Build your health from the inside out

Protein could be the key to build your health from the inside out.

Struggling to get the recommended amount of protein each day? Getting the suggested amount of protein each day is a challenge for many people. Michigan State University Extension program instructors regularly receive feedback that seniors and those cooking for themselves in particular often struggle to get enough protein in their diets.

Generally, it’s recommended that we consume 5-6 ounces (50g at 2,000 calorie diet or 65g at 2,500 calorie diet) of protein daily. As the building blocks for cartilage, bones, muscles, skin and blood, protein’s function is incredibly important. It helps repair damaged body tissues, fight infection and aids healing for both minor injuries and complicated surgeries. One simple way to start increasing the amount of protein in your diet is start thinking about non-traditional protein-rich foods.

Large portions of meat may be the first thought when protein is mentioned, but there are many non-meat sources of protein that can be an easy addition to your regular meals. These sources may be more convenient, require less or no cooking and lead you to explore new foods.

Sources of protein you may not have considered:

  • Dairy products - yogurt, milk and cottage cheese
  • Vegetables - broccoli and asparagus
  • Legumes – soybeans, black beans, kidney beans, edamame and fava beans
  • Nuts and seeds – pumpkin seeds, peanuts, walnuts and almonds
  • Lean cuts – canned chicken, chicken breast and turkey
  • Seafood – canned salmon, tuna fish and mahi mahi
  • Eggs – large eggs are a particulary good source of protein

Many of these foods lend themselves to be included throughout the day as snacks and have additional nutrients such as calcium, iron and fiber. Changing up your protein sources to include a larger variety will help ensure you get a variety of nutrients. MSU Extension recommends using MyPlate to discover high-protein alternatives across the food groups.

The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion and USDA MyPlate provide many great visuals and tools for understanding the daily recommendations for a healthy lifestyle.

Along with the daily recommendations, a new food label design is more user friendly including larger print and more realistic serving sizes. MSU Extension has an online tool and resources to learn about these changes by searching for Interactive Food Label. When purchasing packaged meats, nuts and canned beans, comparing sodium contents is another consideration to make the healthiest choices. 

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