Protein is one of the most crucial nutrients in the human body. A little bit of protein can go a long way in improving varying aspects of your health, the term ‘’ complete protein’’ refers to amino acids which are the building blocks for proteins.
There are 20 different types of amino acids that can form a protein, 9 of which the human body cannot produce on its own. The amino acids are called essential amino acids. In order to be considered a complete protein, it must contain all 9 of these essential amino acids in roughly the same proportions. These essential amino acids are histidine, isoleucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.
Let us look at what each of the essential amino acids does and where to find it.
- Leucine- this one of the best essential amino acids for stimulating muscle strength as well as growth. It is also referred to as a brand-chain amino acid (BCAA). It helps regulate blood sugar by moderating insulin in the body during and after exercise and can help stress and depression by the way it acts on neurotransmitters in the brain.
Plant based sources are seaweed, pumpkins, peas, whole grains, rice, sesame seeds, watercress, turnip greens, soy, sunflower, kidney beans, apples etc.
- Isoleucine- this is an example of a BCAA. It is an isolated form of leucine that specifically helps the body produce energy and haemoglobin. It is also vital in assisting nitrogen growth within the muscle cells.
Plant based sources for isoleucine are, rye, soy, cashew, almonds, oats, lentils, beans, brown rice, cabbage, hemp seeds, chia seeds, spinach, pumpkins, sunflower, sesame, quinoa grain, apples, kiwi fruit etc.
- Valine- this is yet another form of a BCAA which helps in in the optimal muscle repair and growth. It is responsible for endurance and overall maintenance of good muscle health.
Plant based sources include; beans, spinach, legumes, broccoli, sesame seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, soy, peanuts, whole grain, figs, avocado, apples, oranges, apricots, cranberries and blue berries etc.
- Lysine- the amino responsible for proper growth and the production of carnitine. It helps absorb calcium and aids in collagen production.
Plant based sources include; beans, watercress, hemp seeds, chia seeds, spirulina, parsley, avocado, soy, almonds, cashews, lentils and chickpeas.