Proteins are important nutrient components that are made of essential and non-essential amino acids that provide energy to the body. Proteins control many important metabolic functions in the body and are fundamental components of all living cells.
Proteins are essential building blocks that contribute to the growth and development of muscles, bones, ligaments and tissues. Proteins help fight infections by boosting the immune system. They are also required to maintain the bodily functions such as digestion, metabolism and circulation. Our body needs these macronutrients to produce enzymes, hormones and other body chemicals. Haemoglobin helps in the supply of oxygen to every part of the body. Protein deficiency can lead to loss of muscle tissues, a weak heart, weak immunity and even death in extreme cases.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance for proteins is 0.8 gram per kilogram for adults. Pregnant and lactating women require 70 grams of proteins per day. Active and elderly people require more than the RDA for adults i.e. more than 0.8 grams per kilogram.
[ Read: Sources of Vitamin B6 ]
Sources Of High-Protein Foods:
Our body gets proteins from the food we eat. There are a number of food sources that provide proteins in ample amounts. These choices include meats, dairy products, fruits, vegetables and nuts.
- Animal sources and dairy products have the highest amount of proteins. They contain all the essential amino acids required to make new proteins in the body. Animal proteins include meat, eggs, poultry, sea food and dairy products. Dairy products that contain proteins include milk, cheese, paneer and yoghurt.
- Vegetables, fruits and legumes are other sources of protein. They are not perfect sources of proteins as they lack in one or more amino acids that are needed for the creation of proteins.
- The nutrients present in fruits are essential for maintaining a healthy skin and hair. You can consume a fruit in its raw form or can create a variety of preparations like fruit salads, concoction of juices, smoothies, milk shakes and so on. Apart from having high levels of protein, fruits are also low in fats and high in fibre which will keep you full for a longer period of time and prevent bloating.
- Supplement proteins are available in the form of protein powder, protein shakes, protein bars and so on. These supplements are taken by body builders to build the body mass by burning body fats during exercises.
Meat contains a significant amount of proteins. White or poultry meats are healthier than red meats because of their high content of lean proteins. Chicken is one of the most nutritious and versatile meats. Four ounces of chicken contains 32 grams of protein, with very low fat and cholesterol. Chicken is best nutritionally when boiled, roasted and baked.
Dark meat, though good in proteins, contains a high amount of fats and can also raise the cholesterol levels. 58 grams of chicken breasts contains 17 grams of protein and 37 grams of chicken thigh contains 9 grams of protein. For a high amount of protein, choose lean meats or opt for poultry or fish. Try and avoid frying meats like bacon, hot dog or deep fried chicken as frying removes the protein content. Meat from organs like the liver or kidney contains too much sodium and fats which outweigh the benefit of the high protein foods.
[ Read: Biotin Rich Foods ]
2. Beans/ Legumes:
Beans and legumes are one of the best options when it comes to protein-rich foods and are considered the best protein sources for vegetarians. Legumes like peas, lentils and beans like pinto, garbanzo, white, kidney and soy beans, are all packed with protein. Beans are also loaded with dietary fiber and 8 essential amino acids. Beans contain an approximate 9 mg of protein per gram, and some varieties also contain 12g per 100 grams.
Black beans contain 7.5 grams of protein and are extremely low in fat with just 1 gram of fat. Soy bean is a nice addition to lunch and salads and contains more than 11 grams of protein. Chickpeas contain 16 grams of protein per 100 grams. They are one of the best foods high in protein for vegetarians. Kidney beans provide 7.5 grams of protein per 100 grams. Like other beans, baked beans are high in proteins and offer 6 grams of protein per 100 grams.
Nuts like cashews, almonds, and peanuts are high protein food. The highest amount of proteins are available in Brazil nuts. One ounce of Brazil nut is sufficient to fulfil the protein requirement for the day. Brazil nuts are rich in amino acids and omega 3 fatty acids that help in muscle development and prevent skin dryness. Almonds are nuts with a number of health benefits, including a high level of protein. ¼ cup of almonds contains 8 grams of protein.
Almonds have low fat content and are a great source of protein-rich food for vegetarians. Peanuts are a high source of protein as well with 8 grams of protein. Peanut butter is also a good source of proteins and provides us with 8 grams of protein per 30 grams. The only downside with protein is that it is high in fats, so add to your diet in moderation.