Senior Health

7/15/2022 | By Jessica Ball, M.S., RD M.S. RD

Protein is important for older adults in minimizing age-related muscle loss, maintaining lower blood pressure and cholesterol, improving concentration and energy, and more. These five delicious foods each add protein to your diet – about 10 grams each, as a matter of fact: eggs, nut butter, lentils, whole grains, and nutritional yeast.

Protein does a lot of good in the body, so it’s no wonder it’s such a hot topic in the health and wellness world. Whether you are trying to gain muscle, lose weight or heal from an injury, it’s important to meet your protein needs. There are numerous foods that contribute this essential nutrient to our diets, beyond just meat.

And research is finding that eating a greater variety of protein-rich foods can improve your health and improve conditions like high blood pressure. Whether you’re looking to make your meal more filling or have specific health goals in mind, there are several creative (and delicious) ways to eat more protein without overhauling your diet. Here are five ways to add roughly 10 grams of protein to your meals.

Add protein with these tasty foods

1. Eggs

A fried egg made to look like a cloud and sunshine. Photo by Vadim Ginzburg, Dreamstime. Five tasty foods to add protein to your diet and tips for using them: eggs, nut butter, lentils, whole grains, and nutritional yeast.

One egg contains about 6 grams of protein, so you would want to go for two to add 12 grams of protein.

Luckily, eggs are delicious hard-boiled as a side to a meal, can be whisked into a scramble or an omelet or baked into crowd-pleasing muffin-tin eggs. But that’s not all that eggs are good for. You can add an egg (or two) to a salad or snack plate to boost protein. Or throw together a frittata with vegetables that you need to use up, and you have a delicious and healthy meal to enjoy all week.

2. Nut butter

Two tablespoons of peanut butter adds 8 grams of satisfying protein to your meal or snack.

Chances are that some of us tend to eat more than the 2-tablespoon serving at a time, which means you’d get even more protein – plus, healthy plant-based fats. Add peanut butter to sliced fruit like apples or strawberries, or use it to top a piece of whole-grain bread instead of jam or butter to help boost your protein intake. Peanut butter is also a great addition to smoothies and savory dishes like peanut noodles and sweet potato soup.

Related: Questions – and answers – on age-related muscle loss

3. Lentils

One half-cup of lentils contains about 9 grams of protein.

Lentils are delicious legumes that are packed with protein and other nutrients like iron, potassium, folate and fiber. They’re a satisfying addition to soups, curries, salads and even can be added to smoothies. Plus, they’re super affordable, shelf-stable and cook more quickly than other dried beans.

Related: Getting the right amount of protein, using the best sources

4. Whole-grain products

Two slices of whole-grain bread contain about 11 grams protein, and 1 cup of whole-grain pasta contains 9 grams.

There are several reasons to choose whole-grain products when you can. In fact, the USDA MyPlate recommends making sure at least half of your grains come from whole-grain sources. This can help you add fiber, nutrients and protein compared to refined-grain products. Whole-grain breads and pastas are great choices and typically contain double the protein of their refined-grain counterparts.

5. Nutritional yeast

One tablespoon of nutritional yeast contains about 8 grams of protein.

If you have never tried nutritional yeast, its flavor is similar to an umami-rich cheese dust – sans dairy. Nutritional yeast can be added to recipes like salad dressings and spice mixes and used as a plant-based substitute for Parmesan. You can even sprinkle it on top of popcorn for a movie-theater-quality snack with a boost of nutrition.

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Jessica Ball, M.S., RD

Jessica Ball is associate nutrition digital editor at She earned her bachelor’s of science degree in dietetics with a minor in food systems and sustainability from Michigan State University, and her master’s of science in dietetics and dietetic internship at the University of Vermont. She covers nutrition news, sustainability, gardening and budget-friendly cooking content for