Diversity Health

Proteins: function and protein rich foods

 

Do you know what proteins are and what they do in the body? This article is about proteins, one of the essential micronutrients to the human body. We address their importance to children’s growth and leave a list of foods rich in protein.

Proteins

What are proteins?

According to the portal of Portuguese pharmacies, proteins are a group of basic nutrients that the body uses for the formation and maintenance of muscles, skin, hair and other structures in our body.

The most important foods where we can find proteins are of animal origin. However, some foods of plant origin also provide large amounts of protein.

What foods do I find proteins in?

As we mentioned, you will find a significant amount of protein in foods of animal origin, but also in some of vegetable origin:

Animal origin: in meat, fish, eggs and dairy products
Vegetable origin: legumes, nuts and certain cereals

What is our daily need for this nutrient?

Our daily need for proteins depends on the stage of life we are in, as there are stages where the need for this nutrient is very high. We refer here to the growth stages, especially in peak growth phases.

Babies and teenagers therefore have very high protein needs as this is important for growth and development. it is no coincidence that breast milk is rich in protein.

Children are of course not an exception, as they also need large amounts of protein. However, a 2019 study found that Portuguese children eat 4 times more protein than recommended!

If insufficient protein consumption can, on the one hand, cause problems in the child’s growth, its excessive consumption is associated with obesity and other health problems, namely kidney and cardiovascular.

How are protein levels measured in food?

There is little evidence that animal protein, derived mainly from dairy products, has a stronger positive association with children’s growth than vegetable protein, according to an article in Pedipedia dedicated to food diversification.

The Portuguese Nutrition Association has published a feeding guide for school-age children, which is very convenient and easy to follow. According to this guide, children need proteins daily from:

2 to 3 servings dairy products – – 1 serving corresponds to one glass of milk (250 ml), 1 liquid yogurt, 200 ml yogurt, 2 thin slices of cheese or 50 grams of fresh cheese
1.5 to 4.5 meat, fish or eggs – 1 serving equals 25 grams of cooked meat or fish or 1 medium egg
1 to 2 servings legumes – 1 serving equals 3 tablespoons
of legumes already cooked

List of protein-rich foods:
Animal proteins

Prefer white and skinless meat as well as fatty fish. Avoid processed and red meat.

Chicken
Peru
Coelho
Ko
Pigs
Eggs
Prepared with meat
Sausages
Hamburgers
Meatballs
Sausages
Etc.
Mackerel
Salmon
Tuna
Sardine
Horse mackerel
Sea bass
Trout
Hake
Prepared with fish
Etc.

Milk proteins

Give preference to semi-fat or lean dairy products. Avoid fatty dairy products. Butter and cream are not included in this group.

Milk
Yogurt
Cured cheese
Fresh cheese
Creamy cheese
Kefir
Prepared with cheese
buttery cheese on bread
Etc.

Plant proteins

Bean
Chickpeas
Peas
Lenses
Beans
Quinoa
Buckwheat
Oats
Nuts
Almonds
Hazelnuts
Peanuts
cajus
Seeds like sunflower
Prepared nuts or pulses
Peanut butter
almond butter
Soy
hummus (cereal paste)
vegetarian burgers
Etc.

 

 

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