The nutrient protein is an extremely important part of our diet. Proteins are made up of amino acids and they exist throughout the body, in muscles, bones, skin and hair. They are beneficial for the growth and development and help to build, repair and maintain the body’s structures. Most importantly, it helps in building muscles, repairing tissues and promotes fullness. Broadly speaking there are two types of protein: animal based proteins and plant-based proteins. Foods derived from plants and animals can both provide protein, but there are some differences. In the following article let us explore some of the major differences between animal and plant protein. According to the Delhi based nutritionist, Pooja Malhotra “The building blocks of proteins are amino acids. There are 20 amino acids in all. While some amino acids can be synthesized by our bodies, some of them can’t be, we must obtain these from food, hence called essential amino acids.”
Plant and animal proteins differ according to their amino acid contents. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. When the body digests the proteins in food, it breaks them down into amino acids. Foods derived from plant are not the complete sources of protein, as they do not contain all nine essential amino acids. Most plant proteins are incomplete, which means that they do not contain one of the essential amino acids. For the growth and development of the body all the essential amino acids are needed. Even high protein plant sources like legumes, beans and nuts lack one or more essential amino acids. However, some plant-based foods, such as quinoa and buckwheat, are complete sources of protein. Therefore, it becomes important for vegetarians and vegans to mix their protein sources to ensure that they are getting all of the essential amino acids. But you need not worry as there are some plant-based proteins well which provide a lot of health benefits. These include nuts, legumes, buckwheat, quinoa, soya products and lentils.
She continues to say, “Plant proteins (lentils, beans, nuts) are incomplete, they lack one or more of the essential amino acids. This drawback can be overcome by combining the plant protein with some cereal/ grains. It has usually been found that amino acids lacking in pulses are present in grains and vice versa. So cereal-pulse combinations are found to have complete amino acid profile. Hence the humble khichadi is an excellent source of protein. Plant proteins too contain a number of other nutrients, besides the very important non-nutrient ‘fibre’. ”
Animal proteins have more nutritional content than plant protein. The best part about animal-based proteins is that they contain all the essential amino acids. For instance some milk products, fatty fish and poultry are excellent sources of Vitamin B 12, Vitamin D and essential omega 3 fatty acids. Some amazing sources of protein are eggs, poultry, fish, meat, chicken breast and dairy. Nutritionist further added, “Animal proteins (egg, fish, poultry, meats etc) are complete proteins, they contain all essential amino acids. They also are a good source of nutrients like Vit D, B12, heme iron, zinc etc. However, these are devoid of fibre. They also are abundant in cholesterol, which if now not considered to be a nutrient of concern. Red meats, especially the processed ones are considered to significantly increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Lean anima protein also helps to increase muscle mass and prevent muscle loss that happens with ageing.”
To conclude nutritionist says, “For meat-eaters, a flexitarian approach works best. So restrict yourself to lean meats 2-3 times a week, eggs can be consumed almost daily, make sure your veg meals have cereal-pulse combinations, also include beans and nuts to get adequate protein and also obtain the benefits of both.”
Protein-rich foods that help in weight loss:
(Pooja Malhotra is a nutritionist based in Delhi)
Skin Ageing Worrying You? Make These Food Swaps Now!
Do you know what foods to eat to reverse ageing? You may be surprised to know that it is no rocket science. For a younger-looking, clear and radiant skin, all you really need is a healthy diet with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and regular exercise. And while you may be following everything that is part of a healthy lifestyle, but still have fine lines or wrinkles on your skin. This may be because of a poor diet, chronic stress and use of beauty products with harmful chemicals.
Along with using the right kind of products for your skin, a couple of food swaps can take a long way in terms of preventing skin ageing and signs of ageing like wrinkles, fine lines, spots, dark circles etc.
Making a few nutrient-rich beauty food swaps can provide you with phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that promote and support the essential functions of skin. These foods can prevent and reverse effects of ageing on the skin.
Food swaps to prevent ageing
- Processed food with low GI foods
High glcyemic index (GI) or processed foods like white bread, cake, pasta and white rice can be swapped by low GI goods like whole foods like whole wheat, brown rice and sweet potatoes.
High GI goods can cause spike in blood sugar levels, which results in more insulin entering the blood stream, thus increasing inflammation. Inflammation causes oxidative stress in the body, which threaten production of collagen and DNA, and result in fine lines and wrinkles.
