Protein is an essential part of a healthy diet. It helps us build and maintain strong muscles and boneshelps us to better recover from illness and injuryand reduces the likelihood of falls and broken bones. But, as we age, many of us don’t get enough protein in our diets. This is partly because our appetites naturally decrease as we age. Convenience, effort and value for money are also reasons why seniors may not enough protein.
However, protein is extremely important as we age. This is because our bodies become less able to convert the protein we eat into muscle and other important biological factors that help us recover better from illness and injury – so we actually need to eat. more protein as we age.
Here are five tips to help you get enough protein in your diet as you age.
1. Add sauces and seasonings
Research shows that the taste and flavor high-protein foods may encourage older people to consume more of them. And the taste and flavor are easily added to sauces and seasonings.
In studies where we offered older adults a hot chicken meal with or without sauce Where seasoning, we find that more chicken was consumed in meals with sauce or seasoning compared to plain meals. Meals with sauces and seasonings were also found to be more enjoyable and tastier than simple meals.
Adding sauces and seasonings to meals can increase the intake of protein-rich foods. The participants also subsequently ate equal amounts of protein at the next meal after the flavored meals and the single meals, meaning that their protein intake was globally increased.
2. Add cheese, nuts or seeds
Some foods that add flavor are themselves naturally high in protein. Good examples are strong cheeses – like blue cheese – as well as nuts and seeds.
In addition to protein, cheese is full of calcium and other micronutrients, including vitamins A, D and B12, which also help maintain strong bones. Cheese can be easily added to soups, salads, pastas or mashed potatoes.
Nuts and seeds can be added to breakfast cereals, salads, and desserts such as yogurt, and can provide interesting texture as well as extra flavor. Nuts and seeds are good sources of plant-based protein and are also high in healthy fats, fiber and many vitamins and minerals, and may reduce the risk of many chronic diseases, such as heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. However, nuts and seeds may not be for everyone (as they can be hard to chew), but the cheese is mild and full of flavor.
3. Eat eggs for breakfast
Breakfast meals tend to be low protein – so eating eggs for breakfast is a way to increase protein intake.
Our recent study found that eating eggs could be increased providing people with recipes and herb or spice seasoning packets that enhanced the taste and flavor of eggs. We gave participants recipes that used familiar and exotic ingredients, from various countries, for dishes that required a range of preparation methods. Egg consumption increased by 20% after 12 weeks and was maintained for an additional 12 weeks in those who received the recipes.
Eggs are a nutritious source of proteinand are generally easy to prepare and chew, good value for money and long life. Egg dishes can also add taste and flavor on a diet. However, eggs may not be suitable for everyone (including those with certain diagnosed illnesses), but for most people egg consumption is considered safe.
4. Make it easy for yourself
Try to make cooking as quick and easy as possible. There are many types of fish that can be eaten straight from the package or simply need to be heated, such as smoked mackerel or canned sardines. Fish also contains many vitamins and minerals, as well as omega-3 fatty acids (which are found in fatty fish like salmon) which are good for heart health. To allow easier and faster cooking, buy pre-cut, pre-prepared or pre-marinated meat, or boneless and otherwise prepared fish, then use your microwave. Fish can be cooked very easily and quickly in the microwave.
Beans, pulses and legumes are also easily purchased canned and ready-to-eat, and are all rich sources of protein for those wishing to consume a more plant-based diet. They also contain fiber and many vitamins and minerals, and may protect against many chronic conditions including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and certain cancers.
5. Eat protein-rich snacks
Many people have cookies or a slice of cake at snack time, but try to eat a high protein snack rather next time. Many protein-rich foods are already prepared and easy to eat. Some examples include yogurts or dairy-based desserts – such as crème caramel or panna cotta. Yogurts and other dairy desserts may provide many health benefits, including improved bone mineral density, necessary for strong bones. Nuts, cheese crackers, peanut butter, or hummus are also great choices.
Inadequate protein intake can lead to poor health outcomes, including low muscle mass and function and decreased bone density and mass, leading to an increased risk of falls, frailty and loss of mobility. To avoid these harms, researchers currently recommend consuming 1.0 to 1.2 g of protein per kilogram of body weight for the elderly compared to 0.8 g of protein per kilogram of body weight for all adults.