Animal proteins, vegetable proteins: are they equivalent?

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Animal proteins, vegetable proteins: are they equivalent?


Protein, what is it?

A protein, whether of animal, plant or bacterial origin, is a chain made up of twenty amino acids. Some of these amino acids are said to be essential for our body because it is unable to synthesize them on its own in sufficient quantities. These amino acids must be provided by food.

Our body then uses them during digestion for the synthesis of its own proteins, which enter the composition of cells, tissues, organs, but also enzymes, antibodies, hormones, neurotransmitters …

Essential amino acids: tryptophan, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, valine, leucine, isoleucine, histidine.

Animal and vegetable proteins… What is the difference?

Proteins are found in foods of animal origin (meat, fish, eggs, cheeses, etc.) or of vegetable origin (cereals, legumes, oil seeds), but their nutritional value is not equivalent.

Animal proteins provide the body with a more complete protein supply than vegetable proteins because they contain all the amino acids the body needs. However, they are richer in lipids, which can cause cholesterol.

Source: ANSES

Vegetable proteins are less rich in amino acids: they lack lysine for cereals and methionine for legumes. In the case of a vegetarian diet, tofu and tempeh (fermented soybean paste) are good alternatives to meat because they are excellent sources of protein. To avoid deficiencies, it is important to combine cereals and legumes: semolina + chickpeas, corn + red beans + rice, quinoa / oats + tofu …

The combination of grains and legumes provides better digestion. Richer in complex carbohydrates and fiber, these proteins facilitate digestive comfort, reduce the risk of overweight or cardiovascular disease. If the quantities are sufficient and with good association, there will be no shortage.

What are our protein needs?

According to ANSES data, an adult needs 0.83 g / kg / day of protein. A 60 kg person should therefore consume between 50 and 60 g of protein per day. With age, however, we eat less, it is more difficult to digest and we are more quickly deficient. For the elderly, especially those suffering from malnutrition, it is recommended to increase the protein doses between 1.2g and 1.5g / kg / day, i.e. consume between 70g and 90g.

If it is important not to fall below these figures in order not to be lacking, also be careful not to exceed them. Beyond 2 g / kg / day, the nitrogen contained in proteins becomes toxic to the kidneys which eliminate them.

Protein per 100 g



canned tuna

31 g


65 g

Red meat

26 g

Raw soy

35 g

Canned sardines

26 g

Hemp seeds

30 g

Chicken breast

22 g

Dried parsley

29 g


19 g

Peanut butter

25 g


13 g

Pumpkin seeds

25 g

White fromage

7 g

red beans

22 g


22 g


18.5 g


15 g


15 g


14 g


13 g

cooked pasta

12 g


11.5 g

Cooked lentils

10 g


9 g


3.5 g

Thanks to Mireille Etienne, dietician and nutritionist at SOS Nutrition.

Read also:

What are the 3 foods richest in plant proteins?

Dietary. What proteins to cut down on meat?

Cooking: how to replace butter and fresh cream in my dishes?

Cooking: how to replace eggs in my pastries?

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