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We all are familiar with the term protein and its role in our diet.  This article is a summary of pros and cons of both animal and plant based protein.

We all are familiar with the term protein and its role in our diet. It’s a very essential part of one’s diet as it helps to build, repair and maintain the body’s structures. Every part of our body from muscles to each organ to the bones, skin and hair contains protein. Protein is not stored in our body like other macronutrients, so here our diet plays a very important role for protein intake.

 Traditionally animal-based protein was mainly consumed, but now with more plant-based protein sources emerging to the scene, we have got healthier options to pick from. The selection of an ideal source of protein has been in constant argument ever since.

Here in this article we will discuss these sources of protein and will provide you with a better understanding which will help you choose which one is good for your health.

Plant-based protein

Sources: grains, lentils, nuts, beans, legumes, certain fruits, such as avocado, soy, hemp

  • Before choosing the source of protein between plant and animal sources, it is very important to know about the other nutrients that the foods can provide. The plant-based protein lacks heme iron and vitamin B-12.
  • While plant-based contains phytonutrients and some antioxidants which are absent in animal protein. Fibre is another important factor which is only present in plant-based foods.
  • However, according to the latest study and findings, it is found that plant-based proteins are linked with a lower health risk of death from any cause. The main source of plant proteins is legumes (such as peas, beans and lentils), whole grains and nuts. These proteins are directly associated with a lower risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
  • Plant-based protein is associated with 8% lower risk of all-cause mortality and a 12% lower risk of cardiovascular disease mortality. Studies also stated that an additional 3% of energy from plant-based proteins a day is associated with a 5% lower risk of death from all causes.
  • It is associated with favourable changes in blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels which help to lower the risk of heart diseases and type-2 diabetes.

Animal-based protein

Sources: fish, various types of eggs, dairy products, such as cheese, milk, and whey, red meat, poultry from sources such as chickens, turkeys, and quails.

  • These are considered to be complete sources of protein because they contain all of the essential amino acids that your body needs to function effectively.
  • Of course, proteins are rarely found in isolation. They usually come with a wide variety of other nutrients. Foods that contain animal protein tend to be high in several nutrients that are often lacking in plant foods.
  • Most of the animal protein contains high levels of heme iron and vitamin B-12.
  • The high intake of animal-based proteins from red meat or mutton are associated with several health problems and poses a higher risk of mortality.
  • People who eat fish regularly are also likely to have a lower risk of heart attacks, strokes and death from heart disease.
  • Additionally, eating eggs has been linked to improved cholesterol levels and weight loss. In one study, women who ate eggs for breakfast, rather than a bagel, reported feeling fuller and ate less later in the day.

Take-Home Message

We all know that animal-based source contains all 9 amino acids (building blocks of protein) while plant-based source lacks some essential amino acids so we have to depend upon different types of grains and cereals in order to get all essential amino acids as required by our body.

For optimal health, the evidence supports a diet that is low in processed meat, rich in plant protein, with some animal sources such as grass-fed meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy. As plant-based sources often have lower quality proteins, vegetarians and vegans should eat a wide variety of foods to ensure that they are getting all the amino acids that they need. For meat-eaters, it’s important to get the right balance of both animal and plant foods.

Co-author: Richika

Read about The Mediterranean diet


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