Protein seems to have hit the spotlight recently as the ‘staple must have’ of our daily diets – of course, it has always been recommended to us in dietary guidelines but only recently have people realised how important it is! Often people associate protein with ‘bulking up’ at the gym, but it really does do so much more, we promise! Here are our top reasons for loving protein:
You feel fuller for longer.
Protein takes longer to digest than carbohydrates or fats, therefore you feel more satisfied and less likely to go back for seconds!
It stops sugar highs.
Pairing protein with carbohydrates helps to slow the absorption of sugar from your stomach into your bloodstream. Therefore no sugar highs, sugar cravings or sugar crashes!
Protein promotes muscle & tissue repair and growth.
Protein is made up of ‘building blocks’ called amino acids that help to build and repair tissues such as skeletal muscle, bone, hair, finger and toe nails, cartilage and skin.
Protein-rich foods are also good sources of vitamins and minerals.
For example meat and poultry are good sources of vitamin B12, iron and zinc (aim for lean cuts). Fish contains omega 3 fatty acids (which play a role in the function of our nervous system including brain function). Pulses and beans also contain fibre, which means you have a healthy bowel.
Protein requires more energy to digest.
Known as the ‘thermic effect of food’ (TEF), it refers to the energy we use to digest our foods. Protein has a higher TEF than carbs and fat, so you need more energy to process protein, which means we actually burn more calories to do this.
So in which foods can you find proteins? Proteins are found in a variety of foods: meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs, nuts, seeds, soya and even grains. Meat, fish and poultry contain very high levels of protein and are usually considered the most popular sources.
Needless to say, if you’re a protein lover, adding fresh and flavoursome herbs to your proteins is a great way of adding flavour, without adding sugars and salts. Herbs like basil (our herb of the month), mint and parsley pair particularly well with proteins.
For example, the Chicken, Pea and Basil Linguine featured in our Recipe of the Day blog, contains 37g of protein. But, you can also find plant-based protein sources in the likes of lentils, beans and pulses, or in grains such as quinoa. Interestingly, the UN are so keen for people to realise how powerful pulses are as a protein source, that they’ve declared 2016 the year of the pulses! If you like lentils and you’d like to up your protein intake, our Lentil, Roasted Beetroot and Parsley salad is quick, easy and very Herbilicious to boot!
For more inspiration for meals that are high in protein, read our blog here or follow us on Facebook and Twitter where we’ll be sharing our favourite recipes that include a powerful protein in them every day.