Why is it important to consume proteins?

August 05, 2020

Why is it important to consume proteins?

Proteins play a vital role in our organism. They contribute to the renovation of muscular tissue, skin, bone tissue, hair and nails. They also strengthen our immune system and help us to defend ourselves against diseases. 

 

Amino acids: the proteins’ main component

Proteins are formed by amino acid chains. There are 20 different amino acids:

  • 12 are synthesized by our body from carbohydrates (sugars) and lipids (fats) present in our body or our food.
  • 8 are called “essential” (8 in adults, 9 in children), because our body itself does produce them and they can be acquired via food only.

Essential and non-essential amino acids are equally important for our body and we need a balance in the quantities of each in our daily diet. This quantity varies for each person, age and physical activity being factors of influence when calculating the quantity required.

 

Where do we find proteins?

Proteins come from two sources:

Animal origin: meat, fish, seafood, eggs, milk and dairy products. These foods contain proteins with a nigh number of essential amino acids.  

Vegetal origin: wholegrains such as quinoa and amaranth, legumes (lentils, garbanzos, red beans, etc.), sub-products based on legumes such as tofu and oleaginous seeds like chia seeds, walnuts and almonds. SOW chia seeds contain all essential amino acids your body needs. 

 

We should ideally consume at least 50% of proteins of vegetal origin

As compared to foods of animal origin, one of the advantages offered by foods of vegetal origin is that they do not supply cholesterol and, moreover, are rich in fibers. Red meat, however, is rich in saturated fat and Omega-6, which are essential fats we consume in excess and which increase the risk of chronic diseases. 

In 2015 the WHO classified red meat and processed meat (such as ham and sausages) as “probably carcinogenic to humans” and recommended to reduce its consumption to maximum once a week.

 

How can vegetarians eat in a balanced way?

The most important international health and nutrition institutions have backed up vegetarian and vegan diets. Studies have also shown that vegetarians are less likely to suffer from heart diseases, obesity and other diseases.

Vegetarian diets, and especially vegan diets many lack some nutrients which are mainly present in animal-based food. However, some vegetal foods may contain these, and they have to be consumed routinely if you follow any of these diets:

Proteins.These can be easily satisfied by consuming various plant-based foods. Protein sources for vegans include legumes (lentils, garbanzos, beans), nuts and SOW chia seed, vegetal proteins in powder such as SOW chia protein, pea proteins and products based on legumes (tofu, tempeh).

Omega-3 fatty acids. These are fatty acids essential for brain and vision development, cardiovascular health and the immune system. They are mainly present in fat fish such as salmon. In vegetarian and vegan diets these fatty acids can be found in SOW chia seeds and oil (63%) or linseed (54%), canola oil (10%) and seaweed (30%).

Vitamin B12. Vegetarian diets (which include eggs and/or dairy products) do not lack vitamin B12. Vegan diets, however, need to include food enriched with this vitamin (cereals, vegetal drinks, packed juice, etc) or nutritional yeast.

Calcium. In vegan and vegetarian diets sources of calcium are vegetal “milk” such as SOW chia drink or almond drink, enriched tofu, peanut butter, sesame, chia seeds and legumes rich in calcium such as soya and dried figs.

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