Protein is the key building block for good health. It's used to strengthen muscles, connective tissues like cartilage, collagen and other body essentials. Protein is the material our bodies use to build and repair themselves, control chemical functions, and maintain all-around health. To take in protein, humans eat plants, animals or fish and shellfish that the digestion process then breaks down into amino acids.
Foods that contain all nine essential amino acids are called "complete" proteins while those that are deficient in one or more essential amino acids are "incomplete." Complete proteins are usually defined as milk, meat, cheese, poultry, fish and shellfish, yogurt and soy. Generally speaking, plant proteins such as rice, cereals, grains and nuts are "incomplete." But incomplete amino acids can be combined or paired with other incomplete amino acids, think protein-rich rice and beans or peanut butter on whole wheat bread, to become complete.
Eating good food with adequate amounts of protein, recommended at between 10 and 35 percent of total daily calories for most adults, gives the body resources for good health.