Lets Talk About... Protein
‘Virtually no one in the UK is eating too little protein...’ Tom Sanders, King’s College London ✨
A vital macronutrient, protein is required by the body to provide the amino acids essential for good health, tissue growth and repair. Abundant in the modern diet, most of us are getting more than enough from our food... So what are the important points to remember when it comes to dietary protein:
Proteins are vital to support normal structure & function of body cells. The building blocks of proteins are amino acids, these can be broken down into 3 groups: Essential, Nonessential & Conditional
Essential amino acids cannot be made by the body and have to provided in the diet. Nonessential amino acids are produced by the body even if we do not obtain them from food. Conditional amino acids are not usually essential but can become so in times of illness and stress .
Dietary protein can be found in both animal and plant foods. Animal sources of protein contain all the amino acids and are therefore deemed high biological value. Plant proteins can complement one another in their amino acid profiles combining them increases their biological value and provides adequate amounts of essential amino acids.
It is important to note that you can obtain the full complement of amino acids over the course of a day, rather than having to optimise each individual meal.
Protein requirement varies according to age, stage & health. Adults and children should consume 2-3 servings of protein every day. A typical serving would equate to 100g lean meat, 140g fish, 2 eggs, or 3 tbsp pulses, nuts or seeds.
To optimise health it is important to choose good quality dietary sources of protein in the context of a colourful, varied and balanced diet. Animal sources can be high in fat so select lean cuts of meat and low fat dairy products to reduce associated fat intake. Combine grains & pulses in meat free meals for a complementary effect nuts, beans, seeds and soya are other good sources of plant based protein.