Best protein: animals or plants? | Today’s Facts
Q.Does it matter if I get my protein from animal or plant sources? Also, how much do I really need per day?
Harvard University responds to this question. (You can get full acces to health news and information from Harvard Medical School for just 4.99 usd/month)
A. Older men need adequate protein to help build and maintain muscle, but not as much as you think. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines suggest a minimum of 10% of daily calories should come from protein. That’s about 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight, so a 175-pound man needs only 63 grams of protein a day.
Your body breaks down all protein into muscle-building amino acids. The food source does not matter. Still, where you get your protein can have an impact on other aspects of your health. Animal products contain some of the highest amounts of protein per serving. For instance, a 3.5-ounce serving of chicken has 31 grams of protein, a 3-ounce serving of 85% lean beef has 22 grams, and two eggs have about 12 grams.
But some animal sources, especially processed meat, also include high levels of saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium. Plant proteins might be healthier choices. Foods like beans and nuts can have from 4 to 17 grams per serving and also include many essential vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients.
Plant protein also may offer some long-term health benefits. A recent study from Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital looked at 170,000 people over 30 years and found that high intake of protein from animal sources was associated with a higher mortality rate, while a high intake of plant-based protein was linked with a lower risk of death during the study period.
—William Kormos, MD
Editor in Chief, Harvard Men’s Health Watch
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