Animal meat is a ‘healthy protein source’ claims expert
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Whether you tuck into a roasted chicken or whip up scrambled eggs for breakfast, animal-derived foods are considered the richest sources of protein. Worryingly, a new survey suggests that around 75 percent of older Britons don’t get enough of the macronutrient from their diet. Fortunately, a nutritionist has shared the affordable, protein-packed foods that could help bridge this gap.
Between five-a-day and restricted salt intake, it can feel like there are one too many rules when it comes to a healthy diet.
This isn’t made any easier by supermarket shelves brimming with various products, promising to boost different aspects of your health.
However, you don’t need any fancy supplements or expensive dietary products when trying to ensure you get enough protein.
Despite this, a survey of 2,000 people from across the UK conducted by Provytl found a major protein gap in the nation’s diet.
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The findings revealed that fewer than one in four older adults eat the recommended amount of protein every day.
Zoe Cottrell, a registered dietitian and nutritionist, said: “Working on both medical and surgical wards and often with older people who had experienced a fall, I spent a lot of time telling people the same message – as we age, we need to increase the amount of protein we consume to stay healthy.
“Many people are not aware of this increased need and that’s why we have this protein gap between what we need and what we are consuming.”
What’s worse, not eating enough protein in older age can increase your risk of reduced muscle function, muscle loss and frailty.
All of this can lay the groundwork for more falls, admissions to hospitals and loss of independence, according to the expert.
Fortunately, there are various foods that could boost your protein intake while taking it easy on your wallet.
Cottrell said: “A number of foods are good protein sources without being at the top end of the cost scale.
“These include: eggs, tinned fish, tinned beans and pulses (lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, baked beans), some meat cuts, yoghurt and milk.”
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While all of these foods represent good options, the “richest” source of protein remains meat – think chicken breasts, steaks and pork chops.
The second place for protein amount goes to fish like cod, salmon or tuna, with tinned fish also being a good source.
Cottrell continued: “After this comes eggs and then dairy – so cheddar cheese, yoghurt and milk.
“Plant-based milks tend to have less protein – soy comes just below cow’s milk, oat milk has a small amount and almond milk has a negligible amount of protein.
“Vegan food sources tend to have less protein than animal sources; however, soya and tofu come top, with around half the amount per weight of that in meat.”
Although they rank lower on the list, good plant-based sources of protein also include beans, other pulses, quinoa, nuts and seeds.
Once you have the protein-rich shopping list nailed, the next step is focusing on how much to actually eat.
The amount of protein you need depends on your body weight, with older adults possibly needing a bigger boost to prevent loss of muscle mass and function.
Cottrell said: “As a rough guide, most older adults would need between 80g and 100g protein per day.
“To achieve this, you need to eat three to four palm-sized portions of protein-rich foods every day, so a portion with every meal is a minimum.”
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