There is a strong connection between muscle mass and good health. As we age we lose muscle, especially if we are not using it. These losses eventually affect quality of life, our balance, strength, cognitive abilities and ability to recover from an illness or accident.

In fact, muscles do everything from helping you move to digesting your food and pumping your heart. Active muscles not only help cut your risk of developing diabetes or osteoporosis, but the more muscle mass you have the more calories your body can burn.

There are 5 foods that can help maximize your muscle strength:

FISH. Fish is especially rich in omega 3 fats found in salmon, tuna, halibut, rainbow trout and canned sardines (watch the salt). Lean fish contains all the essential amino acids the body needs to make muscle and provides the building materials for creating and repairing other tissues. Muscle mass is built based on the amount of protein consumed. It is recommended that you eat at least 2 to 3 meals of fish high in omega 3 fats per week. Fresh is best!

SWEET POTATOES. Sweet potatoes are a terrific source of potassium and antioxidants that are good for building muscle. Potassium rich foods such as sweet potatoes can also help counteract the effects of eating too many acid producing foods which can speed the loss of muscle mass. FYI: An excellent anti inflammatory food.

LOW FAT YOGURT. Low fat yogurt is rich in protein, potassium, calcium, and vitamin D, which work together to keep your muscles function optimal. A daily serving of 6 to 8 ounces help keep your muscles primed.

QUINOA: Quinoa is an ancient grain from South America and is full of good carbohydrates. Carbs are critical to help you pack on muscle. Too few carbs means the proteins in your body will be used for energy instead of creating new tissue. Quinoa contains all the essentials amino acids your body needs for building muscle protein.

PUMPKIN SEEDS. Pumpkin seeds are charged with magnesium, manganese, iron and copper, which are important in building muscle mass, function and strength.

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