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Meat vs. Veggie – Where Does Your Protein Come From?

What’s Protein Anyway?

Protein is an essential nutrient along with carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and water. Proteins are large molecules that are composed of smaller units called amino acids. Proteins are found in every part of your body… skin, muscles, hair, blood, internal organs, bone, fingernails, nerves etc.

How Much Protein Do You Need?

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) is 0.8 mg/kg body weight. This means that a 120-pound woman needs about 44 grams per day, and a 150-pound male needs about 55 grams per day. It may surprise you that even on a purely vegetarian diet, you can get enough protein easily.

Just look at the mighty elephant, the horse, or the gorilla. They eat virtually no animal protein and are healthy with incredibly strong muscles and bones. Can you get an adequate amount of protein from vegetable sources? Let’s see…

Protein Content In Common Plant-Based Food

  • One banana = 1.2 g
  • One cup cooked brown rice = 4.7 g
  • One corn on the cob = 4.2 g
  • One baked potato = 3.9 g
  • One cup of pasta = 7.3 g
  • Two slices of whole-wheat bread = 4.8 g
  • One cup of frozen peas = 9.0 g
  • One cup of cooked lentils = 16.0 g
  • One cup of tofu = 18.0 g
  • One cup frozen broccoli = 5.8 g
  • One cup of cooked spinach = 5.4 g

From the above list, it would be easy to come up with a menu that would easily reach the RDA of protein and be low in calories. This way of eating promotes superior health, while keeping you fit and trim.

Meat vs. Veggie – Comparing Sources of Protein

So if you look at the comparison, the broccoli wins the contest. By far. If you do the comparison based on calories, green veggies always win! Incredibly, the veggie also has tons more vitamins, minerals, fiber, phytochemicals and antioxidants! On the other hand, the sirloin has more fat.

If you want superior health, you need to make veggies the main part of your food intake. If you want to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight go for the veggies. For a healthy source of protein, I’d recommend veggies over meat any day.

Now, if you were struggling for survival on a deserted island it would be a different story. You would benefit from the high concentration of calories, fat and protein in a lump of meat. I’d advise going for the steak. It just may take some work catching the cow.

For more information, I highly recommend reading Eat to Live, by Dr. Joel Fuhrman to all my patients.

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2 comments

1 Adele Hite, MPH RD { 04.08.13 at 8:47 pm }

Please take a closer look at Joel Furhman’s reference for this information. You’ll see that, although he wrote his book in 2005, his reference is from 1986. Perhaps you could explain to me why he didn’t use a more up-to-date source, like the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service’s Nutrient Data Laboratory database, which says that 100 calories of steak has 11.08 grams of protein and 100 calories of chopped, raw broccoli has 8.29. I’m also wondering why he didn’t bother to explain some of the other, finer points of this issue, such as essential amino acid requirements.

A 275-calorie portion of steak (4 ounces) comes very close to meeting all the daily essential amino acid requirements for an adult. A 277-calorie portion of broccoli—that’s 9 ¼ cups of broccoli—meets none of these requirements. It would take around 18 cups of broccoli to get even close.

Many different dietary approaches can meet essential nutritional needs; there is no one diet that is right for everyone. But perpetuating misinformation doesn’t help people find the way that is right for them. http://wp.me/p29Lnc-dk

2 Dr. Ken { 05.28.13 at 10:00 am }

I hear you and understand your point. Perhaps the source data has changed a bit since the reference from 1986, but the root of the problem isn’t there. It’s in the myth that is pushed in America that we all need a lot of protein to be healthy. Just ask the typical American how much protein they should have each day. Most won’t know the recommended amount, but they believe they should have a lot.

Meat sources of protein contain a great deal of calories in the form of fat… not to mention toxins (pesticides & herbicides) stored in the fat.

In addition, animal protein has been linked with cancer formation and growth (see The China Study, by T. Colin Campbell PHD).

And although it’s true that it’s easier to get your daily requirement of protein from meat, vegetable sources of protein are healthier and safer.

Dr. Furhman was not proposing that everyone should eat 18 cups of broccoli each day. He does promote a plant-based diet that is well balanced.

Please see http://www.diseaseproof.com/archives/news-usda-replaces-mypyramid-with-myplate.html.

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