What is Protein? The term “Protein” comes from the Greek word “Proteus” meaning of “prime importance.” Protein is believed to be of such vital significance that life may be impossible without it. Protein is the only nutrient that contains nitrogen as a part of amino acids and thus the only nutrient that can carry out repair of muscles and other body tissues. All proteins are made of 20 amino acids arranged in different sequences.
Functions of protein in the body
Protein is present in significant amounts in most of the body cells, and it may contribute about one fifth of the total body weight of an average adult. About half of that protein is found in the muscle, about one fifth may be present in bone and cartilage, one tenth may be in the skin and the rest is distributed throughout the other tissues, in the blood and other body fluids. Protein has many vital functions in the body.
1. Being the most abundant component in the body cells and tissues it provides structure and strength to most body tissues.
2. Protein and amino acids are essential for growth and repair of all body tissues. They are also a vital part of cell division for formation of new cells.
3. Due to their specific shape, structure and arrangement, they bring about muscle contraction.
4. Proteins are required for the transport of nutrients.
5. It is needed to form many vital substances that are essential for the functioning, metabolism and regulation of the body, for e.g., enzymes and hormones.
6. Protein aids immunity, antibodies are proteins produced by certain immune system cells that help to fight against infections and foreign substances.
7. Proteins are required to produce enzymes for detoxification of the liver.
8. Also help in maintaining water balance and thus helps in prevention of water retention.
Potent protein food sources
There are two kinds of protein based on the amino acid profile, distinguishing them into first and second-class protein. Let’s take a look at the protein food sources that can be good for our body.
First class protein rich food sources are: whole egg and egg whites, fish, white meat like chicken and turkey, red meat like mutton, milk and milk products like curd, paneer, and cheese. These contain all essential amino acids in sufficient quantities to meet the requirement of the body for survival and growth.
Second class protein rich food sources are rice, wheat, pulses, sprouts, nuts like almonds, walnut, peanuts, cashew and pista, and soya. These are referred to as incomplete proteins since they are deficient in one or more essential amino acids. However, by combining two of these protein food sources, you can make them into a complete source. For example - combining Dalia and milk to make Dalia porridge or combining rice with a dal such as moong to make khichdi or rice and rajma to make rajma chaawal.
Too little protein consumption or protein deficiency can lead to muscle wasting, lowering body metabolism, lower immunity, decrease in hormone production and can stimulate stress response. It can impact our hair, skin and nails as well as they are made of protein. Hence, consuming protein-rich food daily and more importantly consuming protein rich foods in three meals a day is beneficial for the body.
On a day to day basis including dals, beans, and sprouts in your meals can help you get some protein through each meal. These ingredients are easily available in the Indian kitchens and are already an integral part of our food. Use unpolished and pure dals like those from the Tata Sampann range to get proper nutrients from your daily diet.
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