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Food Groups, Health & Disease Prevention, Nutrition

Why Is Protein Important For Older Adults?

Protein is especially important during this time in your life for many different reasons. After all, 75% of your body is made of protein.

Muscle health. Muscles are important to the body for movement and balance. Eating the right amount of protein along with doing strengthening exercise can slow or reverse age related loss of muscle mass known as sarcopenia.

Bone health. Protein in addition to calcium and vit D also helps bone health by promoting hardening (calcification) of bones.

Healing. Protein is essential for the body to heal after you have surgery or an injury.

Antibodies. Antibodies are protein that travel through the body and defend the body from foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses.

Hormones. Hormones are proteins that control many of your body’s activities. One common hormone is insulin that regulates your blood glucose.

Foods that Contain Protein

Protein can be found in both animal and plant-based foods. Some sources of protein are considered better choices than others due to their influence on heart health. Eating plans that include low-fat dairy products, skinless poultry, fish, beans, lentils and soy foods such as tofu and tempeh may help improve blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Here are some nutritious protein food options:

· Meat, poultry and eggs: lean cuts of beef, lamb, goat, pork loin, skinless chicken and turkey, quail and duck

· Fish and seafood: salmon, tuna, cod, shrimp, mackerel, lobster, catfish, crab

· Low-fat or fat-free dairy foods: yogurt, milk, cheese, cottage cheese

· Legumes: beans, split peas, lentils, soy

· Nuts and seeds: walnuts, almonds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, pistachios, cashews and peanuts

Types of Protein Snacks

Having a protein-packed snack doesn’t have to mean filling up on protein bars and shakes. With a little planning, you can get your necessary nutrients and a filling snack all in one tasty package.

Greek yogurt. A small container of fat-free Greek yogurt (about 2/3 cup) has up to 20 grams of protein. Eating Greek yogurt can help you control your appetite, making you less hungry at your next meal. Toss in some berries or fruit to amp up its flavor.

Hummus. Snacking on hummus can help control blood glucose and keep you feeling full. Enjoying a 1/3 cup of hummus with veggie stick dippers will give you about 7 grams of protein.

Cheese sticks and grapes. With an ounce of cheddar cheese and a handful of grapes, you’ll get about 7 grams of protein. You’ll satisfy your savory and sweet cravings too.

Roasted chickpeas. Toss 3/4 cup of chickpeas in olive oil, sea salt, and cayenne pepper. Roast them for 20 to 30 minutes, and enjoy 9 grams of protein. You might find that chip snacks never tasted so good.

Cottage cheese. A 5-ounce serving has up to 20 grams of protein. Try this creamy, satisfying snack with blueberries for an extra punch.

Tuna and crackers. Try topping a serving of tuna on a serving of whole wheat crackers for a savory 12 grams of protein.

Turkey roll-ups. Sliced deli turkey rolled in a slice of cheddar cheese might easily satisfy your sandwich cravings. Throw in a slice of tomato, too, for a total of 12 grams of protein.

Hard-boiled egg. One egg packs about 6 grams of protein. Eat it solo, or use it as a topper for a mini-salad. Add 1/4 cup of beans (another 4 grams of protein) and a tablespoon of light dressing for a snack that eats like a mini-meal.

“Cheesy” popcorn. This is perfect for movie night. Air-pop 3 cups of popcorn and sprinkle on 3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor. Add a sprinkling of salt for a flavor bomb that offers about 9 grams of protein.

Nut butter with apples or celery. Use any natural nut butter (read: no added sugar) to dip with apple slices or celery stalks. Add raisins for extra sweetness, and score about 8 grams of protein.