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Soy Protein: The 'complete' protein

Posted Mar 02 2010 5:45am

As most fitness enthusiasts and most folks who got through school know, proteins are responsible for growth as they comprise 75% of body solids, therefore building more muscle while reducing the amount of fat in your body. And we all know how important that is, especially for those who consider working out much more than a routine and much closer to a passion.

However, if one digs a little deeper, one will find that the reason why protein is so important for the body is because of the essential amino acids (which the body cannot produce) that are produced when it comes into contact with enzymes during digestion. Now, it is imperative that the body obtains these nine essential amino acids from nutrition as it cannot be produced by the body itself.

And this brings us to dietary sources of protein that should be a combination of animal and plant protein to really make a difference, such as eggs, nuts, legumes, grains, meats and dairy products as well. As studies have shown that sufficient protein intake occurs in maintaining a diet that comprises these foods.

Interestingly, a method known as the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) helps us determine protein quality based both on the amino acid requirements as well as their ability to digest it. On a scale of 1 being the highest and 0 being the lowest, milk, eggs, beef and soybeans rank the highest on this list, and since we’ve already discussed the first three protein sources, let’s look at soy protein.

Soy Protein – Source and Preparation
Just as the name indicates, soy protein comes from the oilseed, popularly known as soybean in the United States. Due to its high nutrition value in protein, soybeans (which are unhealthy, if eaten raw) are processed into its most common products such as soy meal, soy milk, soy flour, Tofu, tempeh, soy meat and soy oil while also used in foods such as salad dressing, cheese, breakfast cereal, pasta, bread and so on and so forth.

However, soy protein (in its purest form) is produced in three ways: soy isolate (with almost 90% protein content), soy concentrate (70% protein content) and soy flour (50 % protein content) and is used in the aforementioned products above.

How is it different from regular protein?

Apart from the fact that protein is protein regardless of its source, the most significant scientific discovery made recently is that soy protein is a source of ‘complete protein’ because it provides all the essential amino acids that the body requires. This works very well for those who follow a strict vegetarian diet, as they are forbidden for whatever reason to avoid meat which is a source of animal protein.

So, when you come to think of it, there is no difference except for the fact that it is one of the highest sources of protein known to man.

In Closing
For all its benefits, soy protein can also effect our body in negative ways if too much is consumed on a daily basis, so one should be cognizant of these side effects before making extreme changes.

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