Protein in Diet: An Important Nutrient for Your Body
Protein is one of the micronutrients our body needs to perform multiple functions and build muscles and tissue. It must be included in our daily balanced diet so our body can grow, repair, and maintain. Therefore, you need to choose high protein foodsthat can provide essential nutrients in the right quantity. Fortunately, you have plenty of vegetarian balanced diet options to pick from, such as pulses, beans, nuts, and several dairy products, all of which help maintain good health.
Why Your Body Needs Protein – Explained
Here are the top 5 reasons why you must make a protein-rich diet an integral part of your daily life:
1. Digest: Half of your daily dietary protein consumption goes into making enzymes that help in multiple biochemical reactions occur within and outside of cells. Enzymes form a structure to combine with molecules present in cells called substrates that produce reactions required for metabolism. Digestive enzymes help in digestion and other functions of our body.
2. Build: Protein aids in the formation of muscles, bones, skin, and cartilage. Our nails and hair are comprised of protein. Consuming adequate protein maintains muscle mass and ensures proper muscle growth, especially if you are doing strength training. Also, sufficient protein intake prevents muscle loss throughout your weight loss journey.
3. Regulate: Hormones are chemical messengers in our body that travel through cells, organs and tissues, and enable communication between them. Glands or endocrine tissues secrete hormones, which are then transported in blood to their target organs to meet their protein receptors on the cell surface. Thus, meet your daily requirement of protein to regulate hormones, especially during puberty when your cells transform and develop.
4. Repair: Protein helps your body repair when it’s been injured. It’s a building block for your tissues and organs, contributing to their growth and maintenance. so, when you are perfectly fine, your body breaks down the same amount of protein that it needs to build and repair tissues. However, when you are ill or injured, your body breaks down more protein that it creates. Hence, during recovery period, you need more protein-rich diet.
Good Protein Sources
Authentic evidence proved that replacing animal-based proteins with plant-based proteins can provide ample benefits:
1. Cereals and whole grains
Whole grains, such as barley, millet, oatmeal, brown rice, etc., can provide you with as much iron as any non-vegetarian portion of a meal.
2. Beans and pulses
Beans and pulses are inexpensive yet the best sources of protein that are also high in iron and fiber. Lentils and peas are also a part of this legume family and consuming them daily can bring down cholesterol levels. You can add them to soups, sauces, and stews if you are bored of using them in regular recipes.
Eggs have low saturated fat and provide the necessary B12 and vitamin D that we need. One medium egg is known to provide around 6gm of protein in a digestible form. So, start your day on a healthy note with a delicious omelette. However, if you have familial hypercholesterolemia, then it’s better to consult a dietician about how many eggs you can eat in a day.
For those who are dairy intolerant, soya protein foods, such as soya milk and tofu, are highly recommended. They are a complete protein and the best part is that they are low in fat. Moreover, they mitigate the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels.
5. Milk and Yoghurt
We need to emphasise the importance of cheese, milk, and yoghurt in protein-rich foods. They also provide calcium which keeps our bones healthy and strong. You can choose low-fat dairy products to consume low saturated fat without compromising on your calcium and protein intake.
6. Nuts and seeds
If you are always on the move or in rush, then nuts and seeds can be your best choice. They are packed with fiber, but make sure to eat only a handful per day as they are high in unsaturated fat. You can eat peanuts, pistachio, walnuts, and almonds as an evening snack. Add them to salads or pasta for a delightful twist.
Protein should be a key part of your daily diet. However, many people avoid it just because they don’t like protein-rich foods, which lead to unhealthy eating habits. The above-mentioned sources of protein add an interesting and delicious twist to your meals. So, start including them in your everyday diet and stay healthy.
Kunal Tambe is part of the content marketing team at Two Brothers Organic Farms. With his team, he works tirelessly to create awareness about organic farming, food sovereignty, sustainable practices, nutrition, climate change and a myriad of issues that surround these topics. His content offers value to farmers, the agriculture industry and to end consumers. Besides writing and developing content strategies, he loves adventure sports and listening to classical music.