Grow Foods: A 101 on Dietary Proteins

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Here are the answers to some very practical and frequently asked questions about protein:

What are amino acids?

Amino acids are monomers or single units that make up proteins. Some amino acids are referred to as non-essential as our bodies are able to produce them.

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How do protein sources vary according to nutritional value?

Different foods would contain different amounts of essential amino acids. Generally, animal products have all the essential amino acids and are known as complete proteins. Plant foods that contain all the essential amino acids include soy and soy products, quinoa, and amaranth seeds.

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What are the healthiest food sources of protein?

Sources of protein don’t contain just protein. They would contain other nutrients such as carbs, fats, vitamins, and minerals too. And if your protein source is highly processed, they would contain multiple additives such as preservatives, flavor & color enhancers, sweeteners and sodium.

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How much protein should one be consuming on a daily basis?

Adults should typically consume 10–15% of total calories from protein. Those who may be exempted from this rule of thumb are those with extraordinary physiological conditions or physical activity that would require them to eat more or less protein per day.

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How do proteins make up our bodies?

Excluding water and fat, our bodies are made up almost entirely of protein. Our muscles, bones, organs, skin and nails, even the blood that runs through our body are made up of protein.

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What happens when you don’t consume enough protein?

Protein deficiency may occur to people experiencing poverty, or to those with special requirements — older people and people following strict vegetarian or vegan diets.

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Are high protein diets good for you?

Any protein you consume in excess of what your body needs is either stored as fat or excreted as waste. This means that diets that are very high in protein stress the kidneys and liver. These also cause excessive loss of calcium and increase your risk of osteoporosis.

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Bonus question: Do root crops like potatoes contain a beneficial amount of protein?

A medium-size 5.3 oz potato with skin-on provides 3 grams of plant-based protein. In fact, this amount exceeds that of all other commonly consumed vegetables, except dry beans.

Photo from Potatoes USA

Final Words

Protein makes up the structure of every living, moving, and breathing human that we encounter everyday. And because of this, we need to ensure that we are supplying our bodies with adequate amounts of protein depending on our needs.

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