Protein is good for your muscles, reduces hunger pangs, boosts body metabolism, helps your body repair from injury and is an important source of essential amino acids and minerals, including iron. “Protein is a key part of any healthy diet” explains dietician Nicole Dynan, an Accredited Sports Dietician and Spokesperson of Dieticians Australia. “You need protein for healthy muscles, skin, bones and hair. It’s also used by your body to make hormones and enzymes that power many functions in your body.”
There are many great vegetarian recipes and vegan recipes around now, so it’s not hard to eat less meat. But should you? Should you eat animal proteins or choose recipes based on plant proteins? And since we are asking questions – how do you know you are getting enough protein? Or eating too much of it?
“The evidence shows the source of the protein you eat is more important than the amount of protein you eat,” says Nicole. “It is healthy to eat less red meat and processed proteins such as hamburgers and sausage. Instead, try to eat protein from fish, poultry, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds.” Here are protein-rich and heart-healthy recipes to try.
Gastroenterologist Dr Pran Yoganathan says he reminds his patients to eat protein at every meal for optimal health. “Animal-based proteins are full of nutrients. Milk, fish, eggs and dairy help us meet our nutrient requirements for essential micronutrients such as iron, calcium, vitamin B12, zinc and omega 3 fats.”
In SIngapore, it’s thought 22 per cent of non-pregnant women aged 15-49 have anaemia. In the younger age group, iron deficiency anaemia is more common in females than males – and it’s mainly due to excessive menstrual loss with inadequate iron replacement. Other recent studies show that nearly three-quarters of Singaporean women are iron deficient in the early third trimester of pregnancy. So it’s clearly important to eat enough iron-rich food like protein.