Protein is found throughout the body, and it is required for the formation of hormones which control growth, sexual function and body metabolism.
Vegetarians need to know that to get all the amino acids required to make new protein; they should eat a variety of protein-containing food daily. It is essential to pay attention to what comes along with the protein you take. If you are partial to chicken, you need to realise that the skin is very rich in cholesterol and may need to be stripped off. If it is beef, stick with the leanest cuts.
Protein and Chronic Diseases
Diabetes mellitus: Protein found in cow’s milk have been linked to the development of Type I diabetes. This is one reason why artificial milk which is largely of cow origin is discouraged in infants. A similar association has not been found between Type II diabetes and milk ingestion in adults. Research is still ongoing on this.
Cardiovascular disease: A large prospective study conducted on women over 14 years, found women who ate the most protein, about 110 g of protein per day, were 25% less likely to have a heart attack or to have died of heart disease. This was in comparison to women who ate the least protein, about 68 g per day. This was irrespective of the type of protein consumed. This study showed that a high protein diet does not harm the heart, if anything, it probably protects it.
Weight control: Short-term studies have shown that a lower-calorie diet that includes more protein and less carbohydrate is more effective for losing weight or keeping weight steady than a lower calorie, high carbohydrate diet. High-protein meals like beef, chicken, fish, or beans make you feel full longer because they slow the movement of food from the stomach to the intestine. Also, the digestion of protein, when compared to that of carbohydrates, results in smaller steadier increases in blood sugar.
Groundnut and Soya Beans Preparations
Groundnut is an excellent source of protein and healthful nutrients. It is known to reduce the incidence of heart disease. One way does this is by lowering the LDL (bad) cholesterol and raising HDL (good) cholesterol. One group of unsaturated fat found in groundnuts is the omega fatty acids. These fatty acids are known to prevent blood clots much as aspirin does. Nuts are also rich in arginine; an amino acid needed in the synthesis of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is known to relax constricted blood vessels and ease blood flow. One protein source getting attention is Soya beans. It is found to lower cholesterol, chill hot flashes, prevent prostate or breast cancer, aid weight loss and ward off osteoporosis. These effects may be due to the unique characteristics of soya beans; the high concentrations of isoflavones, a type of plant-made oestrogen.
- Get the right mix of proteins.
- Pay attention to the protein package.
- Balance carbohydrates and proteins.
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