Much of our bodies, including muscles, organs, skin, hair and enzymes are made primarily of protein. Protein is in every cell and is necessary for life. Protein, in turn, is composed of amino acids. Some amino acids are manufactured by the body. Nine other amino acids, called “essential” must come from the foods we eat. Some foods, including all animal proteins like eggs, meat and fish, contain all of the essential amino acids and they’re known as “complete” proteins.
Other foods, particularly plant foods, are incomplete proteins; they must be made complete by getting their missing amino acids from other sources. That’s why vegetarians must rely on certain combinations of foods, e.g., brown rice and beans, peanut butter and whole grain bread, whole grain macaroni and cheese, in order to get complete protein. The only plant exception to this is soybeans and/or soy foods like tofu: they are complete proteins.
Our bodies need a constant supply of protein. We don’t store it as we do fats. But getting enough protein isn’t a problem for the vast majority of us. Most of us, in fact, get too much protein in our diets, or at least more than we need. One complete protein source a day is enough. Scientists once believed that some complete protein was needed at each meal. We now know that the amino acids from protein remain in our bodies for at least four hours and as much as forty-eight hours. So don’t worry about trying to eat complete protein at each meal.
Try to substitute nut and soy protein for some of your red meat consumption. This will lower your risk for cardiovascular disease and lower your risk for cancer.
• Reduces risk of developing chronic degenerative disease