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Old 02-06-2010, 01:00 PM   #1
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amino acids question

hey all. i have a question about amino acids in non-meats. i've been eating a lot less meat recently and feeling great. but i have a question about protein. i hear only a few plants have every amino acid....soy beans, quinoa, hemp seeds, and maybe a few others i can't think of at the moment.

the cereal i eat every morning has flax seed in it and so do these granola bars that i eat for snacks. so i was looking at the nutrition facts and noticed that it has every amino acid.

it looks like it has every amino acid. but you never heard about flax being one of those non-meat sources of amino acids. so is flax a complete protein (aka it has every amino acid)???

THEN i looked at navy beans, which i cook a lot with for dinner.

it has every amino acid except one, hydroxyproline, which i looked up and is made by the human body when it has vitamin C and proline, which navy beans has a bunch of. so hydroxyproline is considered a non-essential amino acid.

it seems like these plant sources get a bad rap for not having amino acids when it seems like ones that i eat a lot, like beans and seeds.

so what's the deal with amino acids? kind of a broad question, but it seems like many plant sources have all of amino acids you need, and if it is missing some, it seems to be amino acids that your body makes anyways.

anyone know more about this? thanks!!!

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Old 02-07-2010, 04:43 PM   #2
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Re: amino acids question

Hi jond1960, There is a book Diet for a Small Planet that describes amino acids quite well. It may not be in print any longer, though and/or there may be something published more recently. Because there is more to it than what most of us know.

In a nutshell, there are all kinds of amino acids. Some are manufactured by the body (and thus dubbed non-essential amino acids) and some must be obtained from food sources (essential amino acids). So, it is the essential amino acids that are of concern to us.

The eight essential amino acids needed by adults must be eaten in certain proportions in order for the body to be able to assimilate them and use them to build proteins for the body. (It used to be believed that the "eight" needed to be eaten at the same time in order for the body to use any of them, but it is now generally agreed that if you eat the "eight" throughout the day you body will be able to use them.)

It is not entirely accurate to say that some foods are "missing" essential amino acids. Actually, most foods that contain protein do contain all the essential amino acids, but there is so little of one or more of them that the body cannot assimilate most of the protein. (This is the case with most plant foods.) A more accurate way to look at it would be to list the percentage of the protein that can be assimilated from any particularly food. The highest is chicken eggs - healthy humans can assimilate about 98 percent of the protein in eggs because the proportion of the amino acids allows most to be used by the human body. I cannot find any info online offhand that lists more percentages, but the protein even in meat, which is considered a "complete" protein, is in proportions so that only about 60-something percent is used. (I believe anything above about 60 is considered a "complete" protein.) So, even the so-called "complete" proteins are not completely available to the human body.

With plant foods, while one or more amino acid may be in small quantity, another plant food may have excess of that(those) amino acids. So if two foods are eaten together, more of the protein can be assimilated. Funny enough , many traditional food combinations accomplish exactly this; for example, corn and beans, rice and beans, peanut butter and crackers (is that traditional?) and others.

I have never noticed amino acids on nutritional labels (though I have not paid attention), so I cannot comment about that. But my understanding is that the amount of protein listed on nutritional labels does NOT take into consideration that all the protein in that one food might not be assimilated completely because the balance of essential amino acids is not correct.

 
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Old 02-07-2010, 07:14 PM   #3
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Re: amino acids question

From what I can tell, the "protein" amount in the Nutrition Facts box in US food labels is for "complete" proteins. For example, a packet of plain gelatin (6 grams) may list 25 calories, but 0g of fat, carbohydrate, and protein. Where do the calories come from? Answer is 6g of protein that is missing the essential amino acid tryptophan and therefore not included in the "protein" amount on the label.

 
Old 02-08-2010, 06:43 AM   #4
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Re: amino acids question

You're right!

 
Old 02-09-2010, 05:20 PM   #5
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Re: amino acids question

There are roughly 20 aminos and no food contains all of them. Eggs are probably the closest to a perfect protein as you can get. Each protein is rated by either the BV (biological value) or the PDCAA (protein digestibility corrected amino acid score) Whey and Casein proteins are the best.

Last edited by mod-anon; 02-09-2010 at 09:57 PM. Reason: Please use the Quick Reply button instead of Quote Reply.

 
Old 02-20-2010, 04:53 PM   #6
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Re: amino acids question

Quote:
Originally Posted by jond1960 View Post
. . . .

the cereal i eat every morning has flax seed in it and so do these granola bars that i eat for snacks. . . . .
Chuck that cereal! One should never consume whole flax seeds and even if it is ground, the processing, packaging, marketing, and storing of that cereal makes it inevitable that it oxidized months ago and can actually do harm to your body.

If you want the benefits of flax seed, make your own oil at home or grind it up in a coffee grinder just before serving it.

(Sorry for the tangent, all, I have a need for flax seed in my diet and so have read a great deal on this subject.)

 
Old 03-25-2010, 02:55 PM   #7
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Re: amino acids question

The most complete source of (usable?) protein (better than chicken eggs) is mother's milk. I believe it's rated at 100 percent. I hope I got that right. I saw a list of protein foods in a book and mother's milk was at the top of the list.

 
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