If there ever were a star nutrient, protein would shine the brightest. From athletes to people wanting to lose weight, protein is a go-to nutrient helping meet their goals. And now, new research has found that eating sufficient protein in your diet may protect your cognition functioning too.
Making dietary modifications by choosing healthier foods appears to effect cognitive health positively. However, studies on dietary protein intake’s effect on cognitive decline have been limited.
A 2022 observational study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has found an association that eating more protein appeared to lower the chances of developing cognitive decline with age. Specifically, individuals who consumed 5% of calories from plant protein such as beans and legumes rather than carbohydrates showed a 26% lower risk of dementia. An even stronger percentage of lowered risk came from eating more peas and lima beans, which were associated with a 28% lower risk of developing dementia, for every additional three servings each week.
Regarding animal protein sources, for every 5% of calories from beef, chicken, eggs, and dairy, individuals had an 11% lowered risk for cognitive decline.
Even though this study does not prove that eating more protein guarantees protection from dementia, proteins are what build muscles and organs, like the brain. Protein is essential to making body tissue, repairs cells, and produces brain chemicals important for proper brain functioning.
The main take away from this study is to make a conscious effort to have a good protein source at every meal and snack. Good plant-based proteins include the following:
- Nuts and seeds
- Tofu and Tempeh
- Nutritional Yeast
- Whole grains such as Farro, Teff, and Spelt
Good animal-based proteins include:
- Lean beef, poultry, pork, lamb
- Seafood and fish
- Dairy – Greek yogurt, milk, cottage cheese
Adding protein at each meal of the day may be one healthy way to support brain health while reducing the risk of cognitive decline and dementia.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911.