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How To Increase Protein In Diet



My doctor says I need to eat more protein as my legs are swelling.  What foods are high in protein that I may not only eat but may snack on?


Joanna Brell, MD

Low blood protein is a common problem with many cancers. This can be one cause of leg swelling, but usually there are other factors also contributing to the swelling, such as cancer treatments and poor circulation. Increasing the protein in your diet is part of a healthy approach to eating while you are on chemotherapy, but by itself will not change the swelling by much. It is important to ask your doctor about other methods to reduce the swelling (medications, elevating the legs). Eating more protein while on treatment, however, is beneficial.

Kimberly Ortega, MS, RD, LD

Ways you can increase your protein include incorporating lean meat, fish and poultry in your diet. Try cold meat salads during treatment, especially if you appetite is decreased. Choose 3 servings of dairy each day, including skim milk, low fat yogurt and reduced fat cheeses. Easy high protein snacks include a hard boiled egg, low fat cottage cheese, low fat puddings, peanut butter, nuts and seeds and hummus.

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Response by:

Joanna M Brell, MD Joanna M Brell, MD
Formerly, Assistant Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University

Kimberly  Ortega, MS, RD, LD Kimberly Ortega, MS, RD, LD
Dietician and Oncology Specialist
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University