Food With Rich Protein

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Protein is an essential nutrient that your body needs to function properly. But it’s not always easy to get enough in your diet, especially if you’re trying to avoid animal products.

That’s why we created [product name], a delicious and nutritious alternative to traditional sources of protein like meat, eggs, and dairy. [Product name] contains no animal products and is made from 100% plant-based ingredients. It’s also soy-free and gluten-free!

Food With Rich Protein

Protein foods

  • lean meats – beef, lamb, veal, pork, kangaroo.
  • poultry – chicken, turkey, duck, emu, goose, bush birds.
  • fish and seafood – fish, prawns, crab, lobster, mussels, oysters, scallops, clams.
  • eggs.
  • dairy products – milk, yoghurt (especially Greek yoghurt), cheese (especially cottage cheese)
protein

What is protein?

Protein is a nutrient your body needs to grow and repair cells, and to work properly. 

Protein is found in a wide range of food and it’s important that you get enough protein in your diet every day. How much protein you need from your diet varies depending on your weight, gender, age and health. 

Meeting your protein needs is easily achieved from eating a variety of foods. Protein from food comes from plant and animal sources such as:

  • meat and fish
  • eggs
  • dairy products
  • seeds and nuts
  • legumes like beans and lentils. 

Proteins are made of amino acids

Proteins are made up of building blocks called amino acids. There are about 20 different amino acids that link together in different combinations. Your body uses them to make new proteins, such as muscle and bone, and other compounds such as enzymes and hormones. It can also use them as an energy source. 

Some amino acids can be made by your body – there are 11 of these and they’re known as non-essential amino acids. There are 9 amino acids that your body cannot make, and they are known as essential amino acids. You need to include enough of these in your diet so that your body can function.

Nutritional value of protein

The nutritional value of a protein is measured by the quantity of essential amino acids it contains.

Different foods contain different amounts of essential amino acids. Generally:

  • Animal products (such as chicken, beef or fish and dairy products) have all of the essential amino acids and are known as ‘complete’ protein (or ideal or high-quality protein).
  • Soy products, quinoa and the seed of a leafy green called amaranth (consumed in Asia and the Mediterranean) also have all of the essential amino acids.
  • Plant proteins (beans, lentils, nuts and whole grains) usually lack at least one of the essential amino acids and are considered ‘incomplete’ proteins.

People following a strict vegetarian or vegan diet need to choose a variety of protein sources from a combination of plant foods every day to make sure they get an adequate mix of essential amino acids. 

If you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, as long as you eat a wide variety of foods, you can usually get the protein you need. For example, a meal containing cereals and legumes, such as baked beans on toast, provides all the essential amino acids found in a typical meat dish.

Protein foods

Some food sources of dietary protein include:

  • lean meats – beef, lamb, veal, pork, kangaroo
  • poultry – chicken, turkey, duck, emu, goose, bush birds
  • fish and seafood – fish, prawns, crab, lobster, mussels, oysters, scallops, clams
  • eggs
  • dairy products – milk, yoghurt (especially Greek yoghurt), cheese (especially cottage cheese)
  • nuts (including nut pastes) and seeds – almonds, pine nuts, walnuts, macadamias, hazelnuts, cashews, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds
  • legumes and beans – all beans, lentils, chickpeas, split peas, tofu.

Some grain and cereal-based products are also sources of protein, but are generally not as high in protein as meat and meat-alternative products. 

How to get your protein needs

Your daily protein needs can easily be met by following the Australian Dietary Guidelines. The Guidelines group foods into 5 different food groups, each of which provide key nutrients.

The 2 main food groups that contribute to protein are the:

  • ‘lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans’ group
  • ‘milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives (mostly reduced fat)’ group. 

As part of a healthy diet, the Guidelines recommend particular serves per day from each of the 5 food groups. 

The human body can’t store protein and will excrete any excess, so the most effective way of meeting your daily protein requirement is to eat small amounts at every meal.

