Difference between Plant Protein and Animal Protein
Protein is one of the most important parts of the diet, and when the subject comes up, the differences between animal protein and plant protein are often up for contention. In this comparison article, we take a look at the key differences and similarities between each type of protein.
Where You Can Get Them
Plant protein comes from a variety of plant foods such as beans, nuts, grains and various other vegetables and fruits. Animal protein on the other hand comes from lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy products.
Plant proteins have the benefit of containing no cholesterol and saturated fats unlike animal protein. In general, people who get their protein from plant sources are less likely to suffer from blood pressure and heart related diseases. Plant proteins are also good sources of beta-carotene, fiber, vitamins C and E, folate, iron, magnesium and calcium, and they can lower blood cholesterol, as well as reduce the risk of incurring certain diseases. And of course, plants in general are good sources of other minerals, vitamins and antioxidants.
Animal proteins do have the advantage of containing more amino acids. In fact, animal protein is considered the best type of protein, since all the amino acids are present. While soy protein does have most of the amino acids, it still lacks methionine. This is one reason why vegetarians benefit from getting their plant protein from a variety of vegetable sources, using a practice that is known as protein combining or protein complementing.
The main drawback of plant protein is the absence of certain important elements found in animal protein. Even the best plant proteins lack essential amino acids such as leucine, methionine and lysine.
Animal proteins are generally better quality proteins than their plant derived counterparts, although they do have drawbacks of their own. For one thing, ingesting large amounts of animal protein typically means ingesting large amounts of fat and cholesterol as well. This has the effect of increasing the levels of low-density lipoprotein or LDL cholesterol as well as the total blood cholesterol in the body. This in turn increases the risk of obesity, which leads to a whole host of health problems such as atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease.
Animal protein also produces acidic by-products when they are digested, and these by-products contain high levels of phosphorous. If the liver and the kidneys are unable to handle the levels of acidic by-products, liver and urinary system problems may result.
Similarities and Differences
- Comes from a variety of plant foods such as beans, nuts, grains and various other vegetables and fruits
- Containing no cholesterol and saturated fats
- Good sources of Beta-carotene, fiber, Vitamins C and E, folate, iron, magnesium and calcium
- Comes from lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy products
- Considered the best type of protein, since all the amino acids are present
- Produces acidic by-products when they are digested