Yes, we’re all human, but men and women carry different health risks—which means that eating whatever your partner is having won’t necessarily cut it. To keep your doctor visits at a minimum—and keep all those gender-specific health risks at bay—it’s important to eat the foods that have been shown to help men remain healthy, lean, and strong (below the belt and elsewhere). Here, the editors of Eat This, Not That! reveal 50 foods all men should add to their diets, plus delicious (and easy!) ways to incorporate each one into your diet.
AWESOME FOODS FOR YOUR TICKER
Get this: More than one in three adult men, or more than 33 percent, has some form of cardiovascular disease, according to The American Heart Association. And one in every four male deaths is a result of heart disease. Those are seriously scary stats! Paired with a sensible diet and consistent routine exercise, the foods below can help ward off high blood pressure, stroke, high cholesterol, and heart disease.
1. Wild Salmon
Whether you’re simply trying to stay healthy or trying to improve your heart health because you’re already suffering from heart disease, omega-3s can help, say the experts at the National Institute of Health. How? The healthy fat helps reduce triglycerides (the fats that can build up in your blood and cause a heart attack) and also diminish the risk of an irregular heartbeat. To reap the benefits, pick wild over farmed.
2. Flax Seeds
A diet of heart-healthy fats, like those found in flax seeds, raises good HDL cholesterol levels. Plus the seed, which can be added to everything from smoothies to cereal, contains a huge dose of heart-protecting fiber as well. Use ground seeds to maximize your omega-3 intake.
3 and 4. Beans & Legumes
Unlike animal sources of protein, beans and legumes are free of unhealthy fats. That might be the very reason one study found that people who consumed legumes at least four times a week had a 22 percent lower risk of heart disease compared with those who consumed them less than once a week. (If they were eating more beans, that likely meant they were eating less meat.) Equally as encouraging results were published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. A scientific review of 26 clinical trials discovered that eating a 3/4 of a cup of beans daily could reduce levels of “bad” cholesterol in the blood by 5 percent. Add beans to your salads, soups and guac (another heart-healthy food!) to reap the benefits. We’re also fans of Roots Black Bean Hummus. It makes a great veggie stick dipper and sandwich spread.
The genus name for walnuts comes from the Roman phrase Jupiter glans, or “Jupiter’s acorn,” which shows you just how godly the Romans believed the nut to be. And still today, the meaty walnut is highly regarded for its nutritional awesomeness. As one of the best dietary sources of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, walnuts have proven particularly good for the heart. One study showed a two-ounce daily snack was enough to significantly improve blood flow to and from the heart. And a second, five-year study found a one-ounce portion of walnuts, three or more times per week could slash the risk of heart disease by more than half! Sounds like a great reason to chow down, if you ask us!
Eat This! TipHigh temperatures can destroy walnuts’ volatile oils while prolonged exposure to air can cause the nuts to become rancid. Buy walnuts raw and store them in an airtight container in the fridge for a heart-healthy snack that loves you back
Good news, guacamole lovers! Thanks to its high monounsaturated fat content (a nutrient that fights off high cholesterol), you’re obsession with avocados may just keep your ticker in tip-top health!
Oats are rich in a type of soluble fiber called beta-glucan and the anti-inflammatory compound avenanthramide—which, together, help prevent against obesity-related health problems including heart disease and diabetes. One 10-year study in the American Journal of Public Health found that eating one serving of oatmeal (1 cup cooked) two to four times a week resulted in a 16 percent reduction in risk of type 2 diabetes. A daily bowl showed an even greater risk reduction of 39 percent. And a second study showed that three servings of whole grains per day, including oats, was as effective as medication in lowering blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease by 15 percent in just 12 weeks. Need one more reason to trade in your Wheaties? A Colorado State University study showed that oats lower “bad” LDL cholesterol levels more effectively than wheat. And research in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition suggests oatmeal may be the most filling breakfast in the cereal aisle—resulting in greater and longer-lasting feelings of satiety than ready-to-eat breakfast cereal. Whip up one of these tasty overnight oats recipes to reap the benefits! You can also use rolled oats as a swap for breadcrumbs or pulse into flour for baked goods!
