Which is best?
by Dakota Decker
Every living cell within every plant, animal, and insect contains molecules of protein. There are 25,000 different proteins encoded within the human genome alone. But when most people talk about “protein” they are referring to the amino acids that form chains within the human body to create skeletal muscle.
The human body can create most of these amino acids on its own. However, there are nine that scientists have said cannot be created by an adult human body, and thus they must be ingested.
The nine essential amino acids needed for human skeletal muscle are: valine, leucine, isoleucine, phenylananine, threonine, methionine, lysine, histidine and tryptophan. When a food contains all of these, it is said to be a "complete protein." Almost every food, including almost every plant food, contains all nine of these amino acids. There is no need to combine foods to get a complete protein. That is why experts say that plant foods will provide you with plenty of protein, as long as you ingest enough calories.
MYTH BUSTED: CERTAIN VEGAN FOODS ARE INCOMPLETE PROTEINS
The next time you are concerned about the nutrient content of a food that you eat, there is no need to listen to hearsay, you can check it out for yourself on the USDA Nutrient Database. Just like we prefer peer-reviewed articles written by experts for our scientific information, this database provides information from scientists that has been reviewed by a board of experts. There is no other database with this much searchable information on food nutrients in the world. It is not a vegan site, so we avoid controversy of those who claim that we vegans will say anything about science to save the animals. The American government, after all, is not known for being biased to vegan causes.The URL is http://ndb.nal.usda.gov. Just enter the name of the food and when the profile comes up, click on “Full Report (All Nutrients)” to get amino acids to come up. Scroll down and you will see that they are all there with almost any food you research.
Here is a screenshot of the page on black beans. We chose this food item as an example because the food combiners have so frequently said that one must combine beans with rice to get all nine amino acids. As you can see, this is not true. They are all there:
SO WHAT IS THE BEST SOURCE OF PROTEIN FOR THE HUMAN BODY?
Plant foods not only contain protein, but they also contain fiber (animal products contain no fiber) and hundreds of antioxidant compounds (animal products are short on antioxidants) that prevent every sort of disease and provide for optimal health. Animal products also contain cholesterol (plant foods contain no cholesterol), something most people have too much of. Lipitor is the most prescribed drug in the world. Heart disease is well known to be caused by arteries clogged with excess cholesterol. Heart disease is the number one lethal disease in the world. Whole foods (unprocessed fruits and vegetables) are the most nutrient-rich foods for the human body, preferably organic. (Why mess up a good thing with pesticides and GMOs?) For more information on the benefits of whole foods as well as best sources of protein, we look to the most respected source of information on protein today, Dr. T. Colin Campbell. Dr. Campbell is the best selling author of The China Study and Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition. He is the head of the Nutrition Department and Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University and is renowned as the world’s greatest nutrition researcher, ever. He has been studying protein for decades and has published more papers in respected journals and been on more government and university panels that research the subject than anyone in the world. He is also the founder of the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutritional Studies, which continues to publish important papers on nutrition.
He grew up on a dairy farm and began his career doing experiments on animals regarding protein with the aim of finding the best source of protein for livestock. He then moved into researching the most efficient sources of protein for humans, seeking to help solve world hunger. To say that he did not start out as a vegan with an agenda to save animals is an understatement. However, his research led him to uncover facts regarding animal protein versus plant protein. He found that when they fed lab animals casein (the most abundant protein in cow’s milk) that cancer cells were activated and tumors grew. When they reduced or eliminated the casein, the tumors shrank and the cancer went into remission. He also observed humans in rural areas who were exposed to a potent carcinogen in peanuts called aflatoxin. He saw that the people who consumed diets that did not contain animal products did not get cancer, but their omnivore friends and family members did. After a great deal more experimentation, Campbell concluded that casein is “the most relevant chemical carcinogen ever discovered.” He also went on to discover through looking at the diets of the entire population of China that omnivores were at a much higher risk of contracting the most common diseases (heart disease, cancer, etc.) than those in rural areas who ate no animal products. Since then, numerous studies have been done that have shown over and over that meat consumption is correlated with higher incidences of the world’s most com-mon diseases and that vegans have much lower risks of all types of these diseases.*
WHAT ABOUT PROTEIN POWDERS? WHEY IS THE MOST POPULAR... IS IT BEST?
