We’re often told to eat more proteins, but what exactly are proteins? Proteins are a type of macromolecule, just like carbohydrates. Proteins have a slightly different structure and serve a couple different purposes. Like carbohydrates, proteins are a source of energy. However, they’re also involved in transporting materials in and out of cells and throughout our body, repairing tissues and muscles, providing structure to our cells, and protecting our body from harmful microorganisms such as viruses and bacteria. Another major purpose that proteins serve in our body is digestion. Enzymes that break down food are also proteins. These are some of the functions that proteins have at a molecular level. Clearly, proteins play an undeniably important role in our health, so how can we get a sufficient amount of proteins in our diet?
Some of the most common high-protein foods are eggs, chicken, milk, beef, and pork. Many people believe that those on a plant-based diet can’t get enough proteins, but this certainly isn’t true. Different types of beans, lentils, tofu, nuts, quinoa, chickpeas, and almonds have an amount of protein comparable to animal based foods. The thing about plant based proteins though is that they are not always complete proteins. This means that it is especially important to get a variety of these foods in order to have all the proteins necessary for life. It’s important to know that being high in protein doesn’t automatically make a food healthy. Some foods that are high in protein are also high in fats. Here are a couple healthy high protein foods: eggs, chia seeds, quinoa, legumes, beans, fish, and milk. For people who eat meat, the healthiest meat is white meat, fish, pork tenderloin, and lean red meat. This is to ensure that the high intake of fat and cholesterol with meat isn’t making it more unhealthy.
Proteins are extremely important for us. We need to make sure we’re getting our daily amount of protein. At the same time, we should never focus only on the proteins and disregard any other undesirable aspects of a food that could make it unhealthy. Happy Friday!