Proteins might be slipping out of India’s shopping cart. Here’s why!

Four Protein Superfoods That Are Frequently Ignored

India Protein Paradox, Protein 101
August 31, 2020

Right To Protein Team

Proteins might be slipping out of India’s shopping cart. Here’s why!

Grocery shopping trips have become a staple weekend activity in most households. Lengthy shopping lists, careful budgeting, and an occasional indulgence – they’re all a part and parcel of what it takes to keep the kitchen up and running. For some, this can be a daunting task, simply because we individuals today are spoilt for choice. For many, grocery shopping is an opportunity to experiment with a trending superfood, try the latest celebrity-endorsed diet or adopt a new healthy eating philosophy recommended by a friend – all in the bid to ‘eat right’.

But, do the choices we make at the grocery store really result in good nutrition for our family?

Several studies say No!

A 2019 study published by EAT-Lancet discovered that Indians on average eat more simple carbohydrates (rice and flour), less complex carbohydrates, less protein (both animal and plant-based), and less fruit and vegetables. Similarly, the Indian Consumer Market 2020 report revealed that in urban areas, beverages, refreshments, and processed foods account for the highest monthly expenditure, while rural households spend the most on cereals; Indians spend only one-third of their food budgets on protein-rich foods.

 This is particularly concerning since protein deficiency in India is more prevalent than it is known, with nearly 73% urban Indians being protein deficient and about 93% are unaware of their daily protein requirements (IMRB 2017).

To understand why protein isn’t finding its place in the shopping carts of most Indian households, the Right to Protein initiative reached out to 2,142 Indian mothers – the primary decision-makers of a household’s nutrition intake – across 16 cities in India for a survey conducted by commissioned research agency, Nielsen. The results of this study titled the Protein Paradox study, highlighted that there exists a strong sense of confusion about protein among mothers, which seems to indicate that misinformation and misattribution are the driving forces of protein deficiency in Indian households.

An ace celebrity Nutritionist and contributor to the protein Paradox Study, Nmami Agarwal said, “The biggest hurdle is lack of awareness about the importance of dietary protein. The major cause of concern is that most people don’t think protein is an essential component of the diet, and unlike calcium or iron deficiency, protein deficiency is still not taken very seriously […] There is a need of mass-awareness through government-led campaigns making the general population aware about the importance of protein, its sources, requirements, and health implications. Health care practitioners especially dieticians and nutritionists can raise awareness on an individual basis or conduct workshops or seminars to bridge the protein deficiency gap.”

When asked to identify common sources of plant and animal-based protein, most mothers surveyed were unable to correctly identify 8 of 11 protein-rich food items presented to them. While they correctly identified dal and pulses, eggs, and nuts like almonds as being protein-rich, they overestimated the protein content in common food items like milk, green leafy vegetables, fruits, roti, and curd. Meanwhile, extremely important protein sources, both animal-based like seafood, chicken, mutton, and lamb, as well as plant-based such as oats, millets, soy, cheese, peanut butter, and paneer were all incorrectly perceived to contain low protein content. Not only this, nearly 81% of mothers incorrectly believe that the regular Indian diet consisting of roti, dal, but rice is also enough for daily protein needs. As a result, most protein-rich food choices made by households are limited to pulses and dairy alone.

This means that while basic staples dominate the shopping list, misinformation further leads to the ignorance of protein-rich ingredients– and the foods that should be at the dining to table, remain in the grocery store aisle at the end of the shopping trip.

Therefore, here are three simple tips to reverse this detrimental pattern on your next grocery run:

  1. Make a smart shopping list with the intention to avoid missing out on essential macro and micro-nutrients
  2. Use freely available tools like the Protein Index to identify the right protein-rich foods and make your kitchen protein sufficient
  3. Opt for whole foods instead of processed or packaged foods and beware of misleading claims on product labels.

Good nutrition starts with smart choices in the grocery store. Once you take a step forward towards healthy and balanced meals with adequate protein, there is no looking back!

Protein-O-Meter

The amount of protein you need depends on your weight, goals, and lifestyle. Protein-O-Meter will take your body-composition and activity level into account to estimate your protein needs. Start with the number given by the calculator, see how that makes you feel, and try adjusting your protein level up or down to see what amount makes you feel good and perform well!

Protein Index

Find out all about whole foods that are protein heroes! Achieve your fitness goals by finding out just how much protein you should incorporate to stay nourished.

Protein-O-Meter

The amount of protein you need depends on your weight, goals, and lifestyle. Protein-O-Meter will take your body-composition and activity level into account to estimate your protein needs. Start with the number given by the calculator, see how that makes you feel, and try adjusting your protein level up or down to see what amount makes you feel good and perform well!

Protein Index

Find out all about whole foods that are protein heroes! Achieve your fitness goals by finding out just how much protein you should incorporate to stay nourished.

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