Energy

Dietary component Approximate amounts of the diet intake (% of total energy unless otherwise stated) General hints
Table 1: Source: Kumar Parveen and Clark Michael. Clinical Medicine, sixth edition 2005
Total carbohydrate 55 (55-75) Increase fruit, vegetables, beans, pasta, bread
Free sugar 10 (<10) Decrease sugary drinks
Protein 15 (10-15) Decrease read meat
Total fat 30 Increase vegetables (including olive oil) and fish oil and decrease animal fat
Saturated fat 10(15-30)
Unsaturated fat 20(<10)
Cholesterol < 300 (<300) mg/day Decrease meat and eggs
Salt < 6 (< 5) g/day Decrease prepared meats and do not add extra salt to food
Total dietary fibre 30 (> 25) g/day Increase fruit and vegetables and wholegrain food

Protein

It is recommended that 15% of your food should contain protein. A normal human being needs around 0.8 g per kg bodyweight e.g. a person weight 70kg should have around 56g protein every day. Protein also provides energy to the body, 1g provides 17 KJ (4 kcal).

Different types of protein

Protein occurs in both plants and animals, in different amounts. In the table you can see how much protein different products contain per 100g

Vegetable protein Per 100g Animal protein Per 100g
Soya flour 36.8g Skimmed milk product 36.0g
Soya beans 34.0g Cheese 10 % 34.5g
Pumpkin seeds 29.0g Tuna in water 26.0g
Yellow peas 26.5g Cheese 45 % 25.7g
Peanuts 26.4g Prawns 24.8g
Sunflower seeds 24.0g Mince meat/ lean 23.6g
Beans 22.3g Pheasant 23.6g
Walnut 15.3g Rabbit 22.2g
Porridge oats 10.4g Liver 22.2g
Wheat flour 9.5g Pork/ lean 20.0g
Rye bread 5.8g Eggs 15.8g
Potatoes 1.8g

Your body needs protein. Protein is built from 20 different amino acids, 9 of which are essential amino acids that your body can’t produce, they must be supplied by your diet. Your body needs the amino acids to build and repair your body and for growth.

The quality of a protein source is based on its level of these essential amino acids along with its digestibility and ability to be utilised by the body. So if a protein source provides all of the 9 essential amino acids in adequate amounts, it’s a very good protein source and is classified as a complex protein.

One way to evaluating protein quality is to determine the protein’s biological value (BV)12. The higher the BV is the better protein.

Food Biological value
In this table you can see biological value of selected protein sources.
Animal food: Milk, eggs, meat, etc. 0.75-.96
Legumes (beans/pulses) 0.65
Whole cereals 0.66

Examples of good complete proteins are fish, meat, dairy and poultry. Plant foods are a good source of protein, but grains and legumes especially often lack one or more of the essential amino acids (cereal and legume protein have low levels of lysine and tryptophan). The way you can turn plant protein into a complete protein sources (higher BV) is by combining them e.g. grains with legumes. When they are combined they complement each other, so that mixed plant protein diets exhibit much higher BV values and may be similar to animal proteins.

It’s important to combine different plant proteins, especially for vegans who exclude milk and eggs from their diet. But there is no need to worry, if you eat a varied diet of vegetables, fruit, grains and legumes you’re almost assured complete protein, as long as the calorie content of the diet is high enough.