Proteins are one of the most important molecules that keep our cells functioning properly. They are made up of amino acids. The structure and function of our body depends on this nutrient. The organization of the cells, tissues and organs of the body cannot take place without the protein. Proteins play a crucial role in almost every biological process and their functions are very diverse. Their main functions in the body are to build, strengthen, repair and replenish the tissues. The body needs protein to renew the muscle structure and develop.
Where can we get protein from?
We know that proteins are one of the main essential nutrients. However, the proteins in the foods we consume do not usually turn into proteins in our bodies.
When we consume food containing amino acids, these amino acids focus on production or synthesizing of proteins. If we do not consume certain amino acids, we cannot make enough protein synthesis for our bodies to work right. In addition, there are nine basic amino acids human body cannot produce and these should come from foods.
The amino acids that human body cannot produce on its own are: Histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. Foods containing equal proportions of these basic amino acids are called complete proteins. Complete proteins basically come from animal sources such as milk, meat and eggs.
Soya and kinoa are vegetable sources that we can call complex proteins. Red beans, lentils, whole wheat rice and peanut butter also provide complete proteins. Research shows that the body does not require all the amino acids in one meal because it benefits from amino acids received from the last meal. That is, the recommended food is protein but what we actually need is amino acids.
What happens if we have protein deficiency?
A low intake of protein means poor muscle formation, edema or swelling, thin and brittle hair or skin lesions. If a person is deprived of protein, energy deficiency is very common. In addition, you can suspect protein deficiency if your immune system is down with symptoms such as fatigue and frequent illnesses.
How much protein do we need?
If you want to enhance your protein intake, you need to take in protein not just at dinner but throughout the whole day. According to a research carried out at Texas University, the muscles' protein synthesis increases at the rate of 25 percent (when 30 grams of protein is taken per meal) when people eat protein throughout the whole day.
According to National Health Statistics Center, we take protein (13 grams) during breakfast; we consume three times more protein at dinner (38 grams).
But how much protein do we need per day? Experts say it is difficult to recommend exact quantities because it depends on gender, age and weight. However, if we generalize, healthy bodies need 0.75 grams of protein per body weight. For example, if you weigh 140 kilograms you will approximately need 105 grams of protein per day. The popularity of high protein diets in recent times has caused people to exceed the protein intake required. However, do not forget that extra protein intake is not a solution to any problem.
Foods high in protein
Animals and their byproducts aren't the only ways to get protein origin, remember you can get protein from plants as well. Plants are as alive as animals in terms of their cellular structure; thus, they have protein content. In particular, legumes are rich in protein.
Let's have a look at some great sources of protein:
You can either consume this delicious legume as a hummus or add it into your soup. Chickpea is an excellent source of protein and fiber. In addition to protein and fiber, chickpea also contains iron, zinc, vitamins and minerals.
Cottage cheese is one of the first recommendations of experts in terms of protein. There are 14 grams of protein in half a glass of cottage cheese.
Good and quality protein, containing all the necessary amino acids, is available 100 percent in the body. All kinds of animal proteins are included in this group, and kinoa is one of the few vegetables in the group. When compared to foods such as rice and wheat, it has higher quality and quantity of protein.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) database, cooked kinoa has eight grams of protein per cup. In addition, we can also say that it is one of the few excellent proteins for vegetarians. It contains nine essential amino acids that your body needs. It would give you energy for weight lifting and long meetings.
You can receive plenty of protein by consuming salmon. However, protein is hard to digest when compared to other food products.
We said that protein needs vary according to the individual. In this respect, 1.5 kilograms of salmon fillet contains 40 grams of protein. Salmon is also rich in omega-3 that enriches the metabolism.
In addition to rich protein content, almonds also contain high amounts of vitamin C. This positively affects the health of your skin and hair. In addition, almonds provide 61 percent of the daily recommended magnesium intake; which may help reduce sugar intake, calm premenstrual syndrome cramps, enhance bone health and relieve muscle pain and spasms.
Chia seeds contains high amounts of fiber and protein. It also contains carbohydrates, but it mixes slowly in the blood because it is high in fiber. Thus, it creates sense of fullness and keeps you full for a long time.
In addition to being a good protein source, cashews also ensure 20 percent of recommended magnesium intake and 12 percent of the recommended vitamin K.
There are five grams of protein in a handful of pumpkin seeds, and this means 10 percent of daily protein requirement. Pumpkin seeds keep you full for a long time with high protein values. It also contains fibers, minerals and magnesium. It is a mineral that relaxes muscles and helps to open airwaves. Thus, you can breathe easier. Animal studies indicate that magnesium deficiency causes adverse effects on histamine levels.
Another secret protein source is potatoes. While it has a bad reputation in terms of nutritional value, a medium-sized potato contains four grams of protein and meets 20 percent of the daily potassium intake.
Broccoli is not only a great fiber source; it is also an astonishing vegetable with its protein content. There are two grams of protein in half a cup of cooked broccoli.
It is especially rich in terms of oil and protein, and avocado is known by sportsmen and those interested in fitness. It helps body tissues and skin renewal.