Not only are mushrooms super low-cal, they’re a good source of with potassium, a nutrient that can help lower blood pressure and offset the negative effects of excess sodium. Another reason to add the veggie to your shopping list: Researchers at the University of Florida showed increased immunity in people who ate 4 ounces of cooked mushrooms every day for four weeks.
9. Olive Oil
The world’s first Olympians circa 776 BC were rewarded jugs of olive oil for their athletic feats. And today’s health experts consider regular intake of the “liquid gold” equally valuable. Regular intake of virgin olive oil—a healthy fat characteristic of the Mediterranean diet—is associated with low incidences of cancer, heart disease, and other obesity-related problems as well as a lower risk of stroke. A recent study in the journal PLOS ONE showed that firefighters, a group known to have a high prevalence of obesity, who adhered to a Mediterranean-style diet rich in olive oil showed a 35 percent decreased risk of metabolic syndrome, as well as a 43 percent lower risk of weight gain. Another reason we love olive oil: Studies show phenols in virgin olive oil can effectively “turn off” genes associated with inflammation seen in metabolic syndrome.
A study of over 2,000 adults revealed that those who consume just 2 percent of their total daily calories from yogurt have a lower incidence of hypertension than those who eat the creamy stuff less often. And some yogurts also carry a nice dose of potassium, a proven blood pressure reducer. An 8-ounce container of Stonyfield’s Organic Smooth&Creamy yogurt, for example, contains up to 14 percent of the day’s recommended intake, more than you’d get from a small banana.
Despite its reputation for being temperamental, the penis doesn’t ask for much—support, protection, and a safe distance from heavy machinery. Oh wait, and a healthy diet. The food you eat is crucial for sexual health, from erection strength to sperm motility. Research indicates that some specific nutrients—from common vitamins to lesser-known plant extracts—that have demonstrated positive effects on very specific aspects of penile performance. Here’s the most potent of the lot.
11. Brazil Nuts
Often skipped over in favor of almonds or peanuts, Brazil nuts are packed with magic for your manhood. Selenium is a trace mineral found in Brazil nuts that plays an important role in hormone health. You only need a tiny bit for healthy sperm, but a tiny deficiency can be catastrophic for reproductive health. In one study, men who had lower testosterone and were infertile also had significantly lower selenium levels than the fertile group. Supplementing with the mineral improved chances of successful conception by 56 percent. And a second study that included 69 infertile men with low levels of the mineral, found selenium supplementation could significantly improve sub-par sperm motility associated with testosterone deficiency. Moreover, 11 percent of the men successfully impregnated their partners during the trial! Bonus: Brazil nuts are one of the 20 Healthy Fats to Make You Thin!
Recent University of Texas findings suggest that men who drink two to three cups of java a day—or 85 to 170 milligrams of caffeine from other beverages—are 42 percent less likely to have erectile dysfunction than those who consume less of the stimulant. And those who throw back four to seven cups were 39 percent less likely to have the condition. The trend holds true among overweight, obese and hypertensive men, but not for those with diabetes, a condition that often causes the issue. So, how exactly does drinking coffee keep things going strong? The scientists say that the stimulant triggers a series of reactions in the body that ultimately increase blood flow to the penis.
“Spinach is rich in magnesium, a mineral that decreases inflammation in blood vessels, increasing blood flow,” explains Cassie Bjork, RD, LD of Healthy Simple Life. And when it comes to a man, blood flow is everything. “Increased blood flow drives blood to the extremities, which, like Viagra, can increase arousal and make sex more pleasurable,” says psychotherapist and sex expert Tammy Nelson Ph.D. Spinach is also rich in folate, which increases blood flow to the nether regions, helping to protect your guy against age-related sexual issues.
Watermelon is one of the richest natural sources of L-citrulline, an amino acid that can help make your erection harder. Once it’s in the body, it converts to L-arginine, stimulating the production of nitric oxide, which increases blood flow to the penis, strengthening erections.
Thanks to the pine nuts that provide its base, this sauce is rich in zinc. Men with higher levels in their system have been shown to have higher sex drives than those with lower levels. Pine nuts are also a good source of magnesium, which boosts testosterone and helps keep sperm healthy and viable. We love to mix pesto with zoodles, fresh basil, chopped tomatoes and grilled chicken—super delish!
