Most Americans Get Enough Protein in Their Diet | Food

In my recent article, the title incorrectly said that we can use more protein in our diet. However, as the article states, almost all Americans get enough protein or more than they need in their diet.

Protein is an essential nutrient, which means it is essential for human health. Along with carbohydrates and fats, protein is one of the three nutrients that provide calories in the human diet. Proteins perform many other functions as well, including those that make up skin, hair, muscle and bone, and those that act as enzymes to facilitate chemical reactions in the body.

More necessary proteins are made by the human body using amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. Nine of the amino acids are called “essential” because they cannot be made and must come from the diet. A “complete” dietary protein is a protein in which all the essential amino acids are found, mainly from foods of animal origin such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products.

Others are “incomplete”, lacking one or more of the nine essential amino acids. Plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds are usually incomplete.

The amino acids in rice and beans “complement” each other.

However, we can eat foods in which the amino acids complement each other. When you eat these foods together, they provide all of the essential amino acids. Examples are bread with peanut butter, rice and beans, corn and beans, bean soup and crackers, hummus (chickpeas and tahini, or sesame seed paste).

In general, combining grains with legumes or nuts with seeds provides complete protein.

Most people in Western countries consume far more protein than they need, usually from animal foods. Vegans, who avoid all animal foods, need to be a little more aware of the protein quality in the foods they eat in order to get all the complete protein needed for health.

TASTE edamame

Edamame, a popular form of soy.

Even if you’re not vegan, it may be a good idea to add protein from plant foods, which contain less fat and saturated fat, as well as a variety of other nutrients, than original foods. animal. Soy is a complete plant protein and is also a good source of healthy fats and phytochemicals (plant chemicals that may be good for you). It is usually served as tempeh or tofu, and soy milk is a popular milk substitute. Edamame, a green soybean usually served in its husk, is another popular form of soy. Lesser-known plant sources of complete protein include amaranth, quinoa, hemp seeds, and chia.


Ellen Glovsky is a Key Biscayne resident, published author, and registered dietitian and nutrition coach. Her work aims to help people explore and improve their relationship with food, using a “Health At Every Size” approach. She is also involved in the island community with her work on KBCF’s Women’s Giving Circle. If you have any questions you would like answered, you can reach her at For more information, visit


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