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Proteins-Building Blocks of Life

Complete And Incomplete Proteins

Foods that contain adequate amounts of all the essential amino acids are classed as complete. Complete proteins include eggs, meat, fish, dairy produce, poultry, soy and quinoa. A diet rich in these foods means that you have all the amino acids necessary to synthesise the non-essential amino acids.

Many plants contain a variety of amino acids but are often deficient in some of the essentials and are therefore classed as incomplete proteins. Because they are lacking one or more of the essential amino acids most plant foods are considered to be carbohydrates rather than proteins. Examples include vegetables, seeds, nuts, beans and grains.

Sources of Protein

Complementary Proteins

Like pieces of a jigsaw, you can slot incomplete proteins together to make a fully-fledged protein. This is important for vegetarians and for people who want to consume non-animal protein sources.

  • Grains and pulses

  • Vegetables and nuts

  • Vegetables and seeds

  • Grains and dairy

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Nuts and pulses

  • Seeds and pulses

  • With a little culinary imagination it is possible to turn any of the incomplete proteins listed into a healthy source of complete protein, or, at the very least put some peanut butter on your toast or some nuts in your vegetable stir fry! However, it’s worth noting that complementary proteins do not need to be consumed in the same meal to be effective. In fact, recent research suggests that a viable complete protein can be created from two complementary proteins consumed in the same 24-hour period. Foods that are considered to be complementary proteins will also contain insignificant amounts of carbohydrate which must be considered when calculating energy intake.

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