There is one thing all men can do to make tremendous health strides – choose really nutritious foods. All men love to eat but there are certain foods that stand out specifically in helping men see major health improvements – reductions in cholesterol and blood pressure levels, improvements in memory, prostate health and even their love life, just to name a few.
Healthy eating is important for everyone however, there are ways in which men and women differ in regards to their dietary and nutritional needs. Just like women need certain vitamins and minerals when pregnant or to protect against breast cancer, men also need certain nutrients to help them be as healthy as possible.
Listed below are foods men need to include in their daily diet to be exceptionally healthy and to see the positive effects they provide:
·Fatty Fish – Want to avoid a heart attack, the leading killer of men in the United States? Eat more salmon, tuna, halibut, lake trout, and sardines to obtain heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
These unsaturated fats may help reduce inflammation causing damage to blood vessels leading to heart disease. They may also help lower triglycerides levels, blood pressure, reduce blood clotting and risk of a stroke. It is recommended to have two 3-ounce servings (size of a deck of cards) each week of fish broiled or baked.
·Berries and Tart Cherries – Berries really do deserve the label “superfood.” Berries include strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and pretty much any other food ending in “berry.” These brightly colored yet delicate fruit are armed with antioxidants possibly helping to lower the risk of cancer. In addition, they appear to improve memory and concentration. Have some type of berry each day, whether fresh, frozen or added to a smoothie.
Tart cherries are particularly rich in the compounds of anthocyanins and bioflavonoids which can help relieve pain from arthritis, gout or even soothe sore muscles. These same compounds appear to help reduce migraine headaches and eliminate byproducts of oxidative stress helping to slow down the aging process. Need help with sleep? Cherries contain melatonin helping improve the body’s circadian rhythm, which regulates the body’s chemical and hormonal production and metabolism in a 24 hour cycle.
·Tomato Sauce – Lycopene is a phytochemical found in tomatoes that may help reduce the likelihood of men developing prostate cancer.
To make lycopene more readily absorbable, studies have shown bioavailability of lycopene is enhanced when tomatoes are cooked or processed into tomato sauce or tomato paste. Either way, consuming more tomatoes and tomato sauce provide other key nutrients for good health. Adding tomato sauce to pasta, or salsa to tacos, is a delicious way to get in more lycopene.
·Lean Red Meat – See, no one’s taking this away from you. Lean red meat is packed with protein, zinc and an amino acid called leucine helping to build muscle. The key to choosing red meat is the word “lean” and watching the portion size. Lean cuts of red meat include grass-fed beef, bison, venison and looking for the words “loin or round” on the package. A 3-4 ounce serving size (about the size of a deck of cards or the palm of your hand) a few times a week is sufficient.
·Dark Chocolate – A special ingredient in dark chocolate called flavonoids can have all kinds of good health benefits for a man – it can possibly help lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and improve circulation. The added bonus of better blood flow also impacts your sex life by helping to achieve an erection. The calories in chocolate add up quickly so the daily recommendation is no more than 1 ounce of at least 70% cacao content of dark chocolate.
·Orange and Leafy Green Vegetables – It’s hard to miss the bright orange and green vegetables in the produce section of a grocery store. This would include sweet potatoes, carrots, red, orange and yellow bell peppers, spinach, romaine lettuce, kale and collard greens. Talk about health foods – these are it! Orange vegetables are excellent sources of beta-carotene, lutein and vitamin C. For men, this means they may reduce your risk of developing prostate cancer. Leafy green vegetables also protect the prostate in addition to your eyes. They are loaded with lutein and zeaxanthin, nutrients necessary to prevent cataracts and age-related macular degeneration as we age.
·Prunes, Figs and Dates – This is a talented trio you don’t want to overlook.
Prunes have a reputation of being a go-to laxative and are often considered more effective than psyllium. Their natural sugar, sorbitol, helps pull moisture into the digestive tract softening bowel movements reducing constipation. Prunes are a rich source of manganese and iron. Manganese protects mitochondria – cellular structure that create energy – from being damaged by free radicals. Iron is necessary for carrying oxygen and protects cells in keeping the immune system strong.
One of the oldest known fruits, figs are a great source of fiber - eating just 4 of them provide 5 grams helping with weight management. Looking for a heart friendly food – figs are it. Four figs provide 240 mg of potassium along with low sodium levels helping to lower blood pressure.
Dates are the fruit of the date palm tree and are grown here in the U.S in California. Dates boast many health benefits. Their rich supply of potassium offers protection against stroke and heart disease, and they provide an excellent source of fiber preventing LDL cholesterol absorption in the gut. Dates are also rich in magnesium essential for bone growth and copper required for production of red blood cells.
·Milk and Greek Yogurt – If men are looking for another great muscle-building food, the dairy aisle is your next stop. Milk and yogurt both provide whey which contains leucine, an amino acid helping to build muscle. They are also excellent protein sources - 8 grams of protein in one cup of milk and one carton of Greek yogurt can contain at least 10 grams of protein or more. Greek yogurt has live active bacteria added helping to keep your digestive tract running smoothly.
·Ancient Grains – If you’re looking for something different besides rice, these rediscovered ancient grains are worth trying. Often referred to as heritage or super grains, some are actually seeds while others are related to wheat. Not only are they an excellent source of energy but they provide exceptional sources of protein, fiber, calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium and zinc. These amazing grains, unlike most wheat or rice we consume, are in their “whole” form, with their bran, germ and endosperm intact, making them very nutritious. Discover these grains for yourself and try out quinoa, amaranth, teff, farro, freekeh, buckwheat and wheat berries.
·Almonds, Walnuts and Pistachios – A daily dose of nuts could make the difference in determining what diseases you may or may not develop. A study from the Harvard School of Public Health showed those who ate a handful each day had lowered reductions in both cardiovascular disease and cancer. Looking for a food to fuel high energy demands of physical activity? Nuts are the answer along with helping reduce obesity and high blood pressure. Most are high in heart-healthy fat, vitamin E, magnesium, selenium, fiber, protein having beneficial effects on HDL and LDL cholesterol, improve metabolism and protect eye health. Also choose from cashews, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, and peanuts.