Choosing Complete Proteins

Updated: Aug 30, 2021

Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. None of the information on this site is intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. All information contained on this site is for educational purposes only and are not intended to replace the advice of a medical doctor. Stacy Mal is not a doctor and does not give medical advice, prescribe medication, or diagnose illness. Stacy is a certified health coach, journalist, and independent Plexus ambassador. These are her personal beliefs and are not the beliefs of Plexus Worldwide or any other named professional. If you have a medical condition or health concern, it is advised that you see your physician immediately. It is also recommended that you consult your doctor before implementing any new health strategy or taking any new supplements. Results may vary.


Excerpt taken from Rebuilding Your Temple: Blueprints for True and Lasting Health by Stacy Mal


Protein as I said, is made up of amino acids. There are 20 amino acids found in the foods we need. Nine of these are called “essential amino acids” because the body NEEDS them. Just like essential fatty acids, the body cannot make these on its own, so it’s “essential” that we get them from our food. (The technical names of these nine essential amino acids are: histidine, valine, isoleucine, leucine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, methionine, and lysine.)


If a food contains all nine of these essential amino acids, it’s called a “complete” protein. Complete proteins are things like dairy, chicken, beef, fish, and eggs. Foods that do not have all nine essential amino acids are called “incomplete” proteins. These are things like grains, beans, nuts, and seeds. These are NOT “bad” proteins; they are just not complete, meaning they do not contain all of the amino acids that we need.


Some incomplete proteins may contain some essential amino acids but do not have all nine. Or perhaps they have other “nonessential amino acids” (these are not “essential” to consume because our body can make them on its own).


So, when we talk about how important protein is, it’s important to choose the best protein, which is a complete protein. Or, at the very least, you should make sure you are consuming foods that contain various essential amino acids, even if they don’t have all of them. Below is a list of the nine essential amino acids, what they help the body with, and what foods you can find them in. As you can see, complete proteins are important for many reasons.




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