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News Room: ENQUIRER: Get enough protein - it's essential

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By: Toni Schklar

Protein is essential for growth and development. It provides the body with energy and is needed for the manufacturing of hormones, antibodies, enzymes and tissues.

The body breaks protein down into amino acids, the building blocks of all proteins. Amino acids are either essential or non-essential.

  • Essential proteins have to come from the diet because the body cannot make them.
  • Non-essential proteins do not have to come from the diet because they can be created by the body from other amino acids.

Whenever the body makes a protein (ex: when it builds muscle) it needs a variety of amino acids for the protein making process.

How much protein is needed?
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), it is recommended that 10 to 35 percent of daily calories come from protein. Below is the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for protein for different age groups.

Age Grams of Protein per Day

  • Children ages 1-3: 13
  • Children ages 4-8: 19
  • Children ages 9-13: 34
  • Girls ages 14-18: 46
  • Boys ages 14-18: 52
  • Women ages 19-70+: 46
  • Men ages 19-70+: 56

How to get protein in the diet:
In the United States, meat, fish and poultry are the most commonly eaten sources of protein. However, animal protein is often higher in fat than other sources of protein and can contribute to cholesterol problems over time. Following are some non-animal protein rich foods.

Non-Animal Source of Protein Grams of Protein

  • Tempeh, 1 Cup = 41 Grams
  • Cooked Lentils (a type of bean), 1 Cup = 18 Grams
  • Dry Beans, 1 Cup = 16 Grams
  • Chickpeas (ex. Hummus), 1 Cup = 12 Grams
  • Quinoa, 1 Cup = 11 Grams
  • Yogurt, 8 Ounces = 11 Grams
  • Boiled Peas, 1 Cup = 9 Grams
  • Tofu, 4 Ounces = 9 Grams
  • Peanut Butter, 2 Tablespoons = 8 Grams
  • Milk, 1 Cup = 8 Grams
  • Oats, 1 Cup = 7 Grams
  • Spinach, 1 Cup = 7 Grams
  • Soy Milk, 1 Cup = 5 Grams
  • Kale, 1 Cup = 5 Grams
  • Whole Wheat Bread, 2 Slices = 5 Grams (on average)
  • Broccoli, 1 Cup = 4 Grams
  • Avocado, 1 Cup = 2-3 Grams
  • Additional sources: coconut milk, brown rice, kale, cauliflower, mushrooms, parsley, cucumbers, green
    pepper, cabbage, nuts and seeds, milk products and eggs.

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