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World Protein Day: Indians Get Only 70 Per Cent Of Their Daily Need

Here's some protein-rich food options to ensure that you get enough of this building block of life

R Pitchiah | Feb 27, 2021

Protein builds and repairs tissues such as skin and muscles. Protein is needed to make antibodies that fight disease and enzymes for digestion. In countries like India it is real challenge to meet the protein requirements. Approximately 65-70% is only met amongst most of the Indians. If one is ill, and particularly experiencing weight loss, protein consumption may need to be increased.

Animal foods contain the eight amino acids needed to make new protein. Protein from plant foods, including beans, nuts, and grains, can contribute amino acids that complement each other to make proteins containing all the essential amino acids once they are consumed and digested. Sources of protein include eggs, meat, fish, poultry, milk, yogurt, cheese, beans, soybeans, and peanuts. Grain foods, such as bread, pasta, and cereal, can add up to become significant sources of protein.

All foods except refined sugar, oil and fats contain protein to varying degree.

  • Animal foods like meat, fish and egg are high in protein
  • Plant foods like pulses, oil seeds and nuts also are essential protein sources
  • Milk also can be classified under this category if due allowance is made for large amount of water in it. These foods contain over 20% protein.
  • Soybean is the richest source containing over 40% of protein.
  • Defatted oil seed cakes which contain 50-60% protein are rich source of protein.
  • In recent years, as a result of the use of improved technology of processing of these oil seeds, high quality deoiled cakes are available for human consumption also.
  • Cereals and millets are a moderate source of protein as they contain about 10% protein.
  • Rice contains a high level of essential amino acids needed for the body’s protein daily requirement
  • Leafy vegetables, fruits, roots, tubers are generally poor sources of protein as they contain less than 2% protein.

  • Grains: Most grains and starch have only 2 to 3% of protein per serving, but they accumulate to be a good protein source and can be combined with other foods to add protein. For example. toast topped with melted cheese and rice pudding made with milk, rice, and egg. Vegetables and fruit are not rich in protein or calories, but they can be combined with foods to add flavor and nutrition.
  • Milk: The best source of animal protein for growing children is milk. Milk also provides a good amount of calcium which is normally lacking in vegetarian diets. Skimmed milk is a rich source of protein as whole milk. Butter milk of good quality can also serve as a source of good quality protein.
  • Fortified milk: Mix 2 to 4 tablespoons nonfat dry milk with 1 cup whole milk, which boosts protein by 6 to 12 g per cup. 1 - Evaporated milk is twice as rich in protein and calories as fluid milk; use it in casseroles, baked goods, and cooked cereals
  • Eggs: Eggs also can be used as a source of good quality protein when ever possible. Scramble eggs into soup, pasta dishes, and mashed potatoes.
  • Fish: Fish also is a good source of protein whenever available and acceptable and should be included in the diet, particularly of older children and adults. In devising an inexpensive well balanced diet in India, economic considerations often preclude the inclusion of milk or other animal foods in adequate amounts.
  • Chicken: Chicken is highly important and an inevitable protein source. Topping the list in protein levels are eggs following which is Chicken which contains essential amino acids that cannot be synthesized by the body. Chicken can be consumed twice/ thrice a week by either grilling, baking or adding it to a gravy. The amino acids available in chicken will aid post-operative patients recover quickly, fasten wound healing, improve muscle development and for help with weight loss.

Also include cheese, eggnog, custard, yogurt, peanut butter, almond butter, dried beans, and peas. On a high-protein diet, Have 2 to 3 servings of protein-rich food daily.

  • Need to increase your protein intake? Try this:
  • Grains + Nuts (Peanut butter sandwich)
  • Nuts and vegetables ( almonds and green peas)
  • Vegetables and legumes ( minestrone soup)
  • Grains and vegetables ( barley and roasted vegetables)

  • Do you have lack of appetite? Try this:
  • Melt a slice of cheese on toast or crackers
  • Serve peanut butter instead of fruit jam on bread or fruit
  • Serve yogurt with fruit or make a fruit and yogurt drink
  • Snack on a hard boiled egg
  • Fortify liquid milk with 2 table spoon powdered milk.
  • Snack on sliced deli chicken and cheese roll-ups.

(The author is a Clinical Nutritionist at Fortis Malar Hospital)