Your body needs many different proteins for various purposes, such as repairing and building body tissue and muscle; producing enzymes and hormones; regulating body processes; and transporting nutrients throughout the body. Because of the important role proteins play in our body, making sure you eat the right proteins and the right amount of proteins are essential to maintaining a healthy weight and reducing the likelihood of developing chronic diseases.
Proteins are created from about 20 amino acids, which are known as the “building blocks” of proteins. Nine of these building blocks are referred to as essential amino acids. They are considered essential because our bodies do not create them naturally; we must eat foods to create these essential amino acids. The remaining eleven amino acids are classified as non-essential, meaning that our bodies produce them naturally so we do not have to eat specific foods to supplement their development.
While proteins are essential to creating and maintaining several healthy processes in the body, the wrong foods can increase “bad” cholesterol known as LDL cholesterol. Foods that are high in fatty acids, which increase LDL cholesterol, are regular ground beef, fatty cuts of lamb, and beef, hot dogs, and lunchmeats. It is important to avoid high intake of these foods and supplement them with foods that are low in fatty acids, such as seafood, lean meats and poultry.
It is easiest to get protein from meat, chicken, turkey, fish and dairy foods. Cooked meat is about 15 to 40 percent protein. Foods from animal sources provide complete protein, which means they contain all the essential amino acids. Managing the intake of fatty acids and maximizing your intake of essential amino acids are important factors in reducing the risk of heart disease and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.