Has your doctor or dietitian talked to you about increasing your protein intake? It is common for older adults to struggle with eating adequate amounts of protein and total intake of protein has been shown to decline with age. This can be related to appetite and taste changes, cost of high quality meats, difficulty chewing, or decreased energy for cooking. Unfortunately, as we age we lose lean body mass, which can lead to increased weakness, delayed wound healing, and decreased immune function*. Getting enough protein in your diet can be vitally important.
Meats - poultry, eggs, fish/seafood, beef, pork, lamb, etc.
Dairy - milk, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese
Beans - dried peas, beans, lentils, and tofu
Nuts and Seeds - walnuts, pecans, cashews, pistachios, almonds, nut butters, sunflower seeds, etc.
Cooking Tips to Increase Protein
- Add cheese to sandwiches, breads, vegetables, eggs, soups, sauces or casseroles.
- Substitute milk for water when making hot cereal, soups, hot cocoa or pudding.
- Add nonfat dry milk to regular milk, yogurt, milkshakes, eggs or mashed potatoes.
- Substitute yogurt for sour cream.
- Serve yogurt as a dip for fruit.
- Slice hard-cooked eggs and add to salads.
- Beat eggs into mashed potatoes or other vegetable purees and sauces.
- Add an extra egg when making quiches, pancakes, French toast, custard or puddings.
- Sprinkle nuts on yogurt, cereal, oatmeal, ice cream and salads.
- Add nuts to breads, muffins, pancakes, cookies and other baked goods.
- Use peanut or other nut butters in place of regular butter on sandwiches, toast, muffins, crackers and fruit slices.
- Add peanut butter to ice cream or milkshakes.
- Add chopped meats to soups and stews.
- Add lean meat to stuffing.
- Top your salads with sliced cooked meats.
- Sprinkle chickpeas or red beans on salads.
- Add dried peas, beans, and lentils to soups and stews.
Commercial protein supplements can also be helpful in increasing total protein intake. Hormel Health Labs offers several products that can help you boost your protein intake. MULTI MIX™ Calorie & Protein Supplement can be added directly to most foods and liquids. It is also available in a low lactose version HI PRO-CAL® Calorie & Protein Supplement, designed for those with lactose intolerance. PROPASS® Instant Whey Supplement Protein Powder can be used to get extra protein while taking your medications. MULTI MIX™ Calorie & Protein Supplement and PROPASS® Instant Whey Supplement Protein Powder are available online for home delivery at www.HomeCareNutrition.com.
*Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Food and Nutrition for Older Adults: Promoting Health and Wellness. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2012;112:1255-1277.
Academy of Dietetics and Nutrition. Nutrition Care Manual®. http://www.nutritioncaremanual.org.
Mara Lee Beebe, MS, RD, LD, CNSC is registered dietitian who is passionate about nutrition and promoting health and wellness. She currently works as clinical dietitian at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, SC. Mara Lee specializes in caring for oncology and gastrointestinal surgery patients. Mara Lee works with patients to optimize their nutrition and overcome malnutrition before, during, and after cancer treatment or surgery.
Mara Lee graduated from Ashland University with a Bachelors of Science. She went on to receive her Masters in Nutrition from Bowling Green State University, where she also completed her dietetic internship. Mara Lee is an active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American Society for Enteral and Parenteral Nutrition.
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