Archive for May, 2012


May 23, 2012

Protein is made of amino acids. The adult human body requires 20 different amino acids. Eight of these amino acids are called ‘essential amino acids’ because they must be obtained from diet. The remaining amino acids can be manufactured in the body using the eight essential amino acids as building blocks.

The eight essential amino acids are isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. Meat is often touted as being a superior source of protein because it is a ‘complete’ protein, i.e. it contains all 8 essential amino acids but contrary to popular opinion (or misconception) meat is not a necessary source of protein, and is certainly not a ‘complete protein’ if the meat is cooked.

Cooking alters the meat’s molecular structure and the high temperatures of cooking (or pasteurization) needed to kill off the harmful pathogens in the decomposing flesh, coagulates and destroys much of the proteins in all animal products. Lysine, for example, can be destroyed by heat starting at temperatures as low as 110°F/43°C, with higher temperatures bringing greater destruction.

If that’s not enough, the longer an animal carcass is sitting around, whether frozen or not, the more amino acids break down. So for example, chicken which when raw is around 35% protein, is actually only about 18% usable protein (if you’re lucky) after it’s finished traveling to your home and has been cooked. Also if it’s not organic, chemicals can denature the amino acids in it as well.

It’s easy to get complete protein from plant foods! Some foods from the plant kingdom, such as soy and quinoa, have complete protein but ALL plant based foods have varying amounts of protein and the body will combine proteins from all sources, to make ‘complete protein’. This is because whenever we eat, our body deposits amino acids into a storage bank, and then withdraws them whenever we need them. So, it’s no longer considered necessary to eat complementary proteins together at one sitting, to make complete protein.

“All proteins are made up of the same amino acids. All. No exceptions. The difference between animal and vegetable proteins is in the content of certain amino acids. If vegetable proteins are mixed, the differences get made up. Even if they aren’t mixed, all you need to do to get the right amount of low amino acids is to eat more of that food. There is no ‘need’ for animal proteins at all.” ~Dr. Marion Nestle, Professor, Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, New York University.

OPTIMUM sources of protein are raw (i.e. all the amino acids are intact and useable) and plant-based and can be easily obtained from fruit, green leafy vegetables, other raw vegetables like mushrooms, plus nuts, seeds and sprouted beans, lentils and grains.