The Power of Protein in the Older Adult Diet
An older adult’s diet can have an impact on how much age-related muscle loss they experience. Poor choices can lead to a loss of strength that contributes to balance problems and falls. A healthy diet rich in fiber, fruits, vegetables and protein can help lessen the chances of those happening and/or delay a decline in muscle strength.
According to a study conducted by USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts, we begin losing muscle mass as young as age 30. Because muscle burns more calories than fat, many people begin to see their weight creeping up in their thirties and forties. In addition to adopting an exercise routine that includes weight training, eating the right foods can help prevent that.
Daily Protein Goals for Seniors
The experts from Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital Department of Nutrition advise that older adults should consume about 7 grams of protein for every 20 pounds of body weight.
In addition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) also developed a Dietary Reference Intake calculator. You can use it to calculate how much protein you need in a day as well as a variety of other vitamins and nutrients.
Protein Rich Foods for Older Adults
Here are a few foods that can help seniors meet their recommended daily protein goals:
- Lean meats, poultry and fish
- Low-fat yogurt
- Reduced-fat cheese
- Reduced-fat cottage cheese
- Nuts like almonds and walnuts
- Peanut butter
- Tofu and soy products
A few general guidelines when it comes to the protein value in some foods:
- 3 ounces of meat typically contains an average of 21 grams of protein
- 1 cup of milk will deliver 8 grams of protein
- 1 cup of dry beans equates to 16 grams of protein
The USDA has developed a resource center to help older adults and their caregivers learn more about nutrition. It contains a variety of information ranging from menu planning to cholesterol management.