While some types of protein should only be consumed in moderation due to excessive sodium or fat levels, it’s crystal clear that adding more of the right kinds of protein to your diet significantly contributes to optimal overall health in many ways. The following are the best high protein foods that are generally considered safe for seniors to consume, thus ensuring a well – balanced diet.
Lean meat is an excellent source of protein for seniors. The USDA defines lean as having less than 10 grams of fat and 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat per 3.5 ounce (100-gram) serving. Some examples of protein rich lean meats include:
● Skinless chicken and turkey
● Lean cuts of beef (the loin and round cuts)
● Pork loin
Besides for their high protein content, lean meats have several other health benefits as well. For instance, chicken is a great source of selenium, vitamins B3 and B6, as well as choline. Selenium possesses great antioxidant properties that help prevent cell damage and boost the immune system. Meanwhile, vitamins B3 and B6 help the body convert carbohydrates into glucose for sustained energy, and choline helps improve nerve function, thus serving as an anti-inflammatory.
With cuts of red meat like beef, pork and bison, they also offer benefits to your overall health. Red meat is a rich source of various essential nutrients, such as iron, zinc and various B vitamins. Official accepted guidelines and research around the appropriate amount of red meat continue to evolve, but it is safe to say that having at least some beef is usually a good idea. Iron is an essential mineral. Red blood cells contain iron, and managing iron levels helps reduce fatigue, boosts hemoglobin and helps the immune system properly function. Zinc is another crucial mineral that aids in immune system health, thyroid /hormone regulation, better wound healing and more.
Fatty fish are overall one of the best protein-rich foods on our list. You may already have a favorite, such as tuna, but there are plenty of other fatty fish to choose from, including:
● Arctic Char
Fatty fish is also very helpful for controlling blood sugar levels and staving off diabetes. For instance, Arctic char is a delicious and relatively inexpensive fish loaded with protein. A 3.5-ounce serving of arctic char contains about 20.2 grams of protein. Salmon and cod are also great choices. A three ounce serving of cod contains 20 grams of protein. These fish are also a superb source of B vitamins, anti-inflammatory properties, Vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, also called “Good Fats” or “Good Cholesterol” that benefit heart and brain health. Next up is nutrient-packed halibut. In a three-ounce serving, halibut contains about 21 grams of protein. Plus, just like salmon and cod, it’s also loaded with essential omega-3 fatty acids.
Most dairy companies offer high protein yet low-fat or fat free options. Try looking for these next time you hit the market:
● Low-fat cottage cheese
● Low-fat yogurt
● Skim milk
One cup of low-fat cottage cheese contains about 28 grams of protein. Cottage cheese also contains high levels of selenium, B vitamins, vitamin A, magnesium, potassium, iron and calcium to promote strong healthy bones. Next up on our dairy list is low-fat yogurt, with Greek yogurt being particularly healthful. Low-fat yogurt contains about 12.8 grams of protein in a one cup serving. Yogurt is also a great source of calcium, probiotics (good for gut microbiome health) and various vitamins. Last but not least is skim milk. One cup of skim milk yields 8.3 grams of protein. Skim milk is also an excellent source of potassium, vitamin A and calcium.
Many people develop lactose intolerance as they age, some as early as childhood. If you often experience bloating, diarrhea or upset stomach from dairy products, you can try lactose-free versions of milk and yogurt. Alternatively, there are also lactase supplements available over the counter that can help break down the lactose safely.
Believe it or not, a single, large hard-boiled egg packs six grams of protein. Inexpensive and easy-to-prepare, eggs are a complete protein and yield a number of quality health benefits. Eggs are great sources of selenium, 9 essential amino acids, vitamin D, B6, B12 and several minerals like zinc, iron and copper, along with vitamins A, D, E and K. Some brands of eggs even contain omega-3 fatty acids, but not all of them. If you’re unsure, simply check the info on the egg carton carefully.
While adding more protein to your daily diet is highly recommended for many seniors, there are others who cannot digest a lot of protein due to kidney problems and other diseases. Therefore, it is safest and best to first consult with your primary care provider.