Protein is one of the macronutrients, along with fats and carbs, that we require to survive. Proteins from meals are used by our bodies to create hormones, enzymes, and other essential components for hormone production and tissue growth and repair. Although traditionally animals are thought of as our primary source of protein, there are many more different protein sources available. Since a decade, plant-based diets have become more popular, with an increased focus on plant based sources of protein and their benefits.
Plant-based diets, which prefer plant protein over animal sources due to factors ranging from health to sustainability to animal cruelty are on the rise in Western nations. The majority of global dietary guidelines recommend increasing the consumption of food groups derived from plants and reducing that of food groups derived from animal sources. Let’s try to understand this from the perspective of health and nutrition.
Here’s why meat isn’t very healthy.
Numerous studies have demonstrated the un-healthiness of using animal-based proteins as a primary protein source. It is much preferable to obtain the majority of the required protein from plants. In general, diets rich in plant based sources are often healthier. Eating five servings of veggies rich in protein per day comes with a lower risk of heart attack and stroke, and increasing that intake to 10 servings per day could lower a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease by 28% and overall risk of death by 31%, according to a 2017 review in the International Journal of Epidemiology that examined 95 studies.
Yes, the links that these studies show are correlations, not causes. However, there are some good arguments for why plant-based protein sources like beans are preferable to bacon. Bacon provides more Vitamin B12 than black beans do, but black beans are higher in thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, and Vitamin B6. Each of these essential vitamins helps your body function properly.
Eating too much red meat may be harmful to your health. Many people’s diets include sizzling steaks and juicy burgers. However, studies have shown that eating red and processed meat on a regular basis increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers, particularly colorectal cancer.
Animal and plant proteins are equivalent in quality.
There is no escaping the importance of eating enough protein in your diet. In general, it should provide anything from 10 to 35 percent of your daily caloric needs. But that is the norm. Your real protein needs can vary depending on your age, body type, level of physical activity, pregnancy, health, and whether you’re healing from major surgery or an injury. Fortunately, research indicates that the way our bodies utilise proteins from plant and animal sources is very similar.
Numerous nutrients are found in the flesh of animals. You can get all the amino acids you need to make your biological proteins, as well as vitamins like B12, niacin, thiamine, B5, B6, B7, and vitamins A and K, if you eat a variety of animal meats (light and dark, not just beef), as well as different organs. But here’s the thing: You won’t be any worse off if you replace all that animal protein with an equally varied diet of plant-based proteins like nuts, seeds, and beans.
That’s a result of the similar range of nutrients that these foods also contain. The biggest distinction is that most plants are unable to produce vitamin B12 on their own. Although fortified cereals and edible seaweed are both sources of B12, taking supplements is the simplest method to obtain it in case one wants to go completely plant based.
Animal protein causes increased cancer risk
Animal proteins are known for having a larger percentage of necessary amino acids, which causes our bodies to produce more insulin-like growth factor-1 which have consistently been linked to increased cancer risk, proliferation, and malignancy because this hormone encourages cell division and growth in both healthy and malignant cells.
In addition, carcinogens are produced when animal foods are cooked at high temperatures. Heterocyclic Amines (HCAs) and Polycylic Aromatic Hydrocarbons are examples of by-products. When creatines and amino acids (both found in meats) interact with heat, HCAs are formed.
Plants also contain fibre
Fibre, an indigestible carbohydrate that helps maintain our gut bacteria happy and our digestive systems in good operating order, is not naturally present in meat, seafood, or dairy products. However, plant protein sources like beans, lentils, and other plant proteins do. If we are overly reliant on animal sources of protein, we thus miss out on dietary fibre, a crucial element to a healthy lifestyle numerous health advantages of fibre have been demonstrated, including the preservation of intestinal health, control of blood sugar, and reduction of “bad” cholesterol.
The fat that frequently accompanies steak is another factor making it unhealthily bad for you. Because it provides flavour and texture, fat is one of the reasons steaks and hamburgers are so good. It might also cause your heart to become clogged. At room temperature, saturated fats are solid, and they tend to raise your total cholesterol levels, which increases your risk of cardiovascular disease (although not as much as trans fats). As a result, the balance may eventually shift in favour of LDL (low-density lipid), which is what clogs arteries. Compared to red and other dark meats, foods like almonds, avocados, hemp, and fish have far fewer saturated fats. They are known as “healthy fats” as a result.
There are healthy animal protein sources available, such as chicken and fish, that do not contain saturated fats and have a higher protein-to-calorie ratio than plant-based sources. However, due to a lack of dietary fibre and other essential nutrients, they cannot be completely relied on. As a result, it is critical for any diet to include a variety of plant-based protein sources in order to meet our daily protein requirements.
Other than whey proteins, vegans and vegetarians have plenty of options for meeting their protein needs while keeping their calories under control. Hemp seeds are high in protein and contain 9 essential amino acids, which can be included in your diet. Hemp protein powders, hemp butters, and other hemp products will soon flood the markets making it easier for us to consume hemp in our daily lives.