Protein is an essential macronutrient that supports nearly every function in the human body—from building strong muscles and bones to supporting digestion and cellular repair.
Plus, the older you get, the more important protein becomes to your health.
In fact, research shows you must consume 25 to 30 grams of protein—at each meal—to keep your body healthy and your metabolism going.
But most men and women don’t get nearly that amount!
So, today, let’s talk about 10 foods that can help you UP your protein intake…
Starting with a delicious (though underrated) mainstay of the Mediterranean diet…
10 high-protein foods to fuel your body as you age
Full-fat, organic cheese is a good source of essential fats, calcium, B vitamins, phosphorus, and zinc. It’s also a key part of the healthy, balanced Mediterranean diet!
Cheese is also an excellent source of protein. In fact, just one slice of cheddar, provolone, or mozzarella provides 7 to 8 grams!
So—make sure to enjoy your favorite unprocessed cheese regularly throughout your day, as the Italians and Greeks do. You can get even more nutrition into your day by enjoying it with smoked meats, berries, nuts, and olives as part of a healthy charcuterie board.
Eggs are another extremely nutritious source of protein. Of course, for decades, “experts” told us to avoid eating eggs and other foods with saturated fats and cholesterol. But now we know they were all wrong, all along.
In fact, in one recent study, people who routinely ate eggs had a MUCH LOWER risk of death from heart disease and stroke—and remained free of cardiovascular disease and diabetes—compared to those who didn’t eat eggs.
Those findings make perfect sense to me, as a long-time egg-lover. You can prepare them many different ways and combine them with other healthy ingredients, such as avocado, onions, and spinach.
Wild-caught fish and seafood are two more important sources of protein. In fact, they provide between 6 and 8 grams of it…per ounce! They’re also an excellent source of essential omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins B and D, calcium, iodine, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc.
Of course, at this time of year, it doesn’t get much better than fresh seafood! So, consider making a delicious New England seafood boil that features lots of protein-rich shrimp, lobster, and clams.
Now let’s move on to two types of beans (legumes). Granted, you typically don’t feature beans as the star player of a meal (unless you’re a vegetarian), but you can easily toss them into main dishes for some added protein.
For example, just one cup of kidney beans contains more than 13 grams of protein, together with other key nutrients—such as B vitamin folate and manganese. Plus, they’re an excellent source of fiber.
So, go ahead and add them to green salads, soups, chilis, stews, and tacos for an added infusion of protein and other nutrients. I personally enjoy tossing some extra kidney beans into my homemade pasta e fagioli (the “pastafazool” of Southern Italian dialect).
Lentil beans, another healthy legume, are featured heavily in Middle Eastern and North African cuisine. They provide a whopping 18 grams of protein in each cup. You can easily add them to any kind of salad, soup, or curry. Plus, lentils are quite affordable—helping you achieve a balanced diet on a balanced budget.
Nuts also make a great, high-protein, on-the-go snack. Plus, numerous studies show that eating nuts helps you feel more satisfied, maintain a healthy weight, and improve blood sugar control.
In fact, Harvard researchers found that people who eat just one ounce (about a handful) of nuts five times a week have a 27 percent lower risk of ever developing Type II diabetes.
Even better, it doesn’t really matter which type of nut you prefer. They all have beneficial properties and lots of protein—peanuts included!
However, I do suggest buying nuts in the shell, for added freshness. You can also enjoy a spoonful of organic peanut butter (without added sugar or artificial ingredients) to your morning yogurt for an extra 8 grams of protein.
And speaking of yogurt…
Plain, full-fat Greek or Icelandic yogurt is another great source of protein. One-half cup gives you an impressive 11 grams and lots of healthy probiotics, which support your gastrointestinal (GI) microbiome. Plus, it’s a highly versatile food. So you can work it into different parts of your day!
At breakfast, add in some fresh berries, sliced fruit, and nuts. Then, for lunch and dinner, you can add it to salad dressings, dips, soups, or any prepared dish. It goes especially well with curries and hot, spicy dishes.
Last, but not least, seeds make another high-protein, on-the-go snack. I especially enjoy making my own trail mix with nuts, seeds, and dried berries to snack on during long car rides. (Just be sure to avoid added, artificial ingredients.) And I always look forward to fresh pumpkin seeds in the fall. (If you planted pumpkins in your garden this year, save the seeds for roasting, as they contain about 4.5 grams of protein in just one tablespoon!)
To learn much more about the importance of protein to your health, check out the July 2022 issue of Insiders’ Cures (“Majority of adults FAIL to consume daily amounts—and their health suffers”). If you’re not yet a subscriber, now is the perfect time to become one!
Always on the side of science,
Marc S. Micozzi, M.D., Ph.D.
“The 10 best ways to add 10 grams of protein to your diet.” Newsmax, 04/04/2022. (newsmax.com/health/heart/protein-diet-greek-yogurt-eggs/2022/04/04/id/1064241/)
“Nut Consumption in Relation to Cardiovascular Disease Incidence and Mortality Among Patients With Diabetes Mellitus.” Circulation Research 2019;124:920–929. doi.org/10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.118.314316