Complete vs Incomplete Proteins
Proteins are macromolecules which perform many important functions in our body. As they are highly diverse, these proteins carry out many different functions in our body including enzyme catalysis, defensive, transport, supportive, motion, and regulatory. Twenty different amino acids are used as building blocks, to make huge protein molecules. Generally the amino acid sequence and the chemical nature of their side chain (R- group) determine the primary structure, size, shape, and the length of each protein molecule; hence each protein is unique in our body. The amino acids that occur in the proteins can be categorized into two, namely, essential and non-essential amino acids. The non-essential amino acids can be produced in the body itself while the essential amino acids must be obtained via foods; thus they cannot be produced by the body itself. It is essential to take protein rich foods in order to obtain all the essential amino acids needed to maintain the most important functions of the body. Both animal and plant food products contain the proteins. To obtain all the essential amino acids, we may need to take a combination of above mentioned foods. This is because each and every food type may or may not have the proteins which contain all the amino acids in it. The terms ‘complete’ and ‘incomplete’ are often used to categorize protein sources.
Some foods contain proteins with all the essential amino acids required for the body. These proteins are called complete proteins. Fish, meat, poultry, and blood like many animal products contain the complete proteins. Soy is unique, and it is the only plant product which provides the full profile essential amino acids in high amounts.
The protein that lacks one or more essential amino acids is referred to as ‘incomplete protein’. Cheese, milk, cereal grains, and legumes like plant products contain the incomplete proteins. Foods with the incomplete protein, when eaten in combination, for example, milk and beans can provide all the essential amino acids required for the body.
What is the difference between Complete and Incomplete Protein?
• All the nine essential amino acids are present in the complete proteins while the incomplete proteins lack one or more of the nine essential amino acids.
• Many animal products contain the complete proteins whereas all the plants contain the incomplete proteins (except Soy).
• One animal product alone can provide all the essential amino acids. In contrast, all the essential amino acids can be obtained by consuming a variety of plant products.