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Difference Between Plant Protein and Animal Protein

vegetables-healthyPlant Protein vs Animal Protein

Foods are essential requirements for the human body to function and continue its processes. In this regard, there are three major food groups to consider and they are the GO, GROW and GLOW foods. The major area of concentration nevertheless is on the GROW foods. As the term implies, these are the protein food sources that the body needs for it to ‘grow.’ It’s no wonder why protein foods are regarded as ‘body builders.’ But do you know that one can get his or her daily requirement of proteins from various sources? May it be from plants or animals, protein is still protein; although they only differ in some key aspects.

Fruit-eaters, vegetable-eaters and vegetarians alike all share the same concern, ‘can I get the same proteins my body needs without eating meat products?’ Well, the answer is a big YES! Proteins too can be harnessed from many plant sources. Even if you’re a vegetarian, you can have alternative protein sources from plant products. The trick is, plant proteins are said to contain almost the same protein value like the ones coming from animals. More so, plants are regarded as excellent sources of a plethora of vitamins, minerals, fibers and antioxidants that no animal source can match.

In general, plant proteins have no cholesterol and fat (saturated fats) as opposed to animal sources. That’s why if you are going to compare a person who is taking his proteins from plants to the one who consumes proteins from animal sources; you would expect the latter to easily have diseases related to the heart and blood pressure. Plant proteins also have more Beta-carotene, dietary fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, folate, Iron, Magnesium and Calcium.

Animal proteins only have the upper hand on the number of amino acids present. Animal sources are said to be the best proteins because they have a complete set of amino acids. Although there is one plant protein (soy) that is more or less complete, still plant proteins are dubbed as incomplete proteins because even soy products lack methionine. In this connection, vegetarians are always asked to have a diet of mixed vegetable protein sources so as to complement the deficiency in some essential amino acid.

Summary:
1.Plant proteins have less cholesterol and fat compared to animal proteins.
2.Plant proteins have more vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants compared to animal proteins.
3.Plant proteins are the incomplete proteins whereas animal proteins are said to be the complete proteins.


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15 Comments

  1. The myth that plant proteins are “incomplete” and must be eaten in conjunction with each other to be “complete” (like you have to eat grains and beans and vegetables together) has been completely debunked. Plant proteins are complete proteins.

    You should also change the part that says “plant protein have less cholesterol than animal proteins” – this is also untrue because animals are the only source of cholesterol. Cholesterol does not exist in any plant. So the statement should read “plant proteins have no cholesterol”. Thanks!

    • Here is a great paper detailed all of the peer-reviewed medical studies that verify that plant proteins are “complete” proteins. http://www.pcrm.org/health/PDFs/faq_protein.pdf

      • We get so mired in this argument that we miss the big picture. Humans are omnivores, not herbivores.

        We have a relatively short digestive tract, and we have only one stomach, not four. Therefore, we do not have the ability that an herbivore does, to capture all the nutrients we need for optimum health and maintain healthy gut flora merely on plants alone.

        I am a nutritional therapist and have been involved in the health and fitness industry for more than 20 years. I have seen a pattern of behavior that consistently produces disease and destruction of the human body and that seems to be rooted in one truth: we disrespect our body’s natural design and our body’s innate intelligence.

        I often use the analogy of the high-performance car.
        Let’s say you have a beautiful brand new Maserati. Would you put cheap unleaded gas in that car? No. Would you put jet fuel in it? No although you might want to. Would you use a cheap Costco brand oil? How about heating oil? No and no. The fact is you would get out the Owner’s Manual and you would find out EXACTLY what kind of fuel and gas that beautiful car needed if you wanted that car to run long and well!

        Oh it might run on the cheap gas and oil. After all, oil is oil! Gas is gas! As long as there is “grease” in the bearings and the moving parts and as long as the engine fires up and moves, who cares! right? Wrong. Anyone who has had the experience of putting the wrong gas in a car knows what I’m talking about. The engine starts to “ping”, engine power is diminished, and the car sputters and stalls. Eventually serious damage and engine failure occurs. Human bodies are no different, and are also extremely more complex.

        Why do we insist on making things so difficult? We are the only animal that does that. You don’t see cows or birds trying to change their diets to something “better”. Left to themselves, they just eat what they are naturally designed to eat. Early man did the same thing. He knew he needed and liked meat and hunted for his meals. He also gathered from the vegetation around him. There was and still is not any food he cannot have and should not eliminate! To do so is to neglect stimulation of that aspect of his digestive system which, over long-term, produces a deficiency which, if not corrected in a timely fashion, leads to disease.

        As a nutritional therapist I see so much digestive dysfunction due to lack of healthy stomach secretion. There are a few reasons why a stomach does not produce healthy HCl and one of them is because it is not stimulated to do so! There is no equivalent to animal-based dietary protein that stimulates good healthy acid production in the stomach. To not do so puts the body in jeopardy of contracting parasites, bacterias, prions and the like which is a nightmare to correct and takes a very long time. We are seeing more parasitic dysbiosis in the U.S. than ever and among all people… not just those who have traveled overseas.

