources like fruits, vegetables, pulses, grains and nuts. However, soy foods contain all the essential amino acids in the amounts our bodies need.
There are several advantages to eating plant protein:
- Plant protein does not contain any cholesterol or saturated fats.
- Plant protein is rich in antioxidants, calcium, zinc, and other minerals and vitamins.
- Plant protein is high in fibre.
“It is very easy for a vegan diet to meet the recommendations for protein, as long as calorie intake is adequate. Strict protein combining is not necessary; it is more important to eat a varied diet throughout the day.” – Reed Mangels, Ph.D., R.D.; Vegetarian Resource Group, VRG.org