Plant protein or animal protein: What is better?


Proteins are one of the most important nutrients in our body. They give structural as well as functional support. Proteins also help in building and repairing tissues. Moreover, they also form the building block for bones, blood, skin and muscles.

As it is such an important nutrient, it goes without saying that one is advised to have a diet rich in protein. However, the human body is incapable of storing protein on its own, therefore it is important to consume a reasonable amount of protein everyday. When protein is consumed, it breaks down into amino acids. There are 22 amino acids and the right balance of all of these are required for good health. These amino acids are further broken down into essential and non-essential amino acids. While our body can produce non-essential amino acids, there are 9 essential amino-acids that the human body does not produce. For acquiring these 9 essential amino acids, our body needs animal or plant proteins in our diet. Any food item that consists of these nine essential amino acids is considered to be a complete source of protein.

Difference between animal and plant protein

The difference between animal and plant proteins lies in the number of amino acids present in them. A few of the animals products are complete sources of protein providing all nine amino acids. These animal protein rich foods are fish, eggs, red meat and poultry products like chicken. On the other hand, all plant products lack in either one or the other required essential amino acid. This makes plant proteins less efficient in providing a complete protein nutrition. However, some argue that plant products like quinoa and buckwheat are complete sources of protein but the amount of some amino acids present in them are so less that the effect is rendered almost negligible.

Which one is better?

While animal protein provides a complete source of protein, they have also been linked with various negative health effects. Red meat is said to be a primary reasons for various heart diseases. While, plant-based products or vegetarian products, provide a wholesome amount of nutrients along with proteins. Studies have found the overall health of vegetarians to be better than that of non-vegetarians.

In conclusion

To sum up, for people who are non-vegetarian, it is advised not to consume excess of any single type of animal products. One should try and go for plant-based products for complete nutrition. Red meat should be consumed in limited quantities, even though it is rich in protein, there is still a high risk of cardiovascular diseases. Fish, dairy products, chicken should be consumed for a proper protein intake. For vegetarians, a good mix of plant based products like green vegetables, seeds, grains, quinoa, soya, rice etc. should be consumed for an overall development of the body. Irrespective of whether you are a vegetarian or non vegetarian, we suggest you to have a balanced diet, which suffices the requirements of all the essential nutrients for a healthy body.

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