Thursday, 4 December 2014

The 5 best sources of protein

Protein does a lot for your body. More than many people realise in fact. Whilst everyone knows that protein is necessary for muscle growth, a lot of people don't know how vital it is to the growth, maintenance, and general health of the body as a whole.

Not only is a good daily intake of protein required for muscle gains to occur, but it is also required for the production of neurotransmitters; healthy skin, hair, and nails; and the health of many other aspects of your body and brain. In this way it affects both your physical and mental health.

All of this makes protein one of the most important nutrients, but how can you get enough of it without devouring a mountain of steak? Here are 5 of the best sources of protein, which are not only high in protein but also phenomenally good for you in other ways too.

5. Salmon and other oily fish

Salmon isn't everyone's cup of tea and some people don't eat fish. For those who do however, salmon is easily one of the best and healthiest foods to include in your diet. This oily fish is high in protein, and it's also high in healthy fats and omega 3 fatty acids.

It is these healthy fats in salmon that make it so beneficial for your heart. It can potentially even help reduce the pain of arthritis and other joint issues or inflammation based diseases because omega 3 fatty acids have a natural anti-inflammatory effect.

On top of this, salmon is one of the only foods that are naturally high in vitamin D, which tends to be deficient in surprisingly many people. A deficiency in vitamin D can cause problems with joints, bones, muscles, mood, and lead to fatigue and depression.

Add in the positive benefits to your blood pressure and cholesterol levels and what you have is a veritable powerhouse of nutrition, so fans of seafood can rejoice in knowing that salmon is one of the best sources of protein, yet also a healthy food in its own right.

4. Peanuts, almonds, and other nuts

Nuts like peanuts and almonds are extremely high in protein, even approaching the amount of protein found in lean meat. What's even better is that if you're a vegetarian or vegan, they are a source of protein that doesn't require the consumption of animals or animal products.

Overall, anyone can enjoy nuts, whether you're an avid carnivore or strictly vegan. They're easy to add to other foods and meals, and they can be used in anything from breakfast to dessert, making them one of the most versatile sources of protein.

Most nuts are also a good source of nutrients like vitamin E and zinc, as well as a source of healthy fats that lower cholesterol and blood pressure. This means that eating nuts can help you protect your heart and keep you healthier well into old age.

They are nutrient dense however, so if you're on a diet you will need to take this into account before you decide to eat too many of them. In this case, the best thing to do is to substitute your unhealthy snacks for a handful of nuts.

3. Yogurt

Yogurt is one of the best foods in general without even taking its protein content into account. The fact that it is also one of the best sources of protein just adds to the benefits of eating yogurt every day.

The benefits of yogurt begin with its digestibility. Yogurt is one of the easiest foods to digest because it's already partially digested by the beneficial bacteria within. This makes it easy on the stomach and the probiotics in yogurt help to ward of stomach infections, improve your digestive system, and prevent you from feeling bloated.

It is also high in many different nutrients like calcium, vitamin B12, zinc, magnesium, and phosphorous, many of which aid bone formation in conjunction with calcium. This means that yogurt is not only high in protein for your muscles, but also high in bone-building nutrients that strengthen your bones.

Yogurt gets even better when you add nuts and fresh berries to it. Adding nuts increases the protein content whilst also adding in beneficial fats and more vitamins and minerals, whilst berries like blueberries add even more vitamins, antioxidants, and can even help reduce your risk of cancer or fat gain. It even keeps you feeling fuller and more satisfied for longer due to its low GI. All of this makes yogurt a great healthy source of protein.

2. Eggs

No list of the best sources of protein is complete without mentioning eggs. Whilst eggs don't have the highest quantity of protein on this list, they are an incredibly healthy food which helps benefit your body in many different ways in conjunction with the high quality protein they offer.

Eggs are high in a lot of different nutrients including vitamin A, zinc, iron, and B vitamins. Of particular note however is the abundance of selenium that is present in eggs. Selenium is a trace nutrient that is required for a healthy immune system. Getting enough selenium in your diet helps ward off illnesses and keeps you feeling and looking healthier.

They are also a highly versatile food. Not only can you use them in cooking baked foods, sauces, and the preparation of other foods, you can also cook them in a variety of different ways by boiling, frying, or poaching. Add eggs to your favourite recipes and you can increase both the protein content of your meals as well as the vitamin and mineral content.

1. Whey protein

Whey protein is the king of protein, and with good reason. It is the same high quality as egg protein, easily digestible, highly bioavailable, and can be consumed in the form of drinks or even added to baked foods.

As a protein source, whey is high in all the essential amino acids, as well as high in calcium. When added to milk in the form of a whey protein shake, this further increases the vitamin and mineral content, as well as the amount of protein.

It is also completely natural and doesn't go through any form of chemical processing like soy or other forms of protein powder; the purification process is purely physical. Peptides present in the protein powder even have their own unique benefits for your health and can help reduce inflammation, cholesterol, and even boost muscle growth beyond the effect of protein itself.

All of this makes whey protein the absolute best source of protein, with no real parallel. Whey protein isolate, the most concentrated form of whey, 'weighs' in at approximately 95 percent protein, making it the easiest way to add extra protein to your diet without added fat or carbohydrates.

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