Daily recommended serves of ‘lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans’ and ‘milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives (mostly reduced fat)’ for adults

PersonRecommended average daily number of serves of lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds, and legumes/beansRecommended average daily number of serves of milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives (mostly reduced fat)
Men aged 19–50 years32 1/2
Men aged 51–70 years2 1/22 1/2
Men aged 70+ years2 1/23 1/2
Women aged 19–50 years 2 1/22 1/2
Women aged 51–70 years24
Women aged 70+ years  24
Pregnant women 3 1/22 1/2 
Lactating women2 1/2 2 1/2 

So, what is a serve? A standard serving size of ‘lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds, and legumes/beans’ is one of:

  • 65 g cooked lean meats such as beef, lamb, veal, pork, goat or kangaroo (about 90 to 100 g raw)
  • 80 g cooked lean poultry such as chicken or turkey (100 g raw)
  • 100 g cooked fish fillet (about 115 g raw weight) or one small can of fish
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup (150 g) cooked dried beans, lentils, chickpeas, split peas or canned beans (preferably with no added salt)
  • 170 g tofu
  • 30 g nuts, seeds, peanut or almond butter or tahini or other nut or seed paste (no added salt).

A serve of ‘milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives (mostly reduced fat)’ could include:

  • 250 ml (1 cup) fresh, UHT long life, reconstituted powdered milk or buttermilk
  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) evaporated milk
  • 200 g (3/4 cup or 1 small carton) yoghurt
  • 40 g (2 slices) hard cheese such as cheddar
  • 120 g (1/2 cup) ricotta cheese.

Protein requirements for children and teenagers change as they grow. Read about the recommended number of serves for children, adolescents and toddlers for all 5 food groups.

Getting more protein into your day, naturally

If you’re looking for ways to get more protein into your diet, here are some suggestions:

  • Try a peanut butter sandwich. Remember to use natural peanut butter (or any other nut paste) with no added salt, sugar or other fillers.
  • Low-fat cottage or ricotta cheese is high in protein and can go in your scrambled eggs, casserole, mashed potato or pasta dish. Or spread it on your toast in the morning.
  • Nuts and seeds are fantastic in salads, with vegetables and served on top of curries. Try toasting some pine nuts or flaked almonds and putting them in your green salad. 
  • Beans are great in soups, casseroles, and pasta sauces. Try tipping a drained can of cannellini beans into your favourite vegetable soup recipe or casserole.
  • A plate of hummus and freshly cut vegetable sticks as a snack or hummus spread on your sandwich will give you easy extra protein at lunchtime. 
  • Greek yoghurt is a protein rich food that you can use throughout the day. Add some on your favourite breakfast cereal, put a spoonful on top of a bowl of pumpkin soup or serve it as dessert with some fresh fruit.
  • Eggs are a versatile and easy option that can be enjoyed on their own or mixed in a variety of dishes.

Getting too little protein (protein deficiency)

Protein deficiency means not getting enough protein in your diet. Protein deficiency is rare in Australia, as the Australian diet generally includes far more protein than we actually need. However, protein deficiency may occur in people with special requirements, such as older people and people following strict vegetarian or vegan diets.

Symptoms of protein deficiency include:

  • wasting and shrinkage of muscle tissue
  • oedema (build-up of fluids, particularly in the feet and ankles)
  • anaemia (the blood’s inability to deliver sufficient oxygen to the cells, usually caused by dietary deficiencies such as lack of iron)
  • slow growth (in children).

Protein – maintaining muscle mass as you age

From around 50 years of age, humans begin to gradually lose skeletal muscle. This is known as sarcopenia and is common in older people. Loss of muscle mass is worsened by chronic illness, poor diet and inactivity.

Meeting the daily recommended protein intake may help you maintain muscle mass and strength. This is important for maintaining your ability to walk and reducing your risk of injury from falls. 

To maintain muscle mass, it’s important for older people to eat protein ‘effectively’. This means consuming high-quality protein foods, such as lean meats.

Protein shakes, powders and supplements

Protein shakes, powders and supplements are unnecessary for most Australians’ health needs. According to the most recent national nutrition survey, 99% of Australians get enough protein through the food they eat.

Any protein you eat on top of what your body needs will either be excreted from your body as waste, or stored as weight gain.

The best way for you to get the protein you need is to eat a wide variety of protein-rich foods as outlined in the Australian Dietary Guidelines, as part of a balanced diet. But if you are still interested in using protein shakes, powders and supplements, talk to your doctor. 

Protein and exercise

Soon after exercising, it’s recommended that you have a serve of high-quality protein (such as a glass of milk or tub of yoghurt) with a carbohydrate meal to help maintain your body’s protein balance. Studies have shown this is good for you, even after low to moderate aerobic exercise (such as walking), particularly for older adults.

People who exercise vigorously or are trying to put on muscle mass do not need to consume extra protein. High-protein diets do not lead to increased muscle mass. It’s the stimulation of muscle tissue through exercise, not extra dietary protein, which leads to muscle growth.

