Top 10 foods for men’s health
June is Men’s Health Month, and CareOregon knows that men face unique health issues because of lifestyle, physiology and other factors. Diet is one of those factors. When people use the word “diet,” what does that mean to you? Does it mean eating carrot and celery sticks to lose weight? The term “diet” has gotten a bad rep over the years. Per dictionary.com, diet means “food and drink considered in terms of its qualities, composition, and its effects on health.” A healthy diet for men is not just something you do when you want to slim down for beach season or because your high school reunion is coming up. It’s a constant way of life.
Some men may not know about the health benefits that certain foods provide in keeping a body in great shape. A realistic approach to better health is not just a heavy focus on the best food for men, but also including the classic favorites in moderation. It’s better than simply denying yourself a good burger or pizza once in a while. By learning to love and appreciate the foods that keep you in good health, you'll be setting positive eating patterns that will continue to pay off.
Last month during Women’s Health Month, we featured 10 practical and healthy foods for women. This month, we’ve compiled a similar list of healthy food for men. Here are 10 superfoods for men that can bring great value to a man’s diet.
- Cherries. Cherry pigment contains anthocyanins, an anti-inflammatory. Both sweet and tart cherries contain these special pigments, though you'll find more in the tart variety. Medical research has also shown that cherries are good at preventing gout, which occurs more often in men than women.
- Turkey breast. Give thanks for the turkey, and not just on the third Thursday of November. This delicious bird has seven grams of protein per ounce, is high in B vitamins, zinc, and the cancer fighter selenium. Turkey is also the leanest meat you can find.
- Whole grains. Oatmeal in the mornings. Whole grain bread for your lunchtime sandwiches. Brown rice and whole wheat pasta for dinner instead. These are all ways to switch up and get more benefits from your grains. And if you are gluten intolerant, try eating corn on the cob. It’s gluten-free, and research shows it’s high in antioxidants and carotenoids that are good for your eyes. If you need ideas for whole grains, try this Men’s Journal article for advice.
- Shellfish. If you want low-fat, low-calorie, high-protein foods, then shellfish is the perfect meal. Crab, oysters, shrimp, clams, and other shelled water dwellers are abundant with zinc. Three ounces of oysters alone pack 445% of your recommended daily value of zinc, which helps drive up testosterone levels and keep your prostate healthy. Without zinc in your diet, chances of an inflamed or enlarged prostate increase, as well as your risk of developing prostate cancer.
- Avocados. This fruit (yes, avocado is a fruit) helps raise good cholesterol (HDL) while lowering bad cholesterol (LDL). How? With omega-3 fat. They also are chock full of antioxidants, which help reduce cell damage. So go ahead, spread some on your toast. Just be careful and eat them in moderation. Like nuts and olive oil, avocados are high in fat and calories. Fortunately, it's the good kind of fat though.
- Fish with Omega-3. Omega-3 fatty acids are known to help fight disease by reducing inflammation in the blood vessels, joints, and elsewhere. High doses of omega-3 fatty acids also lower the risk of heart disease and reduce unhealthy fats in the bloodstream known as triglycerides. They also can slow plaque buildup inside the blood vessels. Since our bodies cannot make them, omega-3 fatty acids must come from foods or supplements. Salmon, halibut, and sardines are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids, as are walnuts and spinach.
- Blueberries. Besides being loaded with antioxidants, blueberries have lots of vitamin K, which helps your blood clot, and plenty of vitamin C like most berries. They also help your arteries relax. Studies have also found that men who ate flavonoid-rich foods, especially blueberries, were less likely to experience erection problems.
- Dairy. Did you know that Supreme Court Justice David Souter ate the same lunch every day? It was yogurt and an occasional apple. Maybe he knew that yogurt (and milk) contain leucine, an amino acid that helps you build muscle. Dairy products don't have as much leucine as red meat, though, but they are still easier to eat because they take less preparation. Throwing some yogurt or cheese sticks into your lunch bag or pouring yourself a glass of milk is much easier than grilling up a steak.
- Bananas. Bananas are a great source of potassium, which is great for preventing muscle spasms (like Charlie horses). They are also good for your bones. And if you have pre-hypertension or high blood pressure, potassium could be as important as reducing your sodium when it comes to getting your blood pressure numbers down.
- Nuts. You want to lower your cholesterol? Nuts are the way to go, especially tree nuts. Take almonds for example. A study out of Penn State showed that eating almonds daily helped lower risk of heart disease and improved the body’s ability to rid itself of bad cholesterol. Pistachios are high in plant sterols, making them a good choice for lowering cholesterol too. They also add protein, zinc, and fiber to your diet. Brazil nuts are another flavorful tree nut that packs an incredible amount of selenium (see turkey breast) which plays an important role in your body's immune system.
Don’t forget that diet is just one factor in staying healthy and living a long life. There are other ways to improve your health and prevent illness. Check out our Men’s Health page for more information on how to keep your body and mind optimized.