What do people mean when they say a food isn’t a “complete” protein? I.e. quinoa

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What do people mean when they say a food isn’t a “complete” protein? I.e. quinoa

In: Biology

4 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

There are several essential amino acids that we need but our body can’t produce (histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine). So we need to eat them. A food that has some but not all of them is called an *incomplete protein* because we would need to eat it along with another food which has the missing amino acids in order to receive all of the essential amino acids in our diet.

It’s basically marketing fluff for foods like meat (which are *complete proteins* because they contain all 9 essential amino acids) as a way of implying superiority over vegetarian protein sources.

It’s easy to combine two *incomplete proteins* so that together you are taking in all of the essential amoino acids. Here’s some examples:

* Rice and beans

* Peanut butter sandwich

* Hummus and Pita

* Lentils and Barley soup

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