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Health & Fitness > Health > Nutrition Guide

Protein

Protein is an indispensable part of the diet involved in the body's vital functions such as growth, maintenance and repair. There is no danger of protein deficiency in a balanced vegetarian diet. Most people eat more protein than they need. There is no organ in the body for storing excess protein. Any surplus is expelled in the urine or converted to fat and stored. In childhood, protein is important for growth but protein requirements decrease with age. Old people and any person with weak kidneys cannot handle excess protein.

Combining foods for protein
For e.g., in the staple diet of India, the amount of rice served is larger than the amount of dal. Modern science has shown that legumes and dal are deficient in the amino acid, methionine and grains are deficient in lysine. Interestingly enough, lysine is abundant in legumes so that grains and legumes mesh as nutritional complements. For any grains and legume combination, there is a certain proportion which is optimal. Experiments have shown, that the perfect combination is twice the amount of grain to the pulses-and that is how Indians have been eating their rice and dal for centuries! Combining foods like grains and legumes or grains and milk products can provide complete proteins.

Eat More Eat less
Dal, beans & Sprouts Red meats
Egg whites Egg yolks
Cream Cheeses Cottage Cheese
Low fat dairy foods Full fat dairy foods
Cereals  

Other sources of protein
Nuts contain a large amount of high quality protein and also essential fatty acids. (Contrary to popular opinion, nuts do not contain cholesterol) Unfortunately, nuts are high in calories. A pound of nuts contain as many calories as 7 pounds of potatoes, clearly not a food for dieters! In traditional Indian dishes nuts are used frequently but sparingly.

Seeds like pumpkin, sesame and cucumber are also good sources of protein. Grains too, are more than simple starch. Besides containing vitamins and minerals, they contain a significant amount of protein.

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