Protein is very important for strong muscles and bones. Lean protein helps achieve weight loss. I love meat—it has riboflavin, vitamin B12, tyrosine, and the FoodTrient zinc—but I enjoy it in moderation, which protects against cardiovascular disease. I also am careful about eating cured meats, which can aggravate joints and promote gout.
Whenever possible, I use grass-fed beef over corn-fed beef because cows were created to eat grass, not corn. The meat from animals that graze grass—cows, lambs, or even buffalo—contains more of the good-for-you omega-3 fatty acids and less of the bad-for-you omega-6s. And I make sure I buy meat from farms that treat their animals well by not injecting them with hormones or feeding them too many antibiotics.
Fish is known as a healthy source of protein. However, I avoid some fish, such as tuna, because the mercury content in older, larger, cold-water fish like tuna can be high. I also try to avoid eating any fish that isn’t sustainable or is in danger of being overfished. Salmon and swordfish are good choices. Sardines have not only good fats, they also have lots of calcium. I love shellfish, although it can be high in cholesterol.
Eggs provide a form of protein that our bodies can absorb faster and easier than any other. They also contain the FoodTrient choline, an important brain chemical. Egg yolks have the FoodTrient lutein, which is great for beautiful, healthy, young eyes. Just like meat, eggs are great in moderation.
In addition to protein, dairy products provide calcium, phenylalanine (an important brain chemical), riboflavin, vitamin B12, and zinc. Yogurt has the added benefit of immune-boosting probiotics, which uncultured milk does not. Cheese also has probiotics, but some people can have adverse reactions to aged cheeses, while cream can add unnecessary calories and fat. Many people now drink fat-free dairy products, but they don’t absorb calcium as well. Keeping all this in mind, I follow a dairy regimen of young cheeses, low-fat or evaporated milk, buttermilk (made by adding vinegar to milk), and yogurt.
Vegetable sources of protein abound. Soybeans and tofu are good selections, but those who have had breast cancer need to stay away from phytoestrogens like soybeans. Lentils, garbanzo beans, white beans, black beans, black-eyed peas, and mung beans are all nutrient-rich protein sources. So are nuts, especially Brazil nuts—a FoodTrients favorite, with their high selenium content (see my nutrient-rich recipe for Brazil Nut Tarts)—and walnuts, with their high amount of antioxidants. Mushrooms are a source of both protein and detoxifying agents. Another FoodTrient favorite, moringa, has incredible amounts of protein, even more than spinach (see my recipe for Moringa Vegetable Soup). Seaweed and spirulina (a form of algae) are vegetable protein sources from the sea.
Here are my top 30 proteins for defying aging with every bite: