Do Rice and Beans Form a Complete Protein?

Vegetarian Diet and Finding Adequate Protein

rice and beans

If you’re currently a vegetarian, or decidedly against having an excess of meat in your diet, then perhaps you’ve thought about where your dietary protein is going to come from and ended up with a giant question on your hands. Most plant-based proteins, such as legumes or grains, are considered incomplete proteins, while animal-based proteins are generally considered to be complete. So if your body is in need of protein, aside from adding in more complex and nutrient grains such as quinoa, what can you do?

Aside from being a tasty combination in about a million different permutations, rice and beans is also a very nutrient-rich dish. The starch contained in rice provides the body with energy, iron, protein and vitamins like B. Add in some beans to the rice, and you’ve got even more iron, and a larger total amount of protein than rice by itself. And when eaten together, the combination forms a single source that contains all the essential amino acids.

More on the Rice and Beans Combination

Protein is needed by the body in order to build and repair the body’s tissue, in addition to making enzymes and hormones that allow the body to function properly. Body parts like your hair, for instance, are almost entirely made up of protein. Protein consists of smaller component parts called amino acids, about a dozen of which the body makes naturally.

Of the total twenty-one, another nine are only to be acquired by the body through your intake of food. These amino acids are called “essential.” When we speak of a complete protein, we are talking about proteins that contain all of the essential amino acids, such as a person finds in rice and beans.

Other options are available for vegetarian dieters looking to consume complete proteins — they are to be found in some plants, including quinoa (mentioned earlier), spirulina, hemp seed, buckwheat and soy, among others. Apart from single-source plant-based complete proteins, foods can also be eaten in tandem to create complete proteins. Beans and rice, or beans and corn, for instance, create the phenomena. Beans and nuts or seeds or grains — think “hummous and pita bread” or a kind of “nut butter on whole grain bread” or “pasta and beans,” and you begin to see how various cultures around the world have satisfied the body’s need for complete protein, without necessarily relying on meat.

[Photo Via: Mccormick]

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