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What are Proteins?

Proteins are very essential in everybody's diet. Proteins are complex substances found in many foods and are made up of thousands of small units called amino acids. Proteins contain about 4 Kcal per gram, but the body prefers to use carbohydrate and fat as energy sources.

It is vital to have protein in enough amount because they are the building blocks of the body responsible for growth, tissue repair and replacement. Bones, muscles, the walls of hollow organs - in fact almost every part of the body - needs a supply of amino acids in order to keep healthy.

Meat and fish are excellent sources of protein. You can also get protein from cereals, dairy products, lentils, pulses, nuts and some vegetables. The proteins in meat and fish provide all the amino acids the body needs, and in approximately the right proportions - they are called "complete proteins". The proteins from plants are called "incomplete proteins" - they don't contain all the amino acids the body needs. In fact, no single plant contains all the amino acids the body needs. However, it is possible to obtain all the amino acids the body needs from a vegetarian diet, provided a good variety of grains, pulses, cereals and vegetables are eaten.

From a kcalories point of view, about 15 % of your total daily kcalories should come from protein. It's recommended to have about 0.75 grams of protein per kilogram of body Weight every day. Use the table below as a guide to your protein requirements. (source: http://www.bupa.co.uk)

Weight (stones)
Weight (kilograms)
min daily intake of protein (grams)
8
51
40
9
57
43
10
63
48
11
70
52
12
76
57
13
83
62
14
89
67

If your diet is too low in calories (from all food sources) the body will begin to use protein as an energy source taking the protein in our muscles to convert into calories. This is not good for the health. When this happens important muscle mass is lost making the body weaker and flabbier. People who are dieting and severely restricting their calories intake put themselves at risk.

Too much protein should also be avoided as this can cause problems in people who have liver and kidney problems.

These waste-removing organs become overloaded and have difficulty in coping. Furthermore if the main sources of protein are meat and dairy products - which can also contain a lot of saturated fat - there is a danger that blood cholesterol levels might increase.

More info...
Seafish Recipe Book

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