PROTEINS – BUILD OUR MUSCLES

Proteins are a highly complex substance that is present in all living organisms. Proteins are of great nutritional value and directly involved in the chemical processes essential for life. The importance of it was recognized by the chemist in the early 19th century who coined the name of this substance from the Greek word ‘proteios’ meaning ‘holding first place. Theseare species-specific that means all the species (types of animal including human) has a unique type of protein in it. Not only this, but proteins are also ‘organ-specific’ which means single specie (or animal) have different types of proteins in their different body organs. For example, within a single organism muscle protein differ from that of the brain and liver. 

Proteins are made up of building blocks called ‘amino acid’, linked together with a bond called ‘peptide bond’, which results in the bigger molecule called amide. One can say all are chains of amino acid held together by a peptide bond. An amino acid is an amino group. Amines are an organic compound that contains a basic nitrogen atom, amines are derived from the compound called ammonia. A single amino acid always has,

a.     An amino group – NH2
b.    A carboxyl group – COOH
c.     A hydrogen – H
d.    Chemical group or side chain – R

They are responsible for the growth and repair of the body tissues. Proteins form an integral part of all the structures in our body like the hairs, skin, bones, muscles, nails, etc; Other than the growth and repair function, proteins also provide calories. They too like the carbohydrates provide 4 calories per gram. Hence they too are a healthy source of energy for our body. 20% of our daily energy requirements should be met through the proteins. The inclusion of it in the diet is a must to provide better maintenance of the body.

The eaten are digested in our gastrointestinal tract and absorbed in the form of amino acids. These amino acids are then canalized into three main functions:–

1.    Formation of new protein molecules for building purpose,
2.    For the production of enzymes and hormones required for the functioning of the body,
3.    For energy purposes.

Sources of protein-

1.    Pulses and legumes- all the pulses and legumes are a very good source of protein, especially in a vegetarian diet.
2.    Soy product- products like soy milk, tofu, and tempeh, etc have become the center of attraction especially for pure vegans looking for a good source of protein. Like non-vegetarian food soy products are ‘High Biological Value Protein’ or ‘Complete Protein’.
3.    Milk and milk products- they are the well-known sources of it, but they are not considered very good for the adults because of the presence of cholesterol in them, consumption of skimmed or double toned milk is not that harmful as cholesterol is reduced in them.
4.    Nuts- nuts are very rich source of protein, they are comparable to non-veg food in their protein content, but they are not at all advisable especially to heart patients because of the extremely high-fat content of these foods. Their consumption (including almonds and walnuts) can increase total cholesterol in the blood and put you at risk of coronary artery disease.     
5.    Animal foods like fish chicken and red meat (banned as they contain Cholesterol).
6.    Egg white

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