Is a peanut butter sandwich a complete protein?

Thursday, August 13, 2009 14:26
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Q. I have read that certain grains when combined with certain legumes constitute a complete protein.  Since peanuts are a legume, would a peanut-butter sandwich made with whole-wheat bread constitute a complete protein?

A.   Nutrition Data's analysis of individual foods and recipes includes an amino acid (or protein quality) score.  Using our recipe analysis tool, I find that a peanut butter sandwich made with two slices of whole wheat bread and two tablespoons of peanut butter has a protein score of 39, indicating that it does not contain the optimal combination of amino acids that is considered to be a "complete" protein. 


This is not as big a deal as you might think, however.  Optimizing protein quality is most important if you have a very low-protein diet. Most Americans (including vegetarians) get plenty of protein, however, and take in more than enough amino acids to fulfill their needs.

This post explains a lot more about protein quality, the amino acid score, and whether or not you need to worry about it:

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