Types of Protein
Do you know there are two types of protein which is complete and incomplete protein? I believe you know or being told that we need protein for energy, build muscle and fill our stomachs. So, what role does protein play in our diets?
Protein is one of the main food groups that should make up at least 35% of our daily food intake. It’s not only for someone into bodybuilding but also to help our body rebuild itself as it provides necessary building blocks for cells.
Complete proteins contain 9 essential amino acids that our body needs to build new proteins. Whereby the essential amino acids are ones the body can’t produce on its own. Protein that comes from animal sources tends to be complete.
An incomplete protein is that the protein sources lack one or more of the essential amino acids. Examples of incomplete protein are vegetables, fruits, grains, and nuts.
Because our body doesn’t store amino acids, fat or even carbohydrates, it needs a fresh supply of them every day to make new proteins. Complete and incomplete proteins play an equally important role in this process. The best way to get all the protein you need is to pick from wide and varied sources.
These proteins are incomplete on their own, but in combination they work together to provide the essential amino acids you need. Common example including rice and beans, peanut butter with whole grain bread and roti canai with dhal curry (Malaysia Indian-influenced flatbread dish)
Why do we need protein?
- Proteins are essential to life. Because it is an important component of your skin, hair, fingernails, bones, blood and cartilage – in fact, it literally holds us together.
- Your body also uses it to produce important body proteins like enzymes and hormones. Enzymes speed up certain chemical processes – like digestive enzymes that help break down our food and release energy into your system. Hormones act as ‘cellular messengers’ and help to coordinate all kinds of activities in the body – like insulin, a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar in our body.
- Our immune system needs protein to make antibodies – specialized proteins that help the body defend against foreign invaders.
- The body also makes transport proteins that move things around – like hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to all the cells of our body, or specialized proteins that carry vitamins and minerals to the cells that need them.
Here’s are some common high-protein foods you can find in Asian cuisine:
Pumpkin Seeds (19g protein/100g)
Pumpkin seeds are a healthy mid-day snack alternative and can be found in most convenience stores as a pre-packaged snack, and yes, they are high in protein! Opt for unflavoured, unsalted versions, which you can throw into your salad for an extra crunch.
Edamame beans (11g protein/100g)
These beans are commonly consumed by the Japanese. They are young soybeans that are harvested before they have ripened or hardened. It is usually steamed or boiled and seasoned with a pinch of salt for slight flavour and served as finger food. You can get them at most Japanese restaurants in Malaysia. Do note that people who are allergic to soy products may not be able to consume Edamame beans.
Chickpeas (19g protein/100g)
Chickpeas are packed with proteins! Each cup provides 12g of protein, making it a great source of protein for people who consume little to no meat in their diets. They are also rich in nutrients that are vital for your bodies like fiber and minerals such as manganese, magnesium, zinc, and copper.
You can find chickpeas sold as snacks in roadside stalls, or in chana masala – an accompaniment to chapatti meals. It’s also the main ingredient of hummus, an increasingly popular dip.
Tempeh (19g protein/100g)
Originating from South East Asia, tempeh is a traditional soy product. It is made through a natural culturing and controlled the fermentation process. The fermentation process and its retention of the whole bean give it a higher content of protein, dietary fibre and vitamins. Its flavour becomes more pronounced as it ages. Most Indonesian and Malay food joints would serve Tempeh. It is usually served with local sambal for the best flavour.
Kidney beans (24g protein/100g)
Red kidney beans should not be confused with other red beans (such as Adzuki beans). It is named for its visual resemblance in shape and color to a kidney. These beans are miracle workers! They are high in protein and are perfect to be eaten with grains, nuts, seeds, and dairy products.
Salmon sashimi (22g protein/100g)
Salmon sashimi, one of the cornerstones of Japanese cuisine is an excellent source of protein. Every slice of salmon sashimi comes with a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids (a type of essential fatty acid. Omega-3 is known to reduce risk of heart disease, stroke as well as symptoms of hypertension). Head over to your nearest Japanese restaurant for a good dose of salmon sashimi.
Tofu (8g protein/100g)
Tofu or bean curd is a popular food cultivated from soybeans. Besides the high protein content, just 50g of soy protein daily can help lower cholesterol by about 3%. It is an excellent source of amino acids, iron, calcium, and other micro-nutrients. Eating soy protein instead of other sources of higher-fat protein enables you to maintain a healthy diet. Try steaming tofu with fish for a protein on protein meal.
Protein is important for the operation of our body functions, whether to provide the essential amino acids or helping to build strong muscles. Make it a mission to incorporate sufficient protein into your daily food intake.
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