Protein-rich foods support cognitive function, says ‘Genius Kitchen’ author: Here are 3 affordable sources

Protein-rich foods support cognitive function, says ‘Genius Kitchen’ author: Here are 3 affordable sources
  • The price of food at home has risen 8.6% in the last 12 months, according to the consumer price index.
  • Some of the foods with the steepest increases are protein-based, like meat or eggs, which are an important part of a healthy diet.
  • Foods like Greek yogurt, dried beans and lentils, and nuts are a healthy source of protein that don’t break the bank.

Over the last year, inflation has been rising, and with it the prices of what you eat. The consumer price index, a measure of the average change over time in the prices paid by consumers, shows an 8.6% rise in the price of food at home in the last 12 months, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Among the foods seeing significant price increases are refrigerated items like meats, fish, and eggs. But protein is a key ingredient in a healthy diet. Many forms of it support “cognitive function throughout the day,” says Max Lugavere, health and science journalist and bestselling author whose latest cookbook, “Genius Kitchen,” is out this March.

Plus, “protein is the most satiating macronutrient,” he says, which means it’ll keep you fuller for longer.

Here are three affordable sources of protein to keep your brain and body healthy.

Greek yogurt

Lugavere recommends buying Greek yogurt, because “in 80 to 90 calories worth of food, you get about 18, 19 grams of protein,” he says.

Both full-fat or fat-free Greek yogurt could work. If you’re going for the full fat version, he recommends opting for grass fed, if possible. Either way, “the protein in dairy is pristine,” he says. “It’s among the highest-quality protein that you’ll find in nature.”

A 32-ounce container of fat-free Greek yogurt is currently going for $3.47 at Walmart. It can be stored in the fridge for one to two weeks or frozen for one to two months, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Beans, lentils, peas

Marisa Moore, a culinary and integrative dietitian, recommends stocking up on foods like beans, lentils, and peas. “They’re really economical,” she says, “and I love them because they’re a great source of plant protein and fiber, but they’re also really quite satisfying and versatile.”

Fiber, like protein, keeps you feeling full for longer.

“I always like to encourage people to buy the beans or lentils or chickpeas dry if you can, because that’s going to be the least expensive option,” she says. You can get them canned or frozen, but she warns this could end up being a little more expensive.

A 16-ounce bag of dry pinto beans is currently selling for $1.59 at Target.

Dry beans can last for a year or until their expiration date, according to Michigan State University. Google recipes for the type of beans you’ve bought to find a variety of ways to prepare them.

Nuts & seeds

Moore recommends buying a variety seeds, like pumpkin or sunflower seeds, and nuts, like Brazil nuts or almonds.

With these, “you get your carbs, fiber, protein and healthy fats all in one package,” she says. “Carbs are important for energy but the protein and the fiber really do help to provide a little more stability and help to give us that steady and sustained energy that we need.”

A 9.75 ounce can of mixed nuts is currently selling for about $6 at Wegmans. Some nuts benefit from being stored in a cool place, so make sure to look up how to best keep them fresh once you’ve bought them.

Written by