In case you’ve been living under a nutritional rock, you know you need protein. Why? Well, for starters your own body is composed of the stuff. Aside from water, the body is ideally composed of balance of protein and fat, with a small percentage of minerals and just one percent carbohydrate. While fat and carbohydrates are also essential macronutrients, protein is composed of amino acids which are essential for the structural, chemical, and hormonal processes in the human body. Our own bodies do not produce 9 of the over 20 essential amino acids, which must be obtained through protein in our diet.
What does protein do for you?
- Protein helps keep you feeling fuller longer. Because it takes longer for the body to process and synthesize protein than simple or even complex carbohydrates, a protein rich meal will leave you feeling satisfied. In fact, nutritionists recommend eating protein with your healthy carbohydrates, such as pasta, potatoes and whole grains, to slow down the absorption of sugar and mitigate food cravings.
- Protein builds muscle. Even if you’re not a weight lifter looking to bulk up, building muscle helps to increase resting metabolism, meaning that you burn more calories even when you aren’t exercising! As we age, we naturally lose muscle mass, the body needs more protein from diet as our metabolisms slow down.
- Plant protein can help lower blood pressure! Studies show that low fat and low cholesterol proteins, particularly plan- based proteins, actually help lower blood pressure and promote a healthy cardiovascular system. Making smart protein choices means staying full, building muscle, and keeping your heart and arteries healthy and clear! Yummy plant-based proteins include beans, lentils and protein-rich grains such as quinoa.
- Protein is a smart choice for a healthy brain. You may have heard that brain is mostly composed of fat, but did you know the hormones and enzymes that enable chemical functions in the brain are actually proteins. A protein-rich diet helps brain function, brain growth, concentration and memory. It’s essential that children get enough protein as their brains develop, and adult cognitive function is also optimized through a steady supply of protein throughout the day.
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