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The Powers of PROTEIN-Part II – April 2004

This newsletter will continue to reiterate the powers of protein, but focus a bit more upon protein sources and vegetarianism.

Vegetarians and vegans put oneself at risk to develop protein deficiencies if the essential rules of COMPLETE or COMPLEMENTARY PROTEINS are not followed. Don't forget those beans, nuts and seeds as they are OH SO important in many many so many many ways!!!

Animal foods are considered the most complete proteins to eat, because they contain ample quantities of all eight essential amino acids (isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, valine).
Plant foods contain proteins as well, but most are considered "incomplete proteins." Most plant proteins have one or two amino acids of the eight essential amino acids that are "limiting" or not ample in quantity for the human body.

If you try to depend upon plant proteins alone without complete protein making, your body will not obtain a high enough quantity of the eight essential amino acids. Long-term effects of this are not bright (refer to part I), and hence the term "incomplete".
Therefore, making complete or complementary proteins by combining plant protein sources is essential for vegetarians to do on a daily basis in order to obtain proper protein levels! It is encouraged that anyone choosing veganism or
vegetarianism does so properly by having a good knowledge of complementary protein making (in addition to other vital nutrients).

Here's a guideline regarding complementary or complete protein making:
Legumes are low or limiting in the amino acids methionine and tryptophan, but provide ample amounts of isoleucine and lysine.
Grains (e.g. rice, millet, wheat, corn), nuts & seeds are higher in methionine and tryptophan, but tend to be low in isoleucine and lysine.
(Do you see a pattern emerging)??
Vegetables are variable, but most are low in methionine and isoleucine.
This is to say, combine foods to be eaten together such as:
Grains + legumes
Seeds or nuts + legumes (e.g. tahini (sesame seed butter) + chick peas (i.e. hummus))
Grains or vegetables + dairy or eggs (Adding an already complete protein makes the incomplete protein food complete).

Debate exists as to whether complete protein is gained by eating, for example, a grain at one time of day and legumes later. One theory says if eaten separately, the overall value of all the amino acids contained within the food
decreases to the value of the lowest or limiting amino acids (i.e. limiting aminos level as in diagram). Hence, best to take the safe route and eat them together! Besides...they taste so good together!

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of complete protein for adults is .8 grams to 1kg body weight. (The RDA values are based upon the minimum requirements to prevent deficiencies). A rough guideline for adults is 50grams for females and 60grams for males of protein daily. Pregnant women require an extra 30 grams and lactating women 20. (Think of all the new bones, muscle & organs growing)!
Infants require 2.2 grams per kg of body weight (compared to .8 of the adult); age 6 mos-1 year2 grams per kg; age 1-323grams total; age 4-630gr., age 7-1034gr., males age 11-1445gr., females age 11+adult values.

Here are some comparisons of protein valuesnuts--
peanuts (1/4 c.)-9 g, almonds (1/4 c.)-9g, pine nuts (10g)-10g seeds (1/4 c.)--pumpkin-10g, sunflower-8g, sesame-10g legumes (1c, cooked)--soybean 20 g, aduki 18g, black beans 16g, tofu (100g)-8g grains (1c. cooked)--brown rice-5g, millet-8g, wild rice-7g, quinoa~15g animal sources-egg-6g, yoghurt & milk (1 c.)- 8g, feta cheese (28g)-4g, 100g red meat-22g, 100g chicken-20g, 100g fish-18g

Do not be confused when looking at protein values of plant foods. One may think, "I'm getting plenty of protein from my diet of pasta, vege and rice!" AHA...this is not so...please remember that certain amino acids of plant proteins are limited or lower than the essential amount required by the body. The above plant protein values do not represent complete protein values (i.e. the eight essential amino acids) that the body requires.

Another tricky point to understand regarding complementary proteins is the addition of the protein grams. As an example -you do not receive 25 grams of protein by eating 1 cup of brown rice (5g) and 1 cup of soybeans (20g).
Remember you are maximising the amino acid values by complementing the protein as in the diagram. Therefore you're obtaining up to 20grams of protein in this example, not 25.
Nuts and seeds are the most valuable plant protein food when it comes to quality, and therefore should be an essential daily component of the vegetarian and, especially, vegan diet. (Not to mention that they are incredible sources of multiple vitamins and minerals)! This is because in the initial life of a plant, it depends upon the nutrients contained within the nut or seed until roots develop when it can then obtain nutrients from the soil. It is true, pinenuts are the most valuable nut in terms of protein (and expense, but a few little nuts goes a LONG way).
The grain quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is the only grain with a high enough quantity of the essential amino acids making it considered a complete protein on its own, as is the legume soy.
The grains amaranth and millet are nearly complete.

This newsletter provides only good basics. A few more newsletters are required to completely cover this topic and extra hints to add more protein to the vegetarian diet. So we must send you to the library (especially if you are new to this or never truly learnt how to be a good veggie). Be smart about it and do the homework. It's worth it and so are you! Sorry, no space for recipes today.

So DON'T BE LAZY ABOUT MAKING LEGUMES! Always have a few spare tins in the cupboard (it's not worth being cheap). Boil extras and freeze them to have for those days there isn't time. And no matter what your meal, throw in a few nuts or seeds-you'll do yourself a huge favour! Remember those amino acids are essential to the powers of your body in many many many oh so many many many many many many many so many many many ways!!!!!!!

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