Proteins are found in every cell of the human body and are essential for the optimal functioning of many vital organs. Learn why they are so important in the diet. The incorporation of proteins in the diet is one of the essential habits to take care of health and weight. This important nutrient is one of the main sources of energy for the body, and is responsible for the proper functioning of several vital systems. In fact, it is one of the basic components for the good work of metabolism and the formation of muscle mass. In addition, it is key in any plan to lose weight, as it helps increase energy expenditure and controls anxiety.
The consumption of the foods that contain them brings many benefits to the diet. However, they should not be consumed in excess, as they can overload the body and cause illness. But what do they contribute in the diet? Why are they so important? Given that for some time its consumption has been highlighted, we want to resolve these questions by detailing its function in detail.
What are Proteins?
Proteins are long chains of amino acids that, in turn, are made up of molecules of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen. In addition, they constitute 20% of the human organism, being determinants for the growth of children and the health of adults. The word “protein” comes from the Greek protos, which means first, because it is a basic component in the body. They are found mainly in products of animal origin and legumes, although it is also found in cereals and vegetables.
Classification of Proteins According to their Biological Value
“Proteins are macro molecules that, together with carbohydrates and fats, represent the main nutrients for the body”.
They are composed of amino acids, of which some are considered essential because the body cannot produce them. Depending on their contribution and assimilation in the body, protein sources can be classified by their biological value. Thus, those that contain the essential amino acids are considered high quality. In this way, they are divided into:
- High: those that provide food of animal origin (meat, eggs, fish, etc.).
- Medium: those that contain cereals, legumes and nuts.
- Low: this group is formed by vegetables, tubers and some fruits.
What do Proteins Contribute in the Diet?
The proteins are found in every cell of the human body. Therefore, an adequate absorption of them is crucial for its optimal functioning. Its importance is not only that they must correspond to 15% of total energy value. They have many other functions that are essential.
The proteins in the diet are important because:
- They help to form and repair tissues of the skin, organs, muscles and bones.
- They are necessary for the functions of all cells.
- They participate in the formation of antibodies and strengthen the immune system.
- They facilitate a good digestion of food by participating in the production of enzymes.
- They are an essential source of energy.
- They help distribute oxygen in the blood.
- They participate in the assimilation of other essential nutrients.
- They make up the structure of DNA.
- They favor the control of blood sugar levels.
- They regulate the maintenance of pH.
- They help create numerous hormones that regulate functions in the body.
What are the Protein needs in the Diet?
The daily protein needs in the diet can vary depending on the age or stage the person is going through. For that reason, the requirements vary during pregnancy, childhood and old age. In general, a balanced diet should have a daily protein intake that corresponds to 12 or 15% of the total energy. Consequently, and following the general rule, they would be between 0.8 and 1 gram of protein per kilo of weight.
- Children and adolescents need a little higher contribution because they are in the process of development. It is suggested between 1 and 1.2 grams per kilo of weight.
- Women in pregnancy also need a higher contribution. To cover your needs and that of the developing baby, the intake of 6 grams per kilo of weight in the second trimester is recommended, and up to 10 grams in the third trimester.
- During lactation the recommendation is to add 2 grams per kilo of weight.
- Babies under six months require about 2.2 grams of protein. If the baby weighs 9 Weight, he needs 14.4 grams of protein in his daily diet.
Protein-Rich Foods that you can Include in Your Diet
Finally, now that the importance of proteins in the diet is clear, it is good that you know which are the healthy foods that can provide them. We tell you some animal sources and others of plant origin. Try them!
- Serrano ham
- Blue Fish
- Chicken breast
- Turkey breast
- Pork Meat
- Soy and derivatives
- Nuts and seeds
- Unflavored gelatin
- Quinoa and legumes
- Green leafy vegetables
Do you worry about including enough proteins in your diet? Now that you know how important this nutrient is, do not hesitate to add it to your diet through various foods.
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