Adding a protein boost to your diet may keep you healthy this flu season. We’ve all heard that Vitamin C may help shorten the length of a cold — did you know protein helps build a healthy immune system?
With the holiday season coming up and stress levels on the rise (another immunity sapper), incorporate protein into your diet as one way to help protect against colds and flu.
What are proteins and what do they do?
Proteins are large, complex molecules that play many critical roles in the body. They do most of the work in cells and are required for the structure, function, and regulation of the body’s tissues and organs.
Proteins are made up of hundreds or thousands of smaller units called amino acids, which are attached to one another in long chains. There are 20 different types of amino acids that can be combined to make a protein. The sequence of amino acids determines each protein’s unique 3-dimensional structure and its specific function.
For more information about proteins and their functions: KidsHealth from Nemours offers a basic overview of proteins and what they do.
- Cottage Cheese:
- Cottage cheese makes the list of excellent sources of protein. Eat it on its own, add some fruit or veggies, or treat it like spread. Add herbs and some lemon juice to pump up flavor.
- Quinoa Salad:
- Quinoa is a whole grain rich in protein. Adaptable to most flavors, you can toss it with corn, bell pepper and peas, serve it with red sauce for an Italian spin, or go Mediterranean by adding Greek olives and feta.
- Beans are an excellent source of protein and can be prepared in soups, as salad toppers, or whipped into dips.
- Yogurt Shakes:
- Greek yogurt is known for its protein content and shakes are easy to whip up at home as long as you have a blender. Add milk and ice to cut the texture along with honey and berries for a protein-packed kick start to your day.
- Tuna Fish:
- Americans have a reputation for not eating enough fish, which is a great source of protein. Tuna fish is an easy addition to any diet with its versatility a major bonus. Enjoy it as a wrap with melted cheese, toss it with pasta, or add it to your salad.
- Eggs may have earned a bad reputation because of their link to cholesterol, but conventional wisdom is shifting in favor of this protein-rich food, which packs most of its nutrients in the yolk.
- Peanut Butter with Apples:
- Peanut butter can feel so indulgent, but it’s also a great nutritional resource. However you like it, chunky or creamy, this protein-rich spread goes perfectly with apples.
- Pumpkin Seeds:
- Put leftover Halloween pumpkins to use—remove the pumpkin seeds, lightly drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle on some salt for a high-protein roasted seed you can add to soups and salads.