Eating protein is essential for the body to function. These nutrients fulfill structural functions in the body, although the human body cannot synthesize them. That is why it is necessary to eat foods that contain sources of protein.
This article explains in the first instance what proteins are and what role amino acids play. In addition, the main foods richest in protein and amino acids are listed below.
What are Proteins?
Proteins serve many vital functions. The most important, due to its size, is to create new tissues, either because it needs to be regenerated or because it is of growing age.
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However, proteins fulfill multiple functions also at the metabolic level. In order not to have health problems, it is necessary to ingest this macronutrient daily, so it is important to know the foods richest in protein.
What are Amino Acids?
Amino acids are the building blocks that proteins are made of. There are 20 in total, but 8 of them are considered essential. This means that the human body cannot produce them but nevertheless needs them to create its own proteins. These are the following:
The highest protein foods contain all the essential amino acids. There are foods that, despite having very good concentrations of certain amino acids, do not guarantee that we can create protein. For example, cereals have many amino acids but are deficient in lysine.
This means that foods that have been excluded from this type of food from the list have been excluded. Below you can read a list with the foods richest in protein. Each and every one of them does not lack any amino acid considered essential.
Dairy products are sources of protein of high biological value. This is because casein, milk’s own protein, contains all the essential amino acids. Not only that, and the proportion in which it presents them is ideal for the human body. The suitability of eating dairy on a daily basis is debated, but what there is no doubt is its great contribution to protein.
Eggs, along with dairy products, have the best amino acid ratio. In this case, the natural protein of the egg is albumin. This protein also contains all the essential amino acids that the human body needs, being an excellent food. They’ve gotten a lot of bad press in recent decades, but you can eat eggs frequently without a problem.
Meat is perhaps the best-known protein source. Eating a piece of meat is popularly known to ensure a good dose of protein. Indeed, the combination of amino acids that this food provides makes it a suitable option for the needs of the human body. It does not matter if it is red or white meat; any type of meat provides protein (although there are meats leaner than others).
Fish is also a very rich protein food. In fact, you have to think that every animal represents a safe source of protein, beyond minor considerations. For example, white fish has a higher proportion of protein than bluefish, which is somewhat higher in fat (although both have equally many high-quality proteins).
Crustaceans cannot be missing from the list. They are also generally marine animals (there are exceptions), although taxonomically they are not fish despite the fact that they are sometimes grouped with them. In this way, eating prawns, prawns, crabs, barnacles, sea acorns or spider crabs is synonymous with eating protein.
Mollusks are another type of animal that has protein. There are different representatives of this group, such as cephalopods: cuttlefish, squid, octopus, etc. Other types of mollusks are mussels, clams, etc., without forgetting snails (both sea and land snails. Land snails are eaten in some regions of the world.
Pseudocereals are foods rich in protein. It is a type of food with nutritional value to that of cereals, but taxonomically they come from another family of plants.
However, the most relevant difference between the two food groups is that pseudo-cereals have very good concentrations of lysine, the limiting amino acid in cereals.
This means that you can make a meal that is based on quinoa, amaranth, or buckwheat without problems. There is no need to fear that you have not incorporated any of the above food groups into your meal.
Insects are consumed in some regions of the world, although in most western countries no one would want to taste them. The truth is that insects are also animals, so they contain all the essential amino acids.
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As strange as it may seem, it is said that in the future they will be incorporated into the diet, and it is that producing them is very cheap. Products such as flour made from insects are already being launched on the market.
There are not many other foods that have all the essential amino acids, but there are still some left. In some cases, these foods belong to groups where this is not common.
This is the case of chia seeds. These seeds have become very popular in recent years basically because they are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Other foods are single-celled algae such as chlorella or spirulina, as well as brewer’s yeast. They are foods that can be added in preparations for breakfast, snacks, or desserts.
Combination of foods
Finally, it is important to mention that by combining foods you can get protein. Although many foods do not contain all the essential amino acids, there are many that contain almost all of them.
This is the case of legumes, cereals, nuts, and seeds. Basically, you have to divide them into two groups: legumes and the rest. This is so because legumes are deficient in methionine, while the rest are deficient in lysine.
Fortunately, a dish like lentils with rice provides all the essential amino acids that are needed, thus being the same as eating food rich in protein.
Adapted and translated by The Cop Cart Staff