As food prices continue to rise, Americans are struggling to afford protein rich food sources. Meat prices began to rise during the pandemic and do not show a trend of falling. The price hikes for proteins have been especially steep. As of January, the cost of beef and veal was 16 percent higher than it was in the same month last year. Pork prices have increased 14.1 percent, egg prices have increased 13.1 percent, seafood 12.7 percent and chicken 10.3 percent.
Louisiana ranks third in the nation for risk of food insecurity, following the District of Columbia and Georgia. Nearly half of newly food insecure communities are small towns and unincorporated rural areas. This is extremely important to consider when we look at the recent spike in food prices.
Americans are looking for cheaper protein sources in an effort to consume the recommended daily amount of protein, roughly 56 grams for the average sedentary man and 46 grams for the average sedentary women. Liver and other organ meats are high-protein, low-cost options that are loaded with protein, vitamins, and minerals. Frozen chicken drumsticks are the cheapest cut of chicken with an overall good protein to calorie ratio. Eggs, another option, are a versatile, protein dense food. Canned fish such as tuna, mackerel, and salmon are affordable protein options and are favorites among many families. Beans, such as black beans and kidney beans are non-meat protein sources that are nutrient rich and are great additions to may traditional family meals such as casseroles, rice dishes, and salads.
Research is showing that we are reducing our protein intake as costs continue to rise. Low protein intake can lead to weight gain by way of an increase in consuming grain based foods. Protein is a vital fuel for the body and studies continue to show it helps you feel fuller throughout the day. In just one week of not eating enough protein, muscles responsible for your posture and movement are greatly affected, especially if you are age 55 or older. Over time, when the body doesn't receive enough protein, it can lose muscle mass, decreasing your strength, making it harder to keep your balance and slowing your metabolism. It can also lead to anemia making you feel tired because your cells are not receiving enough oxygen.
Some simple changes to increase your protein intake include using nuts as a casserole topping instead of breadcrumbs, adding cottage cheese to pancake mixes or scrambled eggs, using hummus as a dip, adding beans to recipes when possible, using quinoa in dishes instead of rice and pasta, and keeping boiled eggs prepared for a quick snack.
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