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Plant-based Diets and Protein for Older Women

Sharon Palmer

Does a plant-based diet provide enough protein for women as they age? That’s one of the most common questions I get from people out there. And the answer is, yes!

However, there is a lot of attention recently within the health care community on increasing protein intake as we age. Indeed, recent research suggests that older women (aged 60 and over) should get more protein than the current RDA of 0.8 gm/kg of body weight (or 46 grams per day for the average women, according to the Dietary Reference Intakes). Scientists are suggesting that aging women need a bit more protein to help prevent frailty and to maintain muscle mass, immune function, and wound healing. Although more research is needed, protein intake of around 1 – 1.6 g/kg of body weight per day may be needed, according to recent science. So, that means if you weigh 135 pounds, that’s somewhere around 73 grams of protein per day.

For most women, a simple rule of thumb is to make sure you include a protein-rich food at each meal and snack (at least 4 servings a day). And remember, plant foods, with the exception of refined foods such as sugars and oils, have some amount of protein that can add up during the day to contribute to your total needs. Vegetables and whole grains can be great sources of protein, too. So make sure to include lots of nutrient-rich, whole foods in your diet. Plant-based proteins have a great nutrient package—rich in fiber, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals — perfect for older women who are at risk for diseases of aging, such as heart disease and cancer.

Protein-Rich Foods:

  • For Vegetarian diets: Milk, eggs, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese (plus foods on vegan list).
  • For Vegan diets: Beans, lentils, dried peas, soy foods (edamame, tofu, soymilk), nuts, seeds, and meat alternatives (i.e. veggie burgers).

Learn more about protein on a plant-based diet in The Plant-Powered Diet.

Main Image: Sharon Palmer, RDN, veggie burger sliders

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