How to choose the best protein for children

How to choose the best protein for children

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As parents, we always seek the best for our children in every possible way. Its correct feeding becomes, therefore, one of our priorities.

It is widely known that the diet should contain vitamins and minerals, in addition to macronutrients, proteins, fats and carbohydrates. We can find proteins in a multitude of foods, both of animal and vegetable origin, which ones should we choose for our children? What foods provide children with protein?

The biological value of proteins is as important or more important than the amount of protein itself.This value is used to define the percentage of the absorbed protein that is used by our body, varying between 0 and 1, with 1 being the totally usable protein, and 0 being the one that is not used at all.

Usually, proteins from foods of animal origin have a higher biological value than plant-based proteins because their amino acid composition is more similar to human body proteins, that is, they contain an amino acid profile similar to the proteins that the body needs. For example, proteins from eggs have a biological value of approximately 0.9 - an absorption efficiency of 90% - while those from meat and fish can range between 0.75 and 0.8. The biological value of wheat protein is 0.6, that of chickpeas 0.65, and that of lentils even poorer, less than 0.45.

But how do you choose the best protein for children? When a varied diet is offered that includes foods of animal and vegetable origin (including an ovo-lacto-vegetarian diet), it is very likely that the protein that is being offered is of high biological value. Nevertheless, if you opt for a strict vegetarian or vegan diet, the limiting amount of amino acids makes the protein of inferior quality.

To achieve an amino acid contribution more similar to the proteins of the body, food combinations can be made. When two protein-containing foods with different limiting amino acids are consumed in the same meal, the amino acid of one protein can compensate for the deficiency of the other, resulting in a protein of higher biological value.

Legumes and cereals are the best known combination since they complement each other perfectly. Legumes lack methionine, cystine and tryptophan, which are found in large amounts in cereals, while these in turn lack lysine, which is in legumes.

Other combinations that improve the biological value can be:

- Cereals, vegetables and nuts such as rice or pasta salad with walnuts or pine nuts.

- Legumes and nuts / seeds, such as humus.

- Cereals and nuts / seeds, such as pesto pasta.

Of course, they do not necessarily have to be eaten in the same dish, but can also be eaten in two different ones, such as a pasta dish with vegetables and some nuts for dessert.

You can read more articles similar to How to choose the best protein for children, in the Infant Nutrition On-Site category.