Studies show that weight-trainers who do not eat extra protein (either in food or protein powders) still gain muscle at the same rate as weight-trainers who supplement their diets with protein.

Very high protein diets are dangerous

Some fad diets promote very high protein intakes of between 200 and 400 g per day. This is more than 5 times the amount recommended in the Australian Dietary Guidelines. 

The protein recommendations in the Guidelines provide enough protein to build and repair muscles, even for body builders and athletes. 

A very high-protein diet can strain the kidneys and liver. It can also prompt excessive loss of the mineral calcium, which can increase your risk of osteoporosis.

protein examples

Proteins are the basic component of living cells. They are made of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and one or more chains of amino acids. The three structures of proteins are fibrous, globular and membrane, which can also be broken down by each protein’s function. Keep reading for examples of proteins in each category and in which foods you can find them.

high protein foods

Fibrous Proteins

Also called scleroproteins, fibrous proteins form muscle fiber, tendons, connective tissue and bone. They have an elongated shape and play many structural roles in the body. The main types of fibrous proteins include structural proteins and storage proteins.

Structural Proteins

These can be found in the fibers of both smooth muscles and skeletal muscles, as well as in cardiac muscle around the heart. Collagen, for example, is the most abundant protein in human and animal bodies. Some structural proteins also have contractile functions, which aid in the movement of muscles.

diagram collagen in human skin

Examples of the proteins in this category include:

  • actin – found in muscle cells and used during cellular processes
  • collagen – found in connective tissue and cartilage throughout the body
  • dystrophin – links actin to other proteins in muscle fibers
  • elastin – makes tissues and organs elastic
  • fibrin – works with platelets to clot blood
  • keratin – protein found in human hair, skin and nails, as well as animal hooves, wool, horns, claws, and feathers
  • myosin – found in muscle cells; involved with contracting movements
  • nebulin – large protein found in muscle filament
  • pikachurin – binds different proteins in the retina of the eye
  • titin – large protein that aids in contractions
  • tropomyosin – found throughout the body and used for movement
  • tubulin – present in the cytoskeletal structure of a cell

Storage Proteins

Some fibrous proteins store amino acids and metal ions for later use. Both plants and animals alike have storage proteins in their cells, though many are distinctive to various organisms.

Examples of storage proteins are:

  • casein – stores amino acids in animal and human milk
  • ferritin – stores iron in plants and animals
  • gliadin – storage protein in wheat; component of gluten
  • kafirin – found in sorghum and millet
  • oryzin – found in rice
  • ovalbumin – stores amino acids in egg whites
  • zein – found in corn

Globular Proteins

The other main protein structure is globular. Globular proteins are spherical and more water soluble than the other classes of proteins. They have several functions including transporting, catalyzing and regulating within the body. Antibodiesenzymestransport proteins, and many kinds of hormones are examples of globular proteins.

Antibody Proteins

Antibodies, which are called immunoglobulins, are proteins created by your immune system to fight off harmful invaders. There are five main types of antibodies; however, their binding site is made to fight a specific pathogen, including viruses and bacteria.

Examples of antibody proteins include:

  • Immunoglobin A (IgA) – found in saliva and tears from mucosal tissues
  • Immunoglobin D (IgD) – low-quantity protein that signals the immune system to work
  • Immunoglobin E (IgE) – begins an allergic reaction when exposed to an allergen
  • Immunoglobin G (IgG) – high-quantity protein that tags pathogens and releases toxins to destroy them
  • Immunoglobin M (IgM) – triggers the pathogen “memory” in your immune system

Enzyme Proteins

Proteins that carry out biochemical reactions are called enzymes. They are a type of biological catalyst that keeps the body going. Other enzymes, called inhibitors, slow down reactions.

Some protein examples that carry out enzymatic functions include:

  • c1-inhibitor – anti-inflammatory protein
  • carboxypeptidase – created in the pancreas for digestive aid
  • hydrolase enzymes – catalyze hydrolysis in chemical bonds
  • helicase – unzips DNA for decoding
  • lactase – breaks down lactose from dairy products
  • lipase – breaks down fats in the pancreas
  • maltase – found in the saliva; breaks down sugars into glucose
  • oxidoreductases – catalyze the transfer of electrons between molecules
  • thrombin – converts proteins in the blood to clot blood
  • trypsin – breaks down proteins during digestion

Messenger Proteins

Proteins that send messages throughout the body are known as messenger proteins. These proteins include different types of hormones, which can transmit signals to coordinate processes between parts of the body. They’re different from steroid hormones, which come from lipids, not proteins.

