How Plant Protein Differs from Animal Protein

Animal Protein: Is it Bad For You?

It’s not just humans who are concerned about the amount of meat consumption. Many animals are raised for food and some even suffer from health problems due to eating too much meat. Animals have been used as food since prehistoric times, but today there is a growing concern over their well being because they’re fed a diet high in fat, salt, sugar and other unhealthy ingredients.

The World Health Organization (WHO) states that saturated fats are linked to heart disease, while trans fats increase your risk of developing diabetes. They say that red meat causes cancer and recommends limiting intake to no more than 150 grams per week. Meat consumption has increased in recent years with the growth of processed meats like bacon, hot dogs and sausage.

These foods contain nitrates which can cause lung damage if inhaled or ingested.

Meat consumption has also been linked to certain types of cancers such as colorectal, pancreatic, prostate and liver. According to the American Cancer Society, processed meat increases your risk of colon cancer by 22 percent. Reducing your meat intake may reduce these risks.

Eating fish instead of beef or pork may lower your cancer risk too.

There are plant-based alternatives to meat, eggs and dairy which can lower your risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes without the related health risks. People who eat a plant-based diet are less likely to suffer from obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes. They also tend to have a lower carbon footprint and consume fewer resources than meat eaters.

The more people choose vegan options, the better it is for the planet.

Plant Protein vs Animal Protein

Plant protein and animal protein are two of the five main sources of nutrients which are essential to human survival. The other three are carbohydrates, fats and vitamins and minerals. Our bodies need all five but can survive without carbohydrates, whereas without any one of the others we will die.

The main difference between plant and animal protein is one is composed of proteins which contain carbon, the other of those which contain nitrogen. Carbohydrates, fats and vitamins and minerals all fall under the carbohydrate banner.

Proteins are compounds which contain nitrogen and are composed of one or more long chains of amino acids. There are twenty different types of amino acid, nine of which the body cannot produce itself and therefore must be obtained from food. These are known as essential amino acids.

Different foods contain different types of amino acids, which is why a varied diet is recommended. Proteins are found in animal flesh, fish, eggs, beans, nuts, legumes, grains and dairy products.

How Plant Protein Differs from Animal Protein - at GYMFITWORKOUT

Plant protein is more likely to be made up of incomplete chains of amino acids, known as peptides. These must be broken down by the stomach acids and enzymes in order to be used by the body. This process is known as hydrolyzation.

Eating carbohydrates with proteins helps this process because carbohydrates increase the production of gastric juices in the stomach.

Plant protein is also composed of long chains of complex sugars, such as cellulose and hemicellulose. The human digestive tract is unable to break these down, meaning the body can only use them to a small degree.

Protein Composition

The composition of animal and plant proteins makes them very different. Most animal proteins are made up of long chains of amino acids which are very easy for the body to break down and use. This is why meat contains lots of protein but relatively little carbohydrates and fat.

There is no fiber in meat because the animal has no digestion system. The main protein found in meat is called collagen, followed by elastin and lastly muscle glycogen. Collagen is especially high in the animal bones and skin.

Most plant proteins are made up of long chains of amino acids, but they cannot be used by the body unless they undergo a process known as hydrolyzation. During this process, the peptide bonds which link the amino acids together need to be broken down using water in an environment with an excess of HCL. This is only found in the stomach.

The speed at which food passes through the stomach depends on how well it is broken down.

Sources & references used in this article:

Plant protein and animal proteins: do they differentially affect cardiovascular disease risk? by CK Richter, AC Skulas-Ray, CM Champagne… – Advances in …, 2015 – academic.oup.com

Selection of AUG initiation codons differs in plants and animals. by HA Lütcke, KC Chow, FS Mickel, KA Moss… – The EMBO …, 1987 – embopress.org

Plant glutathione peroxidases by Y Eshdat, D Holland, Z Faltin… – Physiologia …, 1997 – Wiley Online Library

Type III protein secretion systems in bacterial pathogens of animals and plants by CJ Hueck – Microbiology and molecular biology reviews, 1998 – Am Soc Microbiol