In the midst of malnutrition and protein deficiency, the country is also going through a rough phase with the rise in the prices of pulses, the staple for millions of Indians. The commonly consumed pulses such as Tur dal and Moong dal have almost doubled with Tur dal even crossing Rs 200 a kg.
This has caused the consumption of protein-rich pulses to decrease significantly. So how does one deal with this situation without losing on the protein intake? The simple solution is: switching to cheaper sources of protein, like eggs for instance.
In the last two months as pulse prices shot up, sale of eggs went up by 1.7%. Increase in egg production directly results in the decline of egg prices —a pair of eggs costs less than Rs.8 today, whereas 100 grams of Tur dal (pigeon pea) costs between Rs.18 and Rs.20
Dal and beans offer protein and tend to be sources of several minerals like potassium and magnesium. On the downside, they offer only a moderate amount of protein. Digesting dal and beans is not easy, hence many experts recommend limiting its intake quantity for up to 50-60 grams per day. However, this gives you only 10-11 grams of protein per day which is much less than the recommended daily protein intake of 1 gram of protein for every kilogram of body weight every day, like Poultry India says in its nationwide Protein Awareness Campaign!
If one were to get protein needs from dal alone you would have to consume a huge amount of dal and beans. They contain 25% protein and approx 50% starch or high carbohydrate content, which explains why they’re so hard to digest. Also, beans are rich in protein and starch (requiring different digestive environments and enzymes) and this can make thorough digestion more difficult. While its protein is being digested, starch lies in the stomach and ferments, producing gas and toxins making one feel bloated and uneasy. Going by the merit of protein, eggs are easily available, digestible, affordable and, most importantly, cannot be adulterated. They contain one of the highest quality proteins found in nature.
India is home to a quarter of the world’s hungry—195 million out of 795 million globally. Moreover, the prevalence of protein malnourishment among children under five is high and every second child is stunted, meaning they have low height for their age, according to the National Family Health Survey data (2005-06). An average Indian consumes approx 37 gms/day, which is nearly half the level recommended by WHO. Also, as mentioned earlier, it is mandatory that one consumes at least 1 gm of Protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day.
The above is so ironic keeping the fact in mind that, India is the third largest egg producer in the world after China and USA and that one out of every five eggs produced in the country comes from the states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh!
Dr Janaki Srinath, Nationally Acclaimed Nutritionist from Hyderabad said, “Given the risk low protein levels pose to the health of Indians, spreading proteins evenly across meals is extremely important. Combining vegetable, grain, pulses, egg and dairy products gives you a perfect protein intake for the day. Consumption of adequate protein ensures strong immune defense, efficient signaling of nerves and impulses, healthy hair and maintenance of fluid balance in the body. Protein can also turn into an energy provider when required by the body. Insufficiency of protein in the body affects all organs and overall growth and development. Probably the most important contribution of protein is its ability to reduce appetite and cause a spontaneous reduction in calorie intake. Protein intake is essential for stages of life leading to a better body composition and metabolic rate in modern sedentary lifestyles. Protein is much more satiating than both fat and carbs.”
Dr Geeta Dharmatti, nationally acclaimed nutritionist from Pune said, “An egg as a whole has more nutrition than only egg whites or only egg yellow. The egg yellow (Yolk) has all the vital nutrients and half the protein of an egg. Studies recommend 1 whole egg daily for a healthy adult. One egg contains 333 Mg of cholesterol which is equivalent to one day’s requirement. To outweigh the impact of cholesterol it is recommended to have more fiber in diet as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Those who can, should add lean poultry because as little as 100gms of lean chicken per day will give nearly half the recommended protein intake your body needs. Lean Chicken, eggs whites, fish have less saturated fat than most red meat.”
Today, Protein-Energy malnutrition (PEM) in young children is currently the most important nutritional problem that has reached near epidemic status. This often results from consuming food that is low in protein. Recently, Poultry India conducted awareness campaigns in Pune & Telangana regarding protein deficiency among the masses, asking people to choose eggs as a healthy alternative to pulses. India being the third largest egg producer in the world after China and USA employs over 25 million people and contributes Rs. 95,000 crores to the economy.
In the last decade, the numbers of poultry farmers has nearly doubled—going from 3 million to 6 million. As governments struggle to increase the production of pulses, the poultry sector could well be the solution to India’s hunger problem. It’s no secret that eggs are one of the best sources of protein. What makes this even better is the high ratio of protein/fat that eggs offer, with a little more than 6 grams of protein and just 5 grams of fat. Most important, the eggs are as vegetarian as milk because they are unfertilized and can never be hatched.
Below is a table of protein content for various foods: