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Good Sources of Complete /Incomplete Protein in Diet for Optimum Nutritional Health - Foods Containing Protein

Best Food Sources of Protein

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Good Dietary Sources of Protein

High Quality Protein - Complete vs. Incomplete

Not all proteins are equally beneficial or nutritious. High quality protein tends to come from animal food sources, such as meat, fish, eggs and dairy products. This is because animals have similar combinations of amino acids, therefore our body assimilates these proteins more efficiently. Another term for high quality protein is complete protein - meaning, a protein that contains good amounts of all essential amino acids. By contrast, incomplete protein, does not contain all amino acids. Plants (except for soy beans) generally contain incomplete protein. A protein that is low in one or more amino acids is also called limiting protein. See Protein RDA, Health Benefits

Examples of Complete and Incomplete Protein Foods

An egg is considered the highest quality, most complete protein. It contains all essential amino acids.

Incomplete or Limiting
Rice contains incomplete protein as it is low in the essential amino acid lysine.

How to Enhance Protein Value

A food containing incomplete protein may be 'completed' by eating it along with another food which contains sufficient amounts of the essential amino acid which the first food lacks. As long as our diet includes regular amounts of complementary proteins (eg. food containing essential amino acid No 4 but lacking essential amino acid No 7, plus food containing essential amino acid No 7 but lacking essential amino acid No 4), they don't actually have to be eaten as part of the same meal.

Sources of Complete Protein

Foods containing high quality complete protein include:

- Eggs
- Quinoa
- Fish (eg. tuna, cod, salmon)
- Oysters
- Beef
- Yogurt
- Cheddar or cottage cheese
- Whole milk (dairy)
- Soybean foods (eg. tofu)
- Chicken

Sources of Incomplete Protein

Foods containing incomplete protein include:

- Dry beans
- Rice
- Pumpkin or sunflower seeds
- Lentils
- Peas
- Nuts

Nutrition Resources About Protein

Recommended Daily Allowance
Health & Weight Benefits

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