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Animal proteins (meat, dairy products, eggs) are complete proteins, which means they contain all the amino acids essential for developing and maintaining a sound body.

Vegetable proteins, with the exception of soy protein, do not contain sufficient amounts of amino acids to constitute complete proteins. A complete protein can be achieved by :

  • Combining vegetable protein with animal protein (e.g. chili with ground beef)
  • Combining legumes (peas, beans, lentils) with grains (e.g. rice salad with chickpeas)
  • Combining legumes with nuts (e.g. legume salad with mixed nuts)

Some believe that such combinations must be part of a single meal to be effective, but is this really true ?

Not completely ! If you eat complementary foods within 24 hours—and not necessarily during the same meal—you will get the benefits of complete proteins. For example, let’s say that you have bread in the morning, a snack of cheese, a bean casserole for lunch, fish for dinner, and nuts for dessert. You will have had complete amino acids, even though they weren’t eaten at the same meal. Certainly makes life simpler !

Pregnant women, however, must eat these food combinations during the same meal.