5 Types of Proteins to Eat with a Wound

Proteins for Wounds

Proteins to Aid the Wound Healing Process

by Tim Olszewski MS, RD, LDN

         Visceral protein status is greatly compromised with a non-healing wound. When albumin and prealbumin are low, the body has a difficult time healing, no matter how much a wound is cleaned or dressed. Having an adequate protein intake may not only aid in the recovery process, but help bring visceral proteins back to their normal levels.

There are five major categories of edible proteins:

  1. Meat, Poultry, and Seafood
  2. Dairy
  3. Legumes/Nuts
  4. Vegetables
  5. Other (supplements)

        1. Meats, poultry, and seafood really deliver a heavy nutritional punch for wound healing. These foods contain a high protein-to-calorie ratio and are loaded with B Vitamins, iron, and essential fatty acids. Comparatively speaking, 3 ounce portions of each of these foods contain:

  • Chicken breast: 140 calories, 3g fat, 27g protein, Vitamin B-6 25%
  • Yellowfin tuna: 90 calories, 0.5g fat, 21g protein, Vitamin B-6 40%
  • Skirt steak: 185 calories, 10g fat (4g saturated), 22g protein, iron 13%, Vitamin B-12 53%

        2. Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt also possess well-balanced nutritional profiles, may be low in fat, and contain ampul amounts of calcium. Low-fat Greek yogurt (6 oz) has 140 calories and 14g protein compared to regular light yogurt at 90 calories with 5g protein. Milk is very flexible because even if the fat content is reduced, the protein level stays the same (8g per 8 oz.); soy milk contains the same amount of protein per 8-oz. serving, but about 80% less of the calcium. Reduced-fat cottage cheese contains the best protein-to-calorie ratio with 12g protein per 110 calories.

“When albumin and prealbumin are low, the body has a difficult time healing, no matter how much a wound is cleaned or dressed.”

         3. While legumes and nuts tend to be higher calories, they are great sources of protein, especially for vegetarians. One-cup servings of split peas (16g), pinto beans (15g), chickpeas/garbanzo (14g), and green peas (7g) are great complementary proteins for a starch source, like grains, rice, and corn. Peanut butter has a similar protein content (14g) but only at 2-tablespoon servings.

          Vegetable Proteins 4. Vegetables contain a decent amount of protein as well. While the best vegetable-based source of protein is tofu (10g per half-cup), spinach and broccoli also deliver 5g and 4g per 1-cup serving, respectively.

             5. Other sources of protein are dairy derivatives, like whey protein, included in Ensure and Boost supplements. These are easy, convenient ways to consume protein, sometimes between meals or on-the-go. I don’t recommend that they be replaced for real food, as they can be costly if used too frequently and they are not intended to supplant food sources. They do, however, contain anywhere between 10 and 25 grams of protein per serving.

The main thing to keep in mind is that your overall protein intake does not have to come from one food source alone. The variety of proteins will allow you to have diversity in your food choices and the ability to get different vitamins and nutrients from different sources, and it will keep you from getting tired of one particular dish or type of food!

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