Most people get enough protein from food; but do they choose the best of this important ingredient in daily dieting?
The amount of protein required
The amount of protein we need daily depends on weight and physical activity. Some people need to limit protein intake, due to kidney impairment or metabolic disorder.
Healthy adults are generally recommended daily at 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.
Of course, this amount rises during the stages of childhood and pregnancy and breastfeeding and recovery from serious illness, and also after exposure to trauma or undergo surgery. Athletes who are very active in training also need more protein.
The optimal protein percentage is 20% of the total daily calorie intake.
Before starting to consume more protein, there are some important things to consider:
• Consuming a larger protein in meals does not necessarily mean eating more meat. It is true that red meat, poultry and fish, as well as milk, cheese and eggs, provide high quality protein, but the latter also provides vegetarian foods, including whole grains, beans and other legumes, nuts, and some vegetables.
Red meat is an important source of protein, but it is also a source of saturated fat. Poultry and fish are therefore preferred animal sources of protein, and oily fish (salmon, for example) provide omega-3 fatty acids.
• Beans and whole grains are excellent sources of protein, and also of fiber.
• It is also important to consider protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, which necessitates the selection of low-saturated protein sources and processed carbohydrates.
• Most animal protein sources contain the essential amino acids in their entirety, as mentioned above, but many vegetable sources are not. For a full range of essential amino acids, vegetarians need to eat a variety of plant foods that contain protein, daily.
Excessive intake of protein
Could you be over-eating protein, harmful?
The short answer is yes. The conditions associated with proteinuria include: high cholesterol, high risk of cardiovascular disease, increased risk of cancer, kidney disease, kidney stones, weight gain, constipation or diarrhea.
Some studies point out that the above-mentioned cases concerned individuals who ate high-protein diets, but that did not mean that the protein caused them. Some of these factors are not necessarily due to the protein itself, but to how the protein is consumed or what replaces the protein. For example, high protein diet, high in red meat, and high-fat dairy products may lead to high cholesterol, high risk of heart disease and colon cancer. In contrast, other high-protein diets do not have similar risks.
Red meat, heart disease and cancer
Some red meat is high in saturated fat, and may raise cholesterol levels in the blood, increasing the risk of heart disease.
In terms of cancer, the answer is not clear, although researchers speculate that over-eating of red meat is responsible for the risk of colorectal cancer.
After a systematic review of a set of scientific studies, the Committee found experts from the Global Fund for Cancer Research and the American Institute for Research on Cancer in 2007 that "red or processed meat is a convincing or potential source of some cancers."
They report convincing evidence of a link between red meat and processed meat, and colorectal cancers, but they are limited, but they are alarming and suggest links to lung, esophageal, stomach, pancreatic, and endometrial cancers.
• Saturated fat in meat, associated with colon and breast cancers as well as heart disease.
• carcinogens form when the meat is mature.
• Hem iron available in meat, iron that may produce compounds that can damage cells, leading to cancer.
Red meat, on the other hand, is rich in iron, a substance that is usually reduced in the bodies of adolescent girls and women in their reproductive years. The body absorbs the iron of the available red meat easily. Red meat also provides vitamin B12, which helps to make DNA, and maintains the health of red blood cells, nerve, and zinc, which enhances the functioning of the immune system.
Red meat provides protein as previously stated, which helps build bones and muscles.