Whey is the most popular, the most advertised, and the most widely-available protein supplement. So what exactly is whey? Whey protein is the liquid material created as a by-product of cheese production. It is highly processed. It is what is left over when milk coagulates, the solids are extracted, it is filtered, spray dried and denatured in high heat. Concentrates of whey protein have a significant level of fat and cholesterol. So, whey isolates in protein powders are processed further to a predigested form. Fat and lactose are removed so that they will be less allergenic, and they are partially hydrolyzed. All of these processes are undertaken because so many people have problems digesting whey due to numerous harmful fatty acids that often cause cramps and bloating. (1)
The Gold Standard brand 100-percent Whey Isolate is the best-selling supplement on bodybuilding.com. Like most other brands of whey protein isolate, it has 30 grams of cholesterol. Another top seller, Cellucor’s Performance Whey, has 35 mg of cholesterol. Creamer is listed as an ingredient (vegetable oil and preservatives) and it also contains the artificial sweetener sucralose made from chlorinated sugar. (2) Take a look at the chart below and you will also see that whey protein powder is also very high in glutamic acid. Scientists have found that ingestion of high amounts glutamic acid “may play a role in neurological conditions of dietary aetiology, such as neurlathyrism and domoic acid intoxication…there is [also] some evidence for the existence of excitotoxic mechanisms in amyptrophic lateral sclerosis [ALS, aka Lou Gehrigs Disease].” (3)
SOY = THE OLD VEGAN STANDARD:
Patrik Baboumian, Germany’s strongest man and Guiness World Record Holder for strength, has stated that he utilizes soy protein powder, as well as tofu and whole soybeans in his diet. (4) Mr. Baboumian is a well-educated man (he is a Psychologist) and is well aware of the many benefits of soy for building muscle.
The soybean was one of the first foods to be highly utilized by vegans over the past few decades as our numbers grew and manufacturers looked for ways to satisfy our palates and give us high quality vegetable protein. It has been studied and repeatedly lauded as having amazing anti-cancer and anti-heart disease properties. But recently, soy has been victim to a very aggressive smear campaign (no doubt you've heard). But, if you ever doubt the safety or benefits of soy, we recommend the scientific research of Mark Messina (5, 6) who has studied the many health benefits of the soybean "when consumed in amounts consistent with Asian intake.”(6) That means you need to consume a lot to really reap its benefits. If you’ve ever been to Asia (or eaten at Asian restaurants) you know that edamame, tofu, soy-based mock meats and soymilk are ingested in large quantities many times a day. Asian countries have the lowest incidences of breast and reproductive cancer in the world according to the World Health Organization. (For more to quell your fears, visit VHFmag.com and read the article: Being a soy boy won’t make you a girlie man.)
I would also like to direct you to take a look at this chart. Soy has more of the coveted BCAAs (branched chain amino acids: valine, isoleucine and leucine) and more lysine (which fights viruses) than whey.
THE NEW VEGAN FAVORITES = BROWN RICE AND PEA PROTEINS:
These are two more great choices for complete plant-based proteins (they've got them all, as you can see on the chart). Brown rice and pea proteins are both easy to get in your daily diet. Rice is a staple in many cultures and goes great with almost any vegetable and even fruit. Peas are also very versatile as they taste great raw in the summer and provide com-forting nourishment in a soup in the winter. If you choose to use a brown rice and/or pea protein powder, manufacturers say it will be very easy to digest and free of allergic reactions. What more could you ask for?
*Protein Powder Section References:
- A. Doble, “Excitatory amino acid receptors and neurodegeneration.” Therapie (Dept of Biology, Rhone-Poulenc Rorer S.A., Vitry-sur-Seine, France) 1995, 50(4); 319-337.
- Messina, Mark. “Modern applications for an ancient bean: soybeans and the prevention and treatment of chronic
disease.” The Journal of nutrition 125.3 (1995): 567S-569S.
- Mark Messina, “Insights gained from 20 years of soy research.” Journal of Nutrition, Vol. 1, No. 12, December 2012,
*References that consumption of animal protein is correlated with higher incidents of cancer and that the vegan diet seems to be anti-carcinogenic:
- Thorogood M, Mann J, Appleby P, McPherson K. Risk of death from cancer and ischaemic heart disease in meat and non-meat eaters. Br Med J. 1994;308:1667-1670.
- Chang-Claude J, Frentzel-Beyme R, Eilber U. Mortality patterns of German vegetarians after 11 years of follow-up. Epidemiology. 1992;3:395-401.
- Barnard ND, Nicholson A, Howard JL. The medical costs attributable to meat consumption. Prev Med. 1995;24:646-655.
Norat T, Riboli E. Meat consumption and colorectal cancer: a review of epidemiologic evidence. Nutr Rev. 2001;59(2):37-47.
- Rose DP, Boyar AP, Wynder EL. International comparisons of mortality rates for cancer of the breast, ovary, prostate, and colon, and per capita food consumption. Cancer. 1986;58:2363-2371.
- De Stefani E, Ronco A, Mendilaharsu M, Guido-bono M, Deneo-Pellegrini H. Meat intake, hetero-cyclic amines, and risk of breast cancer: a case-control study in Uruguay. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 1997;6(8):573-581.
- Key TJ, Appleby PN, Spencer EA, et. al. Cancer incidence in British vegetarians. British Journal of Cancer. 2009;101:192–197.
- Phillips RL. Role of lifestyle and dietary habits in risk of cancer among Seventh-day Adventists. Cancer Res. 1975;35(suppl):3513-3522.