Proteins are found in both animal and plant foods (Table 6-1). The animal food sources provide the highest quality of complete proteins. They include meats, fish, poultry, eggs, milk, and cheese.
Despite the high biologic value of proteins from animal food sources, they also provide saturated fats and cholesterol. Consequently, complete proteins should be carefully selected from low-fat animal foods such as fish, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products. Whole eggs should be limited to two or three a week if hyperlipidemia is a problem.
Proteins found in plant foods are incomplete proteins and are of a lower biologic quality than those found in animal foods. Even so, plant foods are important sources of protein. Examples of plant foods containing protein are corn, grains, nuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and legumes such as soy-beans, navy beans, pinto beans, split peas, chickpeas, and peanuts.
Plant proteins can be used to produce textured soy protein and tofu, also called analogues. Meat alternatives (analogues) made from soybeans contain soy protein and other ingredients mixed together to simulate various kinds of meat. Meat alternatives may be canned, dried, or frozen. Analogues are excel-lent sources of protein, iron, and B vitamins.
Tofu is a soft cheeselike food made from soy milk. Tofu is a bland product that easily absorbs the flavors of other ingredients with which it is cooked. Tofu is rich in high-quality proteins and B vitamins, and it is low in sodium. Textured soy protein and tofu are both economical and nutritious meat replacements.
Because of their inclusion of either dairy products and eggs or dairy prod-ucts alone, most individuals who follow lacto-ovo vegetarian or lacto-vegetarian diets will be able to meet their protein requirements through a balanced diet that includes milk and milk products, enriched grains, nuts, and legumes. Strict veg-etarians who consume no animal products will need to be more careful to include other protein-rich food sources such as soybeans, soy milk, and tofu.