Some examples of messenger proteins include:

  • angiotensin – maintains blood pressure
  • antidiuretic hormone (ADH) – carries messages to the kidneys to balance water levels in the blood
  • epinephrine – controls respiration and other involuntary functions
  • follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) – controls the stimulation of eggs and sperm in female and male reproductive system
  • insulin – regulates glucose levels in the blood
  • norepinephrine – controls the body’s response to stress
  • oxytocin – regulates emotions related to the reproductive system
  • somatotropin – hormone that controls growth rates in the body
  • tryptophan – regulates the sleep-wake cycle in the body

Transport Proteins

When atoms need to be taken across a cell membrane, a transport membrane can do it. These types of proteins, also known as escort proteins, aid in cellular transport.

They include:

  • albumin – transports hormones and vitamins in the bloodstream
  • alpha globulin – found in blood plasma
  • beta globulin – functions as a transport and an enzyme
  • hemoglobin – carries oxygen from the lungs to body tissue
  • hemopexin – transports heme in blood plasma
  • myoglobin – transports and stores oxygen from hemoglobin
  • transferrin – delivers iron to different organs in the body

Membrane Proteins

Membrane proteins are found within the membranes of cells. They aid with many cellular functions, including transporting substances across the membrane and adhering cells to other structures.

diagram glucose transporter
(CC BY-ND 4.0)

Membrane protein examples include:

  • Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator (CFTR) – regulates sodium levels in the lungs
  • estrogen receptor – activated by the hormone estrogen
  • Forkhead Box P2 (FOXP2) – found in the major organs, including brain and heart
  • Forkhead Box P3 (FOXP3) – regulates T cell activation
  • glucose transporter – carries glucose across the membrane
  • histones – pack DNA into cells and chromosomes
  • integrin – adheres cells to other cells
  • selectin – adheres white blood cells to other cells in the bloodstream

High-Protein Foods

You have lots of different types of proteins that occur naturally in your body. However, you need to include protein-rich foods in your diet to keep your biological proteins balanced.

Here are examples of proteins in food with the number of grams of protein per 100 grams:

  • Soybeans – 35.9g
  • Cheese – 30.9g
  • Venison – 30.21
  • Pumpkin seeds – 28.8g
  • Lobster – 26.41
  • Canned tuna fish – 26.3g
  • Tuna fish – 25.6g
  • Monkfish – 24g
  • Crunchy peanut butter – 24.9g
  • Tilapia – 24g
  • Skinless chicken breast – 23.5g
  • Sunflower seeds – 23.4g
  • Orange roughy – 22.64g
  • Skinless turkey breast – 22.3g
  • Boneless salmon fillets – 21.6g
  • Sardines – 21.5g
  • Almonds – 21.1g
  • Beef fillet – 20.9
  • Lamb steak – 19.9g
  • Pork chops – 19.3g
  • Crab meat – 18.1g
  • Cod – 17.9g
  • Shrimp – 17.0g
  • Haddock – 16.4g
  • Bacon – 15.9g
  • Couscous – 15.1g
  • Anchovies – 14.5g
  • Pork sausages – 13.9g
  • Eggs – 12.5g
  • Pasta – 12.5g
  • Goji berries – 12.3g
  • Cottage cheese – 12.2g
  • Tofu – 12.1g
  • Pepperoni pizza – 11.4g
  • Whole grain bread – 11.0g
  • Porridge oats – 11.0g
  • Baked beans – 9.5g
  • Hummus – 7.4g
  • Brown rice – 6.9g
  • Peas – 5.9g
  • Spaghetti – 5.1g
  • Yogurt – 4.5g
  • Broccoli – 4.2g
  • Coconut – 3.33g
  • Whole milk – 3.3g
  • Asparagus – 2.9g
  • Spinach – 2.8g
  • Potatoes – 2.1g
  • Avocado – 1.9g
  • Bananas – 1.2g
  • Orange – 1.1g

Beans and Legumes

Whether you eat meat or you’re a strict vegan, beans and legumes are an excellent place to find protein. Check out these simple ways to add protein to your diet.

  • Tofu (½ cup) – 20g
  • Soy milk (1 cup) – 6 to 10g
  • Soybeans (½ cup cooked) – 14g
  • Split peas (½ cup cooked) – 8g
  • Other beans like black, pinto, lentils (1/2 cup) – 7 to 10g

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