What’s the best type of protein if comparing plant and animal proteins? There are pros and cons for each, so the battle of plant vs animal proteins may not have a clear winner or loser. Let’s start with what quality protein is. Some refer to a high-quality protein as a complete protein, meaning it has all the necessary amino acids and can form all the proteins your body needs. It’s digestible and your body can break it down. There are quality proteins from both plants and animals. Fish, poultry, red meat, dairy, eggs, quinoa and soy all fit that description.
Not all plant protein is complete, so you have to combine them.
While beans aren’t a complete protein and neither is rice, when you combine them, you have a complete protein. While beans and rice do go together, not all complementary proteins do. The good news is that you can get complete proteins by simply ensuring you eat a complementary plant protein some time during that day. It doesn’t have to be at the same time.
What to consider about animal protein.
Animal protein is often considered a good source, since it’s complete and there’s little mix and matching. They’re used differently in the body than plant protein, since they’re more like the protein structure of the body. They’re more readily available, since they digest faster. Not all animal protein is superior. Some come from animals that are given steroids, antibiotics and have a diet that causes inflammation. Consider going organic and choosing meat or animal products from grass-fed animals or free-range. Avoid processed meat products with fervor. These are food like hot dogs, bacon and cold cuts that can cause inflammation. Red meat should also be limited.
There are some complete plant based protein sources.
Think seeds like hemp seeds, chia seeds, nuts, buckwheat and quinoa. Some vegetables are actually sources of protein, such as broccoli, beans, asparagus and Brussels sprouts. Add variety to your diet throughout the day to ensure it’s balanced. Plant protein comes with a wide variety of nutrients, which includes anti-inflammatory benefits.
- Combining proteins to get a complete protein may seem like quite a chore or even overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be. Think a peanut butter sandwich on whole grain as an example of a complete protein.
- You can get benefits from both plant and animal protein by combining them. Consider that whole grain cereal in the morning combined with milk. A dessert of Greek yogurt, nuts and fruit also is a good combo of both.
- Animal proteins are higher in saturated fat. They have a greater potential for increasing the risk of colon cancer, and harder on the liver and kidneys.
- Plant proteins have more essential fatty acids, but to get enough protein, you have to eat more food. Plant proteins are less costly, so having a meatless Monday or Tuesday, can save money and provide good nutrition.
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