Proteins help the body repair cells and tissues. Not only that, but they are also a great source of energy while aiding digestion and building muscles, skin, cartilage, and bones, says Mugdha Pradhan, nutritionist, and founder, ThriveFNC. “Hence, the importance of having the right amount and kind of protein cannot be stressed enough,” she adds.
However, with so many protein options available, the inherent question that comes to almost everyone’s mind is — what is the best source of protein for humans?
“Despite the differing schools of thought and contrasting opinions, facts indicate that animal protein clocks the highest bioavailability factor, well ahead of plant proteins. This means that animal proteins are the most easily assimilated and digestible form of protein for human beings,” Pradhan tells indianexpress.com.
However, it cannot be denied that often sources of animal proteins such as meat, fish, and poultry are contaminated with antibiotics, artificial hormones, and chemicals that have dire effects on human health in the long run. “The unregulated mass-rearing of animals raised especially for their meat is a cause of global concern as it is unsustainable over the long term,” adds Pradhan.
“Not only that,” she continues, “but fish and poultry farms often use illegal practices like hormone and antibiotic injections to raise better-looking stock. Ingesting meat saturated with these additives can have very serious health consequences.”
“But, conclusive research indicates that a diet with saturated fat is quite good for you and red meat happens to contain all the nutrients required by the human body. Opposed to popular opinion, red meat can help you burn fat since it has ample amounts of stearic acid, which signals the body to burn more fat,” explains Pradhan.
While chicken happens to be an excellent source of protein, overconsumption can lead to insulin resistance and obesity since it is rich in linoleic acid. “However, dark chicken meat is rich in vitamin K2 and chicken skin contains collagen which is good for the body. External parts like bones, necks and feet can be used to make excellent collagen-rich bone broth,” explains the founder.
Finally, when it comes to seafood and freshwater fish, they are an excellent source of protein but the heavy metal content of these fish can be quite toxic if consumed in large quantities. “Most seawater fish contain metals like mercury and arsenic and should be avoided. Wild salmon can be consumed a few times a week but not very regularly. If you consume fish on a regular basis, monitoring your blood for metal particles is advisable,” says Pradhan.