WHAT IS "PROTEIN QUALITY," AND DOES IT MATTER?
Protein is found in many different foods, including meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, soy products, quinoa, nuts, legumes, and seeds. While protein is made up of amino acids, the amino acid content of protein-containing food sources is not always the same. There are 20 amino acids, and nine of them are essential, which means our bodies cannot create them on their own. Thus, we must consume enough of these nine essential amino acids in our diet for our bodies to function optimally.
A complete protein contains all nine essential amino acids. Animal proteins like eggs, fish, and dairy are complete proteins, while many plant protein sources are incomplete because they do not contain all essential amino acids. However, this does not mean you can't meet your daily needs through plant sources. Consuming protein from various plant sources, like pea protein, nuts, and seeds, will help individuals who do not consume animal products meet their daily amino acid needs.