Animal protein vs plant protein: Which is better?

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Protein is the building block of the body but which one is more important for you: animal protein vs plant protein? Read on to find out.

When you think of protein, egg is the first name that pops into your head. Yes, it is a good source of protein but it’s not the only one out there! Protein is found in various foods, including animal and plant-based ones. The debate between animal protein vs plant protein is an age-old argument that continues to date. Animal proteins are generally regarded as complete proteins, containing all essential amino acids, whereas some plant-based foods are considered incomplete. Having said that, it is essential to compare both sources of protein to determine which one is best for your overall health.

Why do you need protein?

Protein is crucial for various bodily functions, serving as the building block for tissues, muscles, organs, enzymes, hormones, and immunity. It aids in repairing and building muscle mass, supports metabolic processes, and makes you feel satiable. Without enough protein, you may experience muscle weakness, fatigue, impaired immune function, and delayed wound healing. According to Harvard Health Publishing, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.

What are the benefits of animal protein?

“Animal protein sources such as lean meats, fish, eggs, and dairy foods tend to be good sources of complete protein compared to plant-based protein sources,” according to Physician Dr Manish Itolikar. They are packed with all essential amino acids, which are crucial for building and repairing tissues, as well as supporting immune function and hormone production. Additionally, animal proteins are rich in important nutrients such as vitamin B12, iron, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids, which are vital for brain health, red blood cell production, immune function, and overall vitality.

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Animal protein contains more protein than plant protein. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Moreover, animal protein can help with weight management by promoting satiety and reducing appetite, which can aid in controlling calorie intake and preventing overeating. Overall, consuming animal protein in moderation can support various bodily functions.

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What are the benefits of plant protein?

Plant-based proteins such as fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, grains, nuts, and seeds are often rich in fibre, which is known to help improve digestion, promote satiety, and help regulate blood sugar levels. Dr Itolikar says, “Plant proteins are typically lower in saturated fats and cholesterol compared to animal protein sources, making them heart-healthy options that can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.”

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Additionally, plant proteins offer a diverse array of essential nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, which are beneficial for overall health and well-being.

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Which protein source is better: animal protein or plant protein?

Animal protein and plant protein differ in their composition, sourcing, and effects on health and the environment. Animal protein, found in meat, dairy, and eggs, contains all essential amino acids and essential nutrients like vitamin B12, due to which it is often considered a complete protein. However, it also contains higher levels of saturated fats and cholesterol, contributing to cardiovascular issues.

Plant protein, on the other hand, includes legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds, all of which offer a variety of nutrients, including fibre, vitamins, and minerals. While some plant protein sources may lack certain amino acids, combining different plant foods can create complete proteins. Plant-based diets are linked to lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.

plant based diet
Follow a plant-based diet to improve your overall health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

In conclusion, you can eat both plant-based and animal-based protein sources. But eat animal protein occasionally and in moderation. Additionally, to ensure that you are getting your recommended daily amount of protein from plant sources, mix and match different plant foods. This is the best way to incorporate both kinds of proteins into your diet and meet your daily protein requirements.

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