Food Sources

Humans consume many foods that contain proteins or amino acids. One normally need not worry about getting enough protein or amino acids in

A diabetic child injects herself with insulin. Composed of 51 amino acids, insulin is a small protein used by the body to regulate glucose levels in the blood. [Custom Medical Stock Photo. Reproduced by Permission.]

enzyme: protein responsible for carrying out reactions in a cell hormone: molecules produced by one set of cells that influence the function of another set of cells antibody: immune system protein that protects against infection vitamin: necessary complex nutrient used to aid enzymes or other metabolic processes in the cell mineral: an inorganic (non-carbon-containing) element, ion, or compound energy: technically, the ability to perform work; the content of a substance that allows it to be useful as a fuel insulin: hormone released by the pancreas to regulate level of sugar in the blood glucose: a simple sugar; the most commonly used fuel in cells bacteria: single-celled organisms without nuclei, some of which are infectious virus: noncellular infectious agent that requires a host cell to reproduce electrolyte: salt dissolved in fluid fat: type of food molecule rich in carbon and hydrogen, with high energy content cholesterol: multi-ringed molecule found in animal cell membranes; a type of lipid the typical American diet. Foods from animal sources are typically rich in essential amino acids. These include chicken, fish, eggs, dairy products, beef, and pork. With the increasing emphasis on vegetarian diets, plant sources of protein are gaining in popularity. Such sources include dried beans (black, kidney, northern, red, and white beans), peas, soy, nuts, and seeds. Although plant sources generally lack one or more of the essential amino acids, when combined with whole grains such as rice, or by eating nuts or seeds with legumes: beans, peas, and related plants legumes, all the amino acids can be obtained. see also Diet; Fats; Malnutrition; Nutrients; Plant-Based Diets; Protein.

Susan P. Himburg


Insel, Paul; Turner, R.; and Ross, Don (2001). Nutrition. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett.

Whitney, Eleanor N., and Rolfes, Sharon R. (2002). Understanding Nutrition, 9th edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Group.

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