- Refined sugar with natural sweeteners
Refined sugar can again cause spike in blood sugar, thus interfering with skin’s collagen and elastin production. Replace them with natural sweeteners like jaggery, honey, coconut sugar and dates. Natural sweetness in fruits and vegetables can be beneficial for delaying skin ageing. Fruits like berries, apples and oranges are rich in Vitamin C, fibre and antioxidants that are great for the skin. Antioxidants in these fruits neutralise free radicals that result in premature ageing of the skin.
- Fried food for omega 3 fatty acids
Greasy fried foods can trigger acne breakouts. What’s more is that they can contribute to weight gain, type 2 diabetes and cause free radical damage that can cause premature ageing of the skin. Replace them with omega 3 fatty acids rich foods like walnuts, fatty fish, olive oil and coconut oil. Not only are omega 3 fatty acids great for heart health, they are good for retaining the glow on your skin.
- Coffee with green tea
Caffeine in coffee works as a diuretic which can dehydrate your skin and make it dry. It can also cause dullness on skin that can make you look way older than you are. Opt for detoxifying green tea for a fresh and younger looking skin. Green tea contains caffeine, but in very small amounts. This will give you the energy boost you need. Polyphenols in green tea can moisturise your skin, slow down the ageing process and also fight the damage caused by free radicals.
Light physical activity may lower CVD risk in women
While strolling or running are beneficial for heart health, light physical activity, such as gardening and folding clothes, may also lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) in older women, say researchers.
The study showed that such activities might be enough to significantly reduce stroke or heart failure by up to 22 per cent and the risk of heart attack or coronary death by as much as 42 per cent.
The association was strong across all racial and ethnic groups, noted the study published in the journal JAMA Network Open.
“The higher the amount of activity, the lower the risk,” said co-author Andrea LaCroix, Researcher at the University of California, San Diego.
“And the risk reduction showed regardless of the women’s overall health status, functional ability or even age. In other words, the association with light physical activity was apparent regardless of these other factors,” LaCroix added.
For the study, researchers studied nearly 6,000 women aged 63 to 97. They were made to wear a device which measured their movement 24 hours a day for seven consecutive days.
The device was also calibrated by age to distinguish between light, and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity.
Most people do not think of folding clothes or walking to the mailbox as physical activity of any kind, the researchers said.
“This study suggests that for older women, any and all movement counts towards better cardiovascular health,” said David Goff, Director at National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) in the US.
These Two Foods Should Definitely Be In Your Diet If You Are On A Weight Loss Program
When it comes to weight loss, we all know that healthy eating is extremely important. However, when we talk of healthy eating, there may be some peculiarities which need to be followed. This includes keeping an eye on how much protein, fats, carbs and fibre you should be eating. Time and again, it has been said that increasing the intake of proteins and cutting down on intake of carbs and fats can help you lose weight but not health. This is primarily because protein helps you keep full for longer and reduces your appetite. There are many protein-rich foods which can be included in your like whole eggs, chicken, legumes, dairy products, healthy nuts, whole grains and fish. Apart from these common protein-rich foods there are two protein-rich foods which can help in weight loss. In the following article, we will talk about these common foods rich in proteins and extremely healthy.
Chickpeas for weight loss
Chickpeas are extremely delicious in taste. Even better they are rich in protein and fiber, both the nutrients which are essential for weight loss. Fibre keeps you fuller for longer and protein helps in controlling your hunger pangs. The fiber content in chickpeas is also good for your digestive system. Chickpeas are high in fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin B-6 content which is beneficial for maintain the heart health. The good amounts of fiber in chickpeas helps lower the cholesterol levels and thus decreases the risk of heart diseases. Also, chickpeas contain some other nutrients like folic acid, manganese, iron, copper, magnesium, and molybdenum. You can mix chickpeas with rice or whole grains to get the wholesome amount of proteins in your diet. You can also make a chickpea salad with eggs or some cubes of cottage cheese and tofu.
Sweet potatoes for weight loss
Sweet potatoes are extremely nutritious and offer several health benefits. But there is a possibility that you might not know that sweet potatoes can help you to lose weight. The high amount of dietary fiber, the low calorie content all work together to make sweet potatoes a great food if you are on a weight loss program. The reason why sweet potatoes help you lose weight is due to their high amount of dietary fiber. Fiber in sweet potatoes promotes fullness for a long period of time, thereby preventing overeating in the next meal. Also, fiber takes time to digest. Foods high in fiber take time to leave your stomach and enter your digestive tract. This prevents you from overeating and thereby reducing the chances of high calorie intake which further leads to weight gain. You can have sweet potatoes in your salads or simply bake them and roast them.