Animal vs. vegetable protein

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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:47 pm
Your body creates protein from 13 building blocks called 'amino (uh-MEE-no) acids.' When you eat protein, whether from a T-bone steak or from a vegetarian source such as rice and beans, it's digested into the individual amino acids and reconstructed into the protein your body needs. The protein that comes from eating a T-bone steak is exactly the same quality as the protein that comes from the rice and beans. Although steak and other red meat are a good source of iron, when you eat a steak, you're also consuming excessive saturated fat and cholesterol. This raises your blood cholesterol level, which can clogs up your heart's arteries. In addition, the iron in meat is an oxidant, which causes cholesterol to be more easily deposited in your arteries. The iron found in vegetables such as spinach, is in a form that doesn't act as an oxidant. The nutrition you receive when you eat meat comes from the plants that the animals at the bottom of the food chain have eaten. Vegetables and vegetable products contain virtually no cholesterol, are low in saturated fat and are high in antioxidants. Diets that exclude animal protein have been shown to result in lower rates of diseases such as heart disease and cancer and, in some cases, even to reverse them. If you do eat meat, try to stick to the leanest cuts, and bake or broil, rather than fry or prepare with oils. You also may want to consider substituting some soy products in your meals.
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