Protein – Meaning, 3 functions and 4 sources


Protein – Meaning,3 functions and 4 sources


Food is essential to the growth of man. The food we eat contains nutrients. These nutrients are known as a balanced diet and the constitute that we call the six classes of food. They include carbohydrate, protein, fats and oils, mineral salt and water. They all work hand in hand to the development of the body.

What are proteins?

Proteins are foods that build up the body. They contribute greatly to the growth and development of the body. At the growing, a child needs protein enriched food so that growth and development can take place. The end product of protein is an amino acid.

The amino acid is made up of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen and sulphur. Deficiency in protein leads to kwashiorkor. Kwashiorkor is the poor growth and development due to lack of protein.

Functions of protein

Protein performs various functions in the body. They include:

  1. Protein helps in the growth and repair of worn-out tissues. Protein food when digested by the body repairs worn-out tissues.
  2. Protein helps the body’s tissue to perform their functions well.
  3. Protein supplies energy to the body because each protein taken into the body contains four calories per gram. Calories are the unit of energy. It is the energy people get from the food and drink they consume.

Sources of Protein

Protein can be gotten from both plant and animals. Therefore, there are two sources of protein. They are plants source of protein and animal source of protein. Plant source of protein is obtained from plants. Examples are:

  1. Beans are the commonest source of protein in this part of the world. It is very high in protein. There are various types of protein. They are locust beans, brown beans, white beans, iron beans, red beans, honey beans, soya beans and lentils. Beans are usually cooked and eaten as porridge, beans cake (Akara) and Moi Moi. Soya beans are usually processed into milk. A glass of soya beans milk gives energy to the body.
  2. Melon seed is popularly known as egusi in Nigeria. It belongs to the watermelon family. It is rich in protein aside fat and oil. It is usually cultivated for its seed. It can be prepared as soup or cake.
  3. Mushroom: The protein content in mushroom is high. They grow on the soil and on the tree as well. They have 3.1 gram of protein. It can be used in making pepper soup. It is important to know that some species of mushroom are not edible.
  4. Nuts: Nuts at the fruit that have a hard shell and a seed in it. Although, not all the nuts have a hard shell. They are rich in protein. They can be eaten raw(almond nuts). Examples of nuts are groundnut (boiled and fried), cashew nuts(roasted), walnuts, peanuts, hazel but, pine but, macadamia nut and coconut( eaten raw and used in cooking food).

Animal source of protein: These are protein found in animals.

  1. Meat: Almost all the meat are rich in protein. One is goat meat which is rich in protein. It can be boiled, fried or roasted. Varieties of a goat are Maradi or Red Sokoto goat, African Dwarf goat, Saanen goat and Anglo Nubian goat among others. Others are beef(cow), pork (pig), bush meat, etc.
  2. Egg: This is one of the most nutritious sources of animal protein. The white part of the egg is nutritious. And the egg yolk contains vitamins, mineral salt and antioxidants. There are different types of eggs depending on the bird that produces it. They include chicken egg, guinea fowl egg and they can be eaten or fried.
  3. Snails are another source of protein. They are shelly in nature. They are land snails and sea snails; both have protein in large numbers. It contains 15% protein. In Nigeria, there are commonly two types of land snail. The brown and white snail; although some people do not eat white snail.
  4. Milk is also one of the most highly nutritious sources of animal protein. They are rich in amino acid. Milk can be gotten from cow and goat. But goat milk is more nutritious than cow milk (nunu).
  5. Seafood: Sea foods are rich in protein. They are crabs, crayfishes, shrimps, lobsters, prawns. Fish – salmon, sardine, shark, hemming, trout, haddock, flounder and catfish.


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