Ingredient Stories: Complete Sources of Plant Proteins
When it comes to living well, you’ll often hear about the importance of protein; but what is a high-quality and complete source of protein, and how do plant proteins compare to animal proteins? Jill Conrod and Ediola Ymeri, Sperri’s Dietitian Team, are here to help you understand sources of plant proteins, including Sperri's unique blend of pea and hemp protein, and their health benefits.
Protein is an essential macronutrient, meaning it must be consumed through diet or what you eat. Protein not only helps to build strong muscles, but it also helps build body tissue, repair body tissue and builds antibodies to strengthen and protect the immune system.
The Building Blocks of Protein – Amino Acids
Protein is composed of amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. There are 20 amino acids in total; 9 are essential, meaning these nine essential amino acids must be consumed through diet. The other 11 are considered non-essential amino acids because the body can convert or make these non-essential amino acids.
Sources of High-Quality and Complete Protein
Protein quality is a term used to describe the amounts of essential amino acids within a protein source. For example, casein (a milk protein) is considered high-quality because it contains high values of all nine essential amino acids. Corn is considered a low-quality protein source because it contains very low amounts of two essential amino acids, making it an incomplete protein. All foods have different levels of amino acids and, therefore, different levels of protein quality.
There are many sources of high-quality proteins, including meat, fish, eggs, soy, cheese, yogurt, peas, beans and tofu. Typically, animal protein sources such as meat, eggs and dairy products contain high levels of all the essential amino acids, making them high-quality protein sources; however, they also have additional saturated fats.
The carbon footprint of pea protein is significantly lower than milk protein when the production of raw ingredients is compared side-by-side.
Many people are choosing plant proteins more often to lower their consumption of animal products. Plant proteins, such as pea, soy, hemp and seeds, contain carbohydrates, fats and fibre in addition to protein. Plant foods are great for overall health and sustainability; however, plant protein sources are only sometimes as high-quality as animal proteins.
The best way to ensure your plant proteins are complete and high-quality is to pair multiple protein sources together to ensure you are getting all of the essential amino acids you need for optimal health.
Sperri includes two protein sources—pea and hemp protein. Pea protein contains all nine essential amino acids; however, one essential amino acid, methionine, is lower in pea protein. We pair pea protein with hemp protein, which contains higher levels of methionine. Combining these two proteins makes Sperri a complete protein source for optimal health.
The Benefits of Plant Proteins
Choosing plant proteins more often can provide extra fibre, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. Animal proteins do not contain any dietary fibre. Additionally, pea and hemp proteins contain unsaturated fats that can help reduce cholesterol levels, making them heart-healthy options. Pea and hemp proteins are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Pea protein has a similar BCAA (Branched Chain Amino Acid) profile to animal protein, making it an excellent alternative for those seeking muscle growth. Animal proteins are known for easy digestion and absorption compared to plant-based proteins. However, pea and hemp proteins specifically are easily digested, making them optimal for absorption.
Protein is essential for optimal health and well-being. If you are concerned you need more protein, Sperri is a great way to get 16g of high-quality plant protein along with other essential nutrients to provide complete nutrition. Our team of dietitians and physicians ensure our products offer optimal nutrition, and we are here to answer any questions!