Differences between animal and vegetable proteins


Introduction

Animal or vegetable: understanding the differences between these proteins could help in choosing a balanced and nutritionally balanced diet, without risking deficiencies in terms of vitamins and mineral salts. The two categories obviously differ in the quantity of amino acids and biological value of the proteins, but this does not mean that one is better than the other.

Animal proteins: where they are found

  • meat (bovine, pig, sheep, horse, poultry, offal);
  • pesce;
  • egg;
  • milk, cheese and dairy products.

Vegetable proteins: where to find them

  • legumes (peas, lentils, chickpeas, broad beans)
  • spoa derivatives – which we remember is a legume – (tofu, tempeh, miso, tamari shoyu)
  • whole cereals or their parts (ad es. wheat germ);
  • other seeds (sesame seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds);
  • dried nuts (pine nuts, almonds, peanuts, dried walnuts);
  • alghe (ad es. spirulina).

Animal and vegetable proteins: differences

Proteins, as is known, are made up of building blocks called amino acids. Some of them are essential, meaning the body is not able to produce them and it is necessary to introduce them through food. Animal proteins are more complete since they contain all the essential amino acids in quantities and ratios similar to those of humans. Vegetable proteins, on the other hand, are less complete, since lacking in one or more essential amino acids – alternating them from different sources, however, it is possible to balance the biological value of vegetable proteins.

Another difference, in addition to the type of protein, concerns the digestibility coefficient, a parameter that tells us how much food is absorbed, and therefore the percentage of digestibility. In this sense, vegetable proteins are less digestible, just think of cereals and legumes. In fact, meat and eggs are more digestible.

As for their nutritional properties and the supply of vitamins and mineral salts, animal and vegetable proteins clearly differ. Plant foods, often consumed by those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, contain vegetable proteins which are an important source of fibre, with a high satiating and low-calorie power. On the other hand, however, it is useful to detect a lower quantity of iron and vitamin B12 compared to animal proteins.

Here are the foods with the most plant proteins and how to increase your intake.

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Which ones do you prefer?

Proteins, as is known, are not the only element to consider in a healthy and balanced diet when talking about nutrients. It is important, however, to consider protein quality understood in terms of amino acid composition. Which to prefer between animals and plants from this point of view? The vegetable proteinsdue to their lack of essential amino acids, would not be preferred as they do not represent an equally nutritious and complete alternative to animal ones.

This does not mean that it is not possible to exclude animal proteins from the diet, but that it is essential to combine plant foods of different origins to obtain the same nutritional level. A classic example, recommended by nutrition experts, is given by the combination of cereals and legumes, therefore pasta and chickpeas, pasta and beans, rice and peas

In this case we are talking about protein complementation: the amino acids that pasta lacks (lysine, methionine, etc.) are supplied by legumes, and vice versa. A shortage of lysine can lead to a deficit vitamin B3, essential for the functioning of the nervous system and cellular respiration. If what is lacking is the methionineHowever, hair, nails and oxidative stress at the cellular level could be affected.

Daily protein requirement

It is essential to provide the body with a daily quantity of proteins which allows you to restore the daily loss of 20-80 g of protein.

According to experts, in sedentary subjects – of all ages and both sexes – proteins must appear in quantities between just over a gram a just over a gram and a half per kilogram of body weight. Of these, to be sure of a satisfactory biological value, i 2/3 must derive from products of animal origin and 1/3 from products of plant origin.

As a percentage of the normocaloric diet of a subject who has an average level of physical activity, proteins should occupy 12-18/20% (approximately of the energy) – the maximum level can vary greatly from one bibliographic source to another.

Biological value

The biological value of proteins helps to evaluate the composition of essential amino acids. In some plant foods it is comparable to that of meat and fish. But it cannot be considered a universal discussion. In this sense, vegetable proteins are not balanced at the level of essential amino acids, but animal proteins are not to be preferred to vegetable proteins as they have a high acidifying power. Furthermore, foods containing animal-derived proteins are richer in saturated fats, cholesterol and lacking vitamins e mineral salts.

Where to find plant and animal proteins

Proteins of plant and animal origin should be included in a balanced diet. One category does not exclude the other. Animal proteins are present in: meat, fish, eggs, milk, cheese and dairy products.

Vegetable ones, however, are found in: legumes (peas, lentils, chickpeas, broad beans); soy and derivatives (tofu, tempeh, miso, tamari shoyu), cereals (spelt, wheat germ), seeds (sesame seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds), dried fruit (pine nuts, almonds, peanuts, dried walnuts) , wheat bran, algae (spirulina) etc.

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