Better alternative sources of protein; why you don’t need so much of it
Before the month of July, designated as National Nutrition Month, ends, Inquirer Science/Health shares with readers how to get healthier sources of protein. As awareness about the risks of excessive saturated fat and cholesterol in animal products such as meat and dairy heightens, more Filipinos have thus resorted to finding their needed proteins from plant sources.
The US-based Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has observed that some diet books have been encouraging a high-protein intake for weight loss, but that people tend to take in twice the amount of protein they need.
“While individuals following such a diet have sometimes had short-term success in losing weight, they are often unaware of the health risks associated with a high-protein diet. Excess protein has been linked with osteoporosis, kidney disease, calcium stones in the urinary tract, and some cancers,” PCRM stressed. Harvard researchers reported that high-protein diets were associated with a significant decline in kidney function, based on observations in 1,624 women participating in the Nurses’ Health Study.
“The Recommended Dietary Allowance for protein for the average adult is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight (according to the Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids (Macronutrients) (2002); Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine). To find out your average individual need, simply perform the following calculation: Body weight (in pounds) x 0.36 = recommended protein intake (in grams).
So, what are the healthier sources of protein?
A meal of rice and beans provides a complete protein fix, no different from the protein found in eggs or meat. Dean Ornish, MD, author of “Program for Reversing Heart Disease,” recommends: ”Just eat any grains and any legumes sometime during the same day. The ideal proportion is two-thirds grains and one-third legumes, but this is not critically important. As long as you consume enough non-sugar calories to maintain your ideal body weight, then you will likely be eating enough protein. Here are some examples of a complete protein (diet): Rice and beans, tacos with beans, tofu with rice, Pasta e fagioli (pasta and beans), [hoppin’] John (black-eyed peas) and rice, Boston baked beans and brown bread.”
PCRM has also published this chart of healthful protein sources (in grams):
Black beans, boiled (1 cup) 15.2
Broccoli (1 cup) 4.6
Bulgur, cooked (1 cup) 5.6
Chickpeas, boiled (1 cup) 14.5
Lentils, boiled (1 cup) 17.9
Peanut butter (2 tablespoons) 8.0
Quinoa, cooked (1 cup) 11.0
Seitan* (4 ounces) 24.0
Spinach, boiled (1 cup) 5.4
Tempeh (1/2 cup) 15.7
Tofu, firm (1/2 cup) 19.9
Whole-wheat bread (one slice) 2.7
*A plant-based product made from wheat gluten; protein value from manufacturer’s information
Source: J.A.T. Pennington, Bowes and Church’s Food Values of Portions Commonly
Used, 17th ed. (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1998).
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