Protein is an important macronutrient at all stages of life. As you age, including protein with each meal can stabilize blood sugar levels, increase meal satiety, and promote the maintenance of lean muscle.
You can obtain protein from both plant and animal sources. Plant-based proteins provide fiber and prebiotics (the food that keeps those healthy probiotic gut-bacteria thriving) for a healthy immune and digestive system.
Plant-based protein options include:
- Beans and legumes – Provide a good source of folate, a nutrient important for lowering homocysteine levels, and important risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. Beans also contain a number of other nutrients including zinc, calcium, magnesium, and other health promoting antioxidants and phytonutrients. Lentils and mung beans are often better tolerated (i.e. they produce less gas) than other options like soybeans or kidney beans. If you choose to use canned products, choose salt-free products in BPA-free cans and rinse before using. Try adding beans to salads, soups, stews, and egg dishes.
- Nuts and seeds – Regular nut consumption has been shown to reduce cholesterol, insulin resistance, and inflammation as well as a number of chronic diseases. Nuts also provide a variety of vitamins and minerals including vitamin E, selenium, potassium, zinc, and folate as well as antioxidants and phytonutrients. Incorporate nuts and seeds daily by adding nuts and seeds to oatmeal, smoothies, and salads or pairing nuts or nut butters with vegetables or fruits for a filling snack.
- Tofu & tempeh – Whole soy products, including soybeans (edamame), tofu, and tempeh (fermented soybeans) are high in protein and fiber as well as a nutrients like folate, magnesium, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids. The isoflavones in soy have been shown to improve cognitive function and cardiovascular health and reduce the risk for cancer and cancer recurrence, including breast cancer. Limit intake of processed soy foods made with “textured soy protein (TSP)” and protein powders.
Experiment with adding more plant-based proteins into your diet and look for the next blog post about animal-based proteins and your brain.
For more information about AFFIRMATIVhealth and the RE:mind program, visit www.affirmativhealth.com.