Nutrition expert on the ‘pros’ of protein in your diet
Speaking of diet, one of the key macronutrients that must be present is protein. Here's all you need to know about the ‘pros’ of protein in your diet, as revealed by a nutrition expert
Even as we all get caught up in the vertex of our daily lives, focusing on our overall well-being and good health is prime and while we might be tempted to follow new found health fads and trends when it comes to adopting a fitness routine, what remains constant is the pivotal role one’s diet plays in ensuring good health. Speaking of diet, one of the key macronutrients that must be present is protein where the talk of the town and for good reason, proteins are present throughout our body – be it in our muscles, bones, skin, nails and even hair – virtually every cell or tissue consists of proteins.
In fact, for you to be even able to hold your phone and read this, multiple muscles including those in our arms and eyes are currently at play to ensure smooth functioning. Every little movement, action and internal working of our body including the development of muscles, repair of daily wear and tear, cell regeneration and strengthening of immunity is dependent on this macronutrient, which is correctly known as the building blocks of life.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Girija Damle, Clinical Nutritionist and Dietitian, shared, “It is no surprise that proteins form an essential part of our diet, with the recommended amount of protein that a healthy adult should consume per day being a minimum of 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight and while this might amount to almost an equal amount of protein as one’s body weight – an individual weighing 60 kilograms will require 50-60 g of protein daily – it is not difficult to meet this requirement given the vast option of protein-rich foods can consume.”
Highlighting that be it plant- or animal-based, what sets proteins from both sources apart is their protein content, she revealed, “While animal-based proteins such as meat, fish, dairy and eggs – one boiled egg contain 6-8 grams of proteins - are considered to be more nutritive, often consisting of most if not all nine essential amino acids, there are a number of protein-rich plant proteins too that one can incorporate in one’s diet. Be it a vast array of lentils, which are not only a staple in most Indian households but are also rich in protein, with each bowl of cooked lentil providing 14-16 grams of protein; to dry fruits and nuts such as almonds, which provide approximately 6 grams of protein per ounce – one can easily incorporate protein into their daily diet. Be it a rich dal to accompany your lunch or a quinoa salad with vegetables for a light dinner, meeting one’s daily protein requirement is not much of a hurdle to overcome. Even green plants such as broccoli, spinach and green peas are protein-rich while fruits such as berries, avocado, apricot and guava, which are easily available are good sources of protein.”
Busting the common misconception of plant-based proteins not being complete proteins, the nutrition expert said, “The humble soy – a commonly used ingredient across many Asian countries is now one of the rising stars in the culinary world because of its rich nutrition content. A member of the legume family of vegetables, the protein content in soy is on par with that found even in meat. In fact, soybeans are one of the handfuls of known plant foods that contain all the nine essential amino acids that are absolutely indispensable for the body's daily functioning. The protein content of soybeans is around 36–56 per cent of its dry weight, with one bowl of soybeans providing approximately 28 grams of protein – almost half of the daily recommended protein intake.”
Explaining its nutritional properties, Girija Damle said, “Apart from being protein-rich, soy is an excellent source of Vitamin C, Omega-3 fatty acids, folate, calcium, fibre, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium – all while being low in saturated fat. Not just a high protein content, soy has multi-fold health benefits including reducing the risk of heart disease by maintaining cholesterol levels, promoting gut health, regulating blood glucose levels and reducing the risk of cancer such as breast and cervical cancer among others. Soybeans are also known to reduce the risk of many long-term diseases such as diabetes, coronary heart disease and atherosclerosis, while the treasure trove of antioxidants helps boost immunity.”
According to her, what makes soy truly an ingredient to add to one’s pantry is its availability and flexibility when it comes to being adapted into a number of recipes. She concluded, “From enjoying soy milk in milkshakes and smoothies to stir-fried tofu to preparing soy chunks to taste exactly like meat in a delicious biryani or soy kebabs, the options are endless to suit any palate. So be it adding a handful of sprouts to one’s salad or adding veggie sticks to dip in one’s hummus or including an egg for breakfast or a simple tofu stir fry by the side during dinner, a conscious effort to include an adequate amount of protein in one’s daily meals is essential. After all, the underlying question we all must ask is – Aaj khaane mein kya protein hai?”