June is Men’s Health Month, a perfect time to explore the nutritional needs of men. Males have higher caloric needs than females, only because we generally weigh more and have more lean body mass than females. Men also have slightly higher requirements for most vitamins and minerals to support those additional calories, so we need an extra serving of fruits and vegetables each day compared to women. (unsurprisingly, Dudes actually consume fewer fruits/veggies compared to females)
According to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines, U.S. men and teenage boys are eating too much meat. Substituting either seafood or plant proteins, such as beans, nuts and seeds, can help reduce the health impacts of a meat-centered diet. This can help prevent the consumption of too much iron as well, which is common in men, who need less than half the amount of iron as women. Men rarely are deficient in iron and too much can cause problems. That’s why men’s multivitamins usually contain little or no iron.
U.S. men also have the highest rates of heart disease and are at risk of prostate cancer (the number two cause of cancer death among men). Here are some specific foods that will help dudes abide to healthier lifestyle choices.
Tomatoes (and watermelon) provide lycopene, a red pigment that functions as an antioxidant and helps support heart, prostate and bone health. It’s a fat-soluble nutrient that ends up getting stored in the prostate and testes (where it works to help prevent prostate cancer). Cooked tomato products (ketchup, tomato sauce) are the most concentrated source of lycopene.
Whole soy products
Tempeh, tofu, miso and edamame provide lean protein as well as isoflavones (genistein, daidzein) that can slow the growth of prostate cancer cells and reduce levels of PSA, a marker for prostate health. Replacing red meat with tempeh helps to reduce risk factors for heart disease and prostate cancer, while simultaneously increasing fiber and antioxidant intake.
Pumpkin seeds are a great source of zinc, an essential mineral needed to support protein synthesis, immune function and sexual health. (Oysters are the top source of zinc and commonly believed to boost libido). Pumpkin seeds also are a top source of phytosterols, which lower cholesterol levels and also support prostate health.
More superfoods for dudes
The capsaicin found in chili peppers boosts both heart health and can stop the growth of prostate cancer cells. Avocados provide good fats that support the heart and antioxidants that may protect against a number of cancers, including prostate cancer. Regular consumption of green tea helps promote longevity and energy and also supports a healthy prostate and heart.
Stay tuned, more Foods 4 Dudes to come….
This article was originally published in print and online for PCC Taste. (June 2016)