The Truth About Protein


Maneka Sanjay Gandhi


(Bihar Times)The first excuse that committed meat-eaters use for eating dead bodies is that they need the protein. People who swear off graveyard food keep being told that they do not have a “ balanced diet” So lets talk about protein.

Proteins build and maintain all the cells and tissues in our body. Most muscles and organs are made up largely of protein. Protein breaks down into amino acids that maintain muscle, bones, blood and organs. It is therefore quite obvious as to why the daily diet should consist of protein.

A human being needs just about 8%-10% of his daily intake to be proteins. In actual terms that should be about 40 gms. Any more and your kidneys start groaning under the strain because they have to filter it out.

You can get protein from animal meat or vegetables, nuts, grains, legumes and beans.  

You may get more protein from an animal corpse, but all animal protein carries a great deal of cholesterol and saturated fat with it, which is not just bad for your heart but is carcinogenic and potentially diabetes giving as well. Plant based food has no baggage like this. For instance, a steak contains 64 gms. of protein (much more than you need in a day), but 34 gms of fat and 260 mg of cholesterol – more than you should have in a week ! Add the calories which are huge. A cup of cooked lentils has 18 gms of protein and less than 1 gm of fat. So three small katories of dal give you as much as a steak with no poisons on the side. An 88 gms. serving of meat contains up to 25% of the recommended daily value of fat, and up to 30 %  of cholesterol. Vegetable protein such as soy has no cholesterol and just 1 percent of the daily recommended fat. Peas, beans and chickpeas give 8 gms of protein per 100 gm. Spinach gives 13 gms. Even a small potato gives 5 gms. One serving of broccoli has 3 gms. And all of them have plenty of fibre as well, which meat does not have.

High protein vegetables have much fewer calories as well. 100 gms of beef has 332 calories, 100 gms of grilled fish has 109 calories . 100 gms of lean chicken has 219 calories, 100 gms of mutton has  294 calories. Add to that all the calories in the oil and spices used to cook them. Contrast that with corn - 86 calories. 100 gms of banana has 89 calories, beans 20-30 calories, beetroot 30, cabbage 20, carrots 35. Soyabeans have 35 calories. In fact most vegetables stay in the 10-50 bracket, except peas which go to 70 calories and potatoes which go to 125 .

Many plant-based proteins, such as soy, are easier for the body to digest than meat proteins. Plant-based proteins generally have more vitamins, minerals, and nutrients than animal proteins do.

Beans/legumes are the highest source of protein.1/2 cup of cooked, dried beans provides 7.5 gm of protein, approximately 15% of the daily dietary requirement of protein. Beans also provide fibre, iron, calcium, and vitamin B. 1/2 a cup of fresh soy bean sprouts contains 4.5 gm of protein.

Dried tomatoes, cooked or sun-dried tomatoes provide 2 gms of protein; and fibre, vitamins A and C, iron and calcium.

Mushrooms – 2 gms of protein can be obtained through 1/2 cup of cooked mushroom; and gives you Vitamin C, fibre and iron.

Cooking Greens, like spinach, are also high in protein providing 2 to 3 gms of protein in 1/2 a cup, and are high in fibre, vitamins and minerals.

1/2 a cup of cooked broccoli contains 2 g ms of protein, vitamin C and A.

Soyabean, buckwheat, quinoa and amaranth contain nearly every amino acid and are the most biologically complete. Soy protein and beans have about 22 gms of protein per serving, while peanuts have about 40 gms.

While meat-eaters claim that a portion of meat contains all the essential amino acids, try asking them to live on only meat and see what it does to the body. The measure BV, for biological value, is a gauge for how efficient a protein source is at building muscle and promoting tissue growth in the body. BV is measured on a scale from 1 to 100. While meat protein scores the highest , soy protein and other plant-based proteins, such as corn and wheat, all have BV scores of more than 50. In considering BV scores and the efficiency of protein in promoting growth, it is important to realize that most people who need protein for significant growth and development, rather than to maintain health, are only serious bodybuilders (and we know what happens to them later). People who exercise moderately and eat a varied diet do not need to be concerned about the BV values of protein sources they eat.

The Harvard School of Public Health says that a high protein diet, with the protein coming mainly from meat, creates allergies and can damage the heart. However, eating more vegetable protein, while cutting back on easily digested carbohydrates, may benefit the heart.

Eating more than the recommended amount – which meat eaters tend to do, since flesh food is high in protein – can lead to osteoporosis. Digesting protein releases acids that the body usually neutralizes with calcium in the blood. Eating lots of protein takes lots of calcium. Some of this may be pulled from bone. High protein diets therefore weaken bones.

As long as you eat different kinds of food – dals, vegetables and fruits - you get all the protein and amino acid you need. If you add meat to that, you get far more than what you need.

To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in



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