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Know your proteins

Know your proteins

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Proteins are key building blocks of every living cell and are involved in almost every activity of the body.

Thursday, November 24th, 2016

During pregnancy, your body needs more proteins basically for:

  • Growth of your baby
  • Development of the placenta
  • Enlargement of the uterus and breasts
  • Increasing the blood volume in your body
  • Formation of amniotic fluid that is present in the uterus
  • Preparation of your body for labour, delivery and lactation

To fulfill your daily protein requirements, ensure that your main meals include either animal protein such as milk products, meat, fish and eggs or plant protein such as pulses, legumes, nuts and oilseeds.

So, what are proteins?

Proteins are like necklaces made from beads of different sizes and shapes. These beads are called amino acids. Your body needs amino acids to make various body proteins that are needed for normal functioning.Certain amino acids have to be obtained from proteins in your diet, as your body cannot make them. These are called essential amino acids.

So do all foods provide the same quality proteins? The answer is no..

Protein foods that contain all the essential amino acids are called complete protein or good quality proteins. Animal food sources are therefore, considered as good quality proteins. Whereas, vegetarian sources of protein (except for soya bean) lack some of the essential amino acids.

However, vegetarians do not despair!! Combining different kinds of foods can help you achieve good quality proteins. Cereals or millets when combined with pulses or legumes complement each other to provide good quality proteins.

So, how much protein do you need during pregnancy?

National Institute of Nutrition recommends that Indian pregnant women should consume 78 g of protein per day. Your protein requirements are especially high during the second and third trimesters.

You can increase your protein intake by:

  • Having a toast/chapathi with peanut butter, paneer/cheese spreads
  • Adding a scrambled egg/fish for lunch or dinner
  • Snacking on a handful of soy nuts/groundnuts
  • Adding kidney beans, chickpeas or low-fat cheese cubes to your salad
  • Having yoghurt or thick lassi as afternoon snacks
  • Drinking a glass of skimmed milk at bedtime

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