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Exposing the Best Source of Protein Myth
An American culture that is marked by a chronic lack of time and the need to achieve is often in pursuit of the "best" something or other. These "best" lists tend to improve time efficiency they help people make quick decisions without a lot of research or "trial and error".
However, as with most inventions, there is a potentially harmful application of these very popular "best" lists. There are situations where the need to identify the best of something obscures the real truth that, quite simply, there is no single best ranking. In other words, the best of something is in reality a combination of many things. Within the world of nutrition, there arguably is not a more clear - and dangerous - expression of this truth then in looking at protein.
The world of nutrition is not short on "best" opinions for sources of protein. Some camps lobby in favor of whey protein as the best, while others advocate soy. Some claim that meat and poultry are the best source of protein, while others swear that a plant-based item such as spirulina ranks at the top. There are so many opinions - each one claiming to support the best source of protein - that consumers are often left less informed after reading a few of them, rather than more educated.
One of the reasons that the search for the best source of protein is so widespread is because of its critical importance within a healthy diet. All bodily functions are aided, directly or indirectly, by protein. In addition to being an essential energy source, protein is a component of every body cell, and among other vital contributions, helps in the creation, maintenance, and repair of muscle tissue[i].
Furthermore, it is widely accepted - regardless of view on the "best" source of protein - that a complete source of protein is required by all people, regardless of athleticism or mobility. This complete source of protein must reflect all 20 different amino acids that comprise protein. Since the body can only create 12 of them through its own synthetic production capacity, 8 amino acids - called "essential amino acids" -- must be obtained through diet[ii].
This is where the confusion ultimately lies, and the root cause of the ongoing confusion. Various groups claim that certain specific food sources, such as whey, milk protein, or calcium caseinate, respectively, is the single best source of protein. Surprisingly, however, a growing body of research is suggesting that that all of these views are incorrect. Rather, a variety of protein sources is proving to be the best.
Unfortunately, accessing this variety of protein sources is a challenge for many consumers. Unless a consumer is very well versed in nutrition, possibly to the point of being considered an expert, he or she cannot confidently know if the variety of proteins are being eaten in any particular meal.
Furthermore, some sources of protein - such as fast food burgers - may indeed contain a desired amount of essential amino acids, but the excessively high amount of calories, unsaturated fats, carbohydrates, and other unwanted elements make them a thoroughly unwise eating choice [iii].
The goal - one that has been sought for decades -- is therefore to identify a food source that provides consumers with a healthy, convenient, inexpensive, appetizing, and complete source of protein.
Fortunately, despite significant delays in bringing a worthy product to the consumer marketplace - delays due to the scientifically pointless search for the single best source of protein -- there are some innovative nutritional supplements that are achieving this goal. These products offer consumers a complete amino acid profile derived from a combined mix of protein sources. Some of these evolved products - albeit a very limited number of them -- are even able to meet the other consumer criterion: convenience, affordability, palatability, low-calorie, and high nutritional (e.g. vitamin enriched) content.
American health dialogue will continue to be populated with "best" lists, and in many ways, these lists are quite useful timesaving devices. However, there are obvious situations where the relentless pursuit of the "best" of something can actually cause more harm than good when there is, in fact, no "best" of something to speak of. In the world of protein and diet, this is clearly the case: there is no single best source of protein. Only a balanced mix of protein sources will achieve the goal of delivering the body's critical protein requirements. Fortunately, more nutrition experts are starting to acknowledge this scientific truth, and it is a trend towards intelligent health that is expected to continue.
Founded in 2001, Protica, Inc. is a nutritional research firm with offices in Lafayette Hill and Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. Protica manufactures capsulized foods, including Profect, a compact, hypoallergenic, ready-to-drink protein beverage containing zero carbohydrates and zero fat. Information on Protica is available at www.protica.com. You can also learn about Profect at www.profect.com.
 Calcium caseinate is created via the acidification of skim milk.
[i] Source: "Protein in Diet". DiscoveryHealth.com. http://health.discovery.com/encyclopedias/1931.html
[ii] Source: "Essential Amino Acid". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essential_amino_acid
[iii] Source: "Supersized Nation: Bigger Burgers Still Rule". WebMD. http://my.webmd.com/content/article/98/104952.htm?action=related_link
Copyright 2004 - Protica Research - http://www.protica.com
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