You should have adequate amounts of proteins in your daily diet for healthy muscles, youthful skin and lustrous hair. But do you know which food items contain the most proteins?
Protein is a complex macromolecule, which consists of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, and sulfur. It is composed of unbranched chains of amino acids. A typical protein consists of about 200-300 amino acids. It is a fundamental component of all living cells. Proteins are required to produce, maintain, and repair all components of the body such as bones, hair, skin, muscles, and other organs. Proteins play a significant role in the production and regulation of hormones, enzymes, and have a vital role in the coding and sequencing of genes. They also supply energy, but not as much as carbohydrates. Proteins can be obtained from various food sources including dairy products, eggs, meat, fish, vegetables, and legumes.
Best Sources of Dietary Protein
There are two types of proteins – complete and incomplete. Complete proteins consist of all the essential amino acids. Most animal food sources, including eggs, poultry, meat, fish, milk, and cheese, provide complete proteins. Eggs are the richest source of complete proteins. Some plant proteins, such as soybeans, are also complete proteins. Incomplete proteins consist of small quantities of one or more essential amino acids. Most plant-based food such as seeds, nuts, vegetables, legumes (peas and beans), and grains are incomplete proteins. Some good sources of proteins are as follows:-
Fish and Seafood
Seafood is one of the best protein sources. It usually consists of low amounts of fats. Fish such as salmon contains decent quantities of fats but these are mostly beneficial lipids, such as essential omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for cardiovascular health.
Dairy products such as milk, yogurt, cream, and cheese are rich sources of proteins. They also provide calcium and essential vitamins. They help keep teeth and bones strong and prevent osteoporosis. If you go for skimmed or low-fat dairy products, they double up as healthy additions to a weight-loss diet, besides providing your body with essential proteins.
Meat and Poultry
Eggs are an excellent source of complete proteins. Healthy adults are advised to eat an egg daily. Meat contains a significant amount of proteins. White or poultry meat is preferable over red meat as it offers excellent quantities of lean proteins while containing only a fraction of the amount of fats in red meat. Dark meat contains higher quantities of fats and not all of it is good for your cholesterol levels. Poultry meat should be best consumed skinless if you wish to further eliminate fats.
Legumes and Grains
Beans, lentils, red kidney beans, soybeans, whole grains, and all food products made from them are the best sources of proteins for vegetarians and vegans. Half a cup of beans contains almost the same quantity of proteins as 3 ounces of broiled steak. Beans are also loaded with beneficial dietary fibers. Soybeans provide complete proteins and 8 essential amino acids.
Nuts and Seeds
Seeds and nuts such as cashews, almonds, lima beans, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, cotton seeds, and sunflower seeds are rich in proteins.
Supplemental proteins in the form of protein powder, protein shakes, protein bars, etc., are often taken by bodybuilders to build body mass by letting their bodies replace fats, burned during exercise, with muscles. If you wish to train with weights, whether to bulk up or simply to lose weight via strength training, you should get a qualified personal trainer or a certified nutritionist to recommend what type and quantity of such a supplement would be right for your body, depending upon your food habits (vegetarian, non-vegetarian, vegan, etc.) and the type of physical training you have signed up for.
The Need for Proteins
Proteins are essential for normal functioning of the body. They play a crucial role in the formation of DNA and production and regulation of hormones. They also significantly contribute towards the body’s immune system, cell signaling, cell cycle, and cellular adhesion. Proteins are required to make hemoglobin, which is an important part of red blood cells. Contractile proteins are needed for motion and locomotion of cells and organisms. Proteins play a significant role in transporting materials in and via the body fluids. Proteins are essential nutrients and an integral part of a balanced, healthy diet. Eating appropriate quantities of proteins is necessary for stronger muscles and healthy body tissues. A proper balance of proteins in the diet helps you lose weight more efficiently. Daily protein requirement for kids is about 0.5 grams per pound of body weight. About 60 grams of proteins are required for adults everyday.
Make your diet balanced and complete by including these good sources of proteins to at least two meals. Since proteins are the building blocks of all biological tissues, it is obvious that they handle the job of cell repair and rejuvenation beautifully well. So, that essentially means that including the right amounts of proteins in your diet is your first step towards defying the effects of biological aging, which is nothing but your cells not getting repaired at the same rate as they are undergoing wear and tear. Think about it, the first evident signs of aging are reflected on your skin in the form of wrinkles and loss of dermal elasticity. The material that keeps your skin firm, therefore young looking, is collagen, which is a protein. If nothing else, this should be a good reason to alert you to the importance of including more proteins in your diet.