How many times have you heard that only with vegetable proteins we cannot have a balanced diet? “That there is going to be a lack of protein in the diet”.
Far from reality, there’s an explanation to this misbelief and we’re going to discuss it right now.
What is an amino acid? 🧱
Proteins are macromolecules made up of amino acids. But, what is an amino acid?
Imagine a pearl necklace. Well, each pearl is an amino acid and the necklace would be the protein, and we can have necklaces with different colored and sized pearls. Depending on how proteins are formed they will have one function or another.
Their main functions are:
- Act as a transporter
- Contractile function
- Immune function
- Hormonal function and many others
To lead a diet without any nutritional deficiencies, we must consume all the essential amino acids; and we can only obtain them through the food in our diet, since our body is not capable of synthezising them.
These essential amino acids are: leucine, isoleucine, lysine, valine, phenylalanine, methionine, threonine and tryptophan.
And when we talk about food having “complete proteins” we mean to say that they have all the essential amino acids in sufficient quantity.
So, what’s the “problem” with plant protein? 🧐
It is often said that we cannot obtain all amino acids through plant foods because they do not contain “complete proteins”, but this is not entirely correct. Some vegetables have “complete proteins” and others are deficient in quantity, but by making the correct combinations we can obtain all the amino acids.
Vegetable foods that have a good amount of protein are:
- Soy derivatives, such as tofu
You can combine them with nuts and whole grains. You can also add quinoa, amaranth and hemp seeds, for instance.
It is NOT necessary to consume legumes, cereals or nuts in the same meal; it should be more than enough to consume them throughout the day in sufficient quantities to obtain this “complete protein”.
So, following a vegetarian diet does not create protein deficiencies, if you include these foods. And, if you are not a vegetarian/vegan, vegetable proteins are also a great contribution without having to eat meat on a daily basis. 🙂