Protein is one of the three key macronutrients we need (the other two being fats and carbohydrates), and it plays an important role in helping our bodies grow, develop and repair. We should eat protein as part of a varied and balanced diet to get the necessary nutrients for our bodies.
Protein is essential to the development of new cells as well as the restoration of muscle, skin and bones.
Choosing a variety of foods helps to provide our bodies with the right quantity and quality of proteins. These can include plant-based protein sources such as pulses and peas or animal-based protein sources such as fish and lean meats.
Having a well-balanced diet that is rich in a variety of plant-based proteins can help with the general maintenance of good health.
Why is protein important for our health?
Proteins are incredible nutrients that are important for the basic structure of our bodies. Our cells, organs, muscles, bones and connective tissue are built with the help of proteins, and we rely on protein to repair our body throughout our lives. Protein also gives us with energy, with 1g of protein providing 4kcal.
Foods can be either ‘complete’ or ‘incomplete’ source of protein. The difference between the two is that ‘complete’ protein sources contain all the essential amino acids we need, while ‘incomplete’ proteins have some but not all essential amino acids our bodies require. As long as we eat a variety of protein foods in our diets, whether an individual food is ‘complete’ or not is not something to worry about.
As protein is a key component of every cell of our bodies, we should pay attention to the types of foods we eat to get the necessary intake we need to maintain our health. If we don’t eat enough protein for a prolonged period, we can become protein-deficient- however, this is very rare in Europe.
How much protein do you need?
Our recommended protein intake varies based on our individual need, but the general consensus is that adults should consume approximately 0.75g of protein for each kilogram of body weight. This would add up to approximately 56g per day for an average-weight man, and 45g per day for an average-weight woman. Children’s protein needs vary by age, and stage of growth and development, and pregnant or breastfeeding women also have different requirements. It also varies if you’re exercising more and looking to build more muscle.
Sources of protein
Protein is almost all-encompassing as it can be found in plant and animal foods, with fish, beans and pulses, eggs and meat providing a great source of protein for your daily diet. It’s easy to reach your daily protein intake just by having healthy, balanced meals.
If you’re looking to incorporate more vegetarian protein sources into your diet, your best bet is to eat protein-rich foods such as peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas.
And where possible, opt for lower-fat protein-rich foods, to minimise saturated fat intake. It’s also worth being conscious about when you’re consuming protein, as ideally it should be eaten as part of each meal.
Protein is central to how we are built and how we function every day. We recommend that you try incorporating plant proteins into your daily diet, and ideally eat a source of protein in every meal. If you want to make a simple change to your diet to boost your plant protein intake, why not try our new Green Cuisine Meat-Free Burgers , Swedish Style Balls and Sausages, packed with pea protein goodness.