Protein is an indispensable part of the diet – involved in thousands of the body’s vital functions and found in every living cell. Once energy needs are met, protein is your body’s most important requirement.
Most people value protein foods above all others – an attitude that has a long history. From ancient Greece, where the rich ate poultry and game and the poor ate grains and honey, to 19th-century England, where the aristocracy dined on fish and roasts while the common folk ate bread and potatoes, to contemporary America, protein foods have been considered • status foods.
The word protein is taken from the Greek word for “primary,” a term chosen by a 19th-century Dutch scientist who believed he had found the “essential substance of animal matter.” This researcher was on the right track, but many more years of investigation were needed to determine the true biochemical nature of protein and to uncover its wide range of functions in the human body.