The Power of Protein
Protein is known as the building block of life. Protein is an essential nutrient responsible for many functions within your body. These include building muscle, bones, skin, blood and tissue. A very large portion of your hair and nails is made of protein.
During digestion, protein foods are broken down into smaller parts called amino acids. A protein is therefore basically made up of a chain of amino acids. 20 amino acids make up a protein.
Amino acids are found in:
- Beans and legumes such as kidney beans, garbanzo beans, legumes, chick peas, black beans;
- Nuts and seeds such as almonds, walnuts, brazil nuts (also high in the antioxidant, selenium), hazelnuts;
- Nut butters;
- Some grains such as quinoa and wheat germ;
- Tofu, tempeh and other soy products (preferable organic).
A well balanced diet will provide you with the right amount of protein you need per day. If you are vegetarian, you will get your protein from a wide variety of plant foods containing protein.
It is a good idea to eat a small portion of protein in each meal, including a healthy fat such as olive oil, avocado, coconut oil, nuts and carbohydrate such as a grain, vegetable.
Protein powders come in all colours, forms and price tags. They are becoming more popular as a nutritional supplement and can come in the form of whey, soy and casein protein powder. More recently hemp seed powder has ascended onto the scene. Some are made with sugar, some not.
- Whey: Derived from cow’s milk, it is known as the king of all protein powders as it is a complete protein;
- Casein: This is the main milk protein;
- Pea protein: This is derived from the yellow pea. It is a useful alternative for anyone dairy intolerant;
- Hemp: Derived from hemp seeds, it is also a good source of omega 3 fatty acids as well as fibre.
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