        So that’s it folks. Like it or not. We didn’t design our bodies – God did (or whatever you personally believe is our origin). In order for us to be optimally healthy, other living things have to die – whether it’s a carrot or a cow. But, we can work with the natural world and our bodies with wisdom and respect for them, or not. If not, then we suffer the consequences and they are all around us.
        Again.. we are exquisitely created omnivores. Not herbivores. Work with it and live.

        • Agree with most points, except that God designed our bodies. Nope! We are reliant on meat because of our ancestors, who evolved from apes over millions of years. Humans have the largest brain in relation to body size among all animals. This large brain is very expensive to maintain and requires 25% of the total calories we consume. We came to develop this unique brain because roughly 4 million years ago, thick woodlands in Africa gave way to sparse grasslands and savannas. Our ape-like ancestors were forced to climb down from trees and forage for food on the open grasslands. Fruits and plant food, they were reliant on, became sparse. This led them to consuming meat. Meat has way more calories than plant food. Consuming more calories spurred our brain development. Later on, around 1.5 million years ago, our ancestors discovered fire and thereby started cooking meat. This helped in digesting meat better and it released even more nutrition. As a result our brain size exploded and enabled us to conquer the planet. It’s this history that made us omnivores (eating both planst & animals). As we became omnivorous over the course of millions of years, we also became reliant on meat-protein and the essential amino acids it supplies. We also developed unique ways to digest and extract nutrition from meat. Any attempt by vegans to totally avoid meat consumption is unnatural and therefore is beset with problems, especially if there are young children in a vegan family. It’s just not the way we evolved into humans from apes.

      • Dear Katharine,
        I can not reach the article by link you provided. Can you publish working link?

    • what matters here is not wither plant protein is complete or not. Although plants have almost all protein needed for human body, some plants lack amino acid which is needed to digest protein. but if (some body) is a vegan and wants to obtain all the protein his body needs from plants only, then the only way to achieve that is by mixing many types of plants, by doing so, the body will have enough aminoacid from some plants to digest proteins that can not be digested from other plants.
      Another thing, some plants are high sources of cholestrole. such as, i suppose, sunflower seeds, nuts, and soybeans.
      excuse my week english.

  2. Now, the difference between plant protein and animal proteins are as follows. 1. Plant proteins have less cholesterol and fat compared to animal protein. 2. Plant proteins have more vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants compared to animal proteins. 3. Plant proteins are the incomplete protein whereas animal proteins are said to be complete proteins

  3. sorry Katherine your research is wrong plant proteins with the exception of soy are incomplete proteins and are poor proteins due to the fact that plant proteins are wrapped in cellulose which the human body can’t digest. and the other problem with soy is it s a know goitrogen and if eaten in large quantities like as a protein source can actually slow down or even stop the thyroid from functioning. and the fact they have no cholesterol well thats a warning for a start the human body and brain requires fats and cholesterol in order to function properly. in fact a study of over 5000 people showed the mortality rate to be higher in people with low cholesterol. in fact a humans sex hormones are built from cholesterol. and you raw veg eating people sorry to break this to you the human body does not process raw veg very well there is a reason we learnt to cook our food. in fact many raw vegetables are also known goitrogens and require cooking to make the goitrogenic properties of them inactive. that and the fact that raw fruit and veg is the number one cause of botchalism. the fact is a diet of just plants is not very nutritious that is why herbivorous animals have to spend their whole day eating just to get enough nutrients from their diet

    • Steve, where you and the others got this information, that protein in cooked plants (forget about grass) is wrapped in cellulose and is undigested? I searched on the net and there is no scientific proof of it. Then, you are wrong about botulism. Read this article http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Botchalism
      To judge about amino-acid composition of a particular food I advise you to use web site http://nutritiondata.self.com/ Learn, how to use it and end this debate.

      • Dmirty, Steve is absolutely correct. There is plenty of research supporting that plant based proteins are bound to cellulose, which works like fiber in the human digestive tract. I’ve often heard vegens use the analogy that “if gorillas only eat vegetables and are muscular, then so should humans”. What you have to understand is that herbivores have longer digestive tracts, but also have a symbiotic relationship with a stomach bacteria, which secretes an enzyme to enable herbivores to breakdown the cellulose and absorb plant-based proteins. Unfortunately humans do not possess this bacteria therefore we are unable to absorb plant-based proteins. Additionally any studies which suggest that vegetarian or vegan people weigh less and are healthier is also flawed. Vegetarian or vegan’s tend to weigh less however what is not pointed out in the vast majority of studies is that their body fat percentages are also relatively high when compared to their lean body mass.

        • Dear JD,
          Could you give me few links to those “plenty studies” about poor digestibility of cellulose wrapped plant protein in human digestive tract from cooked food? I cannot find even one! Otherwise it is a pointless discussion.

        • You can ask question “What is percent digestibility of plant protein?” here http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_percent_digestibility_of_plant_protein
          The answer is 70-90%
          In relation of most animal proteins it is 90-99%. So the plant protein is less digestible, but this difference is not catastrophic. Some protein from plant and animal sources have same digestibility – 90%. So, why you making big problem from nothing? You write about the cellulose as it is on the way of digestion, but it is not meant to be digested, only bulk the feces, provide environment for friendly bacteria, and brush the intestine. Do not panic, vegetarians and vegans, you are save enough if you eat wise. And what to eat is personal choice, based on personal experience and knowledge that is always limited. People, study yourself and live in peace.

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