It goes without saying that you need protein to be healthy. If you take away the fat in your body and the water in your body, all that is left--your bones and muscles and tissues and hair and skin and fingernails and toenails and hormones and enzymes are mostly protein. When you think of it like that, you can see how important it is to include protein foods in your daily meal plans.
Generally, when we discuss protein in the diet, we are talking about meat, eggs and dairy products. Another way of saying this is that most, but not all, of the protein in your meals comes from the main course.
Steak… Hamburger… Roast Beef… Pork chops… Ham… Bacon… Sausage… Hot dogs… Lamb chops… Chicken… Turkey… Duck… Capon… Fish… Shrimp… Lobster… Crab… Scallops… Venison… Omelets… Egg Salad…
Dairy products, such as milk, cheese and yogurt are also good protein foods.
In addition, there are some plant foods that are significant protein foods. These are include legumes, grains, some vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Lentils… Split peas… Kidney beans… Pinto beans… Black beans… Soybeans… Garbanzo beans… Navy beans… Peanuts… Peanut Butter… Rice… Wheat…. Barley… Oats… Peas… Kale… Okra… Walnuts… Brazil Nuts… Almonds… Pumpkin Seeds… Sesame Seeds….
Most of the food you eat has some protein in them, but those foods listed above, are a significant source that will make it easier for you to fulfill your daily protein requirements.
Fun Fact about Protein Foods: Your body actually reuses the protein from the cells of your gastro-intestinal lining when they are sloughed off (about every three days) and replaced with news ones. This allows you to have protein available from another source besides the food you eat. What an amazing creation we are!
Complete or Incomplete
Foods that contain all of the essential amino acids are called “complete proteins.” These complete protein foods are generally animal foods. Plant foods do not, as a rule, have complete proteins, but by eating combinations of plant foods, called “complementary proteins, ” you can obtain a complete protein.
For example, when you eat black beans with rice, such as is often found in Mexican cuisine, you are obtaining a complete protein. The beans and rice complement each other, in that each has some of the essential amino acids and when eaten together, they provide all of the essential amino acids. It is generally accepted that it is not necessary to eat these complementary proteins at the same meal.
Here is a list of complementary proteins, that is proteins that when eaten together become complete.
Legumes... with Nuts
Legumes... with Grains
Legumes... with Seeds
Legumes... with Dairy
Grains... with Dairy
Nuts/Seeds... with Dairy
Nuts/Seeds... with Legumes
Dairy... with Nuts/Seeds and Legumes
Vegetarians and Vegans, in particular, need to be aware of the importance of the essential amino acids.
Click here for a link to information about vegetarian diets.
Protein Foods - What if you don’t eat enough of them?
You already know that protein is an important nutrient. For that reason, if there is not enough protein in your diet, it will have a noticeable effect on your health, from being susceptible to infections to actually wasting away.
Severe protein deficiency is most often associated with starvation and malnutrition and is a major cause for concern in developing nations, especially among children. In developed countries, severe protein deficiency is mostly associated with those in extreme poverty or those suffering with eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa. Severe protein deficiency can lead to death.