Some scholarly minds believe it wasn’t an apple, but a pomegranate with which Eve tempted Adam in the Garden of Eden. She was smart: A recent study published in the International Journal of Impotence Research discovered that pomegranate juice, rich in antioxidants that support blood flow, can help improve erectile dysfunction. Though this study was funded by POM Wonderful, animal studies have also shown that the elixir improves long-term erectile response, so it’s definitely worth a shot–literally. Knock a shot back or water your juice down a bit: One cup of tart POM Wonderful packs 31 grams of sugar.
Nature’s candy can be a cherry bomb for your sex life. Cherries are rich in anthocyanins, plant chemicals which clean your arteries of plaque, keeping them open for business. Not only does that help you stay healthy, it has a direct effect on blood flow below the belt, too. So make them a regular snack: One cup clocks in at fewer than 100 calories and boasts B vitamins, cancer-fighting flavonoids and three grams of satiating fiber. Looking for even more belly-filling healthy eats?
Potatoes—whether they’re the white or the sweet variety—are a great source of potassium. This nutrient boosts circulation, which keeps blood flowing where it needs to go and boosts your bedroom pleasure. (It also counteracts salt-related bloating, so you’ll look better naked, too.)
Trying to make a baby? Pick up a few bags of baby carrots. A study published in Fertility and Sterility that analyzed the effect of various fruit and vegetables on sperm quality discovered that carrots had the best all-around results on sperm count and motility—a term used to describe the ability of sperm to swim towards an egg. Men who ate the most carrots saw improved sperm performance by 6.5 to 8 percent. The Harvard researchers attribute the boost to carotenoids, powerful antioxidative compounds in carrots that help the body make vitamin A.
Ancient Incans consumed this energizing Peruvian plant before battles and before sex, says Chris Kilham, an ethnobotanist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Maca increases sexual appetite, stamina, endurance, and fertility. One study conducted at the Depression Clinical and Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston found that maca helped people with antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction to regain their libidos.
FOODS TO FIGHT DIABETES
Though not everybody realizes it, diabetes is a risk factor for various heart diseases (including heart attack and stroke), and other conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, kidney damage, and nerve damage. If you want to avoid spending hours in a doctor’s office waiting room, make the foods below mainstays of your diet.
21. Brown Rice
According to an Archives of Internal Medicine report, choosing brown rice over white rice may help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes—likely because the fiber helps ward off blood sugar spikes and surges of hunger.
A study published in the journal Diabetes Care discovered that those who ate more green, leafy vegetables in addition to fruit were less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Although the study only followed women, there’s a good chance men could benefit, too! (Plus, nothing bad has ever come of eating more veggies!) Why do we suggest watercress above all other greens? It has far more nutrients than other greens and has also been shown to fight off cancer. Results from an eight-week trial published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggest daily supplementation of 85 grams of raw watercress (that’s about two cups) could reduce DMA damage linked to cancer by 17 percent. Exposure to heat may inactivate PEITC, so it’s best to enjoy watercress raw in salads, cold-pressed juices, and sandwiches.
23. Grass-Fed Whole Milk
A 2005 Archives of Internal Medicine study found that men who consumed more dairy products, particularly those low in fat, had a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. Other research suggests that dairy products may help ward off insulin resistance, which leads to type 2 diabetes. When shopping, select dairy products that are fortified with vitamin D and calcium, Mayer-Davis suggests, since research shows that low levels of vitamin D may be tied to poor health outcomes.
In fact, people who eat a lot of high-fat dairy products actually have the lowest incidence of diabetes, according to a 2015 study of 26,930 people in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Those who ate a lot of low-fat dairy products, on the other hand, had the highest incidence. The researchers speculated that while calcium, protein, vitamin D and other nutrients in yogurt are indeed good for us, we need the fat that goes along with them in order to get their protective effects.
Broccoli is packed with sulforaphane, a compound that wards off inflammation, improves blood sugar control, and protects blood vessels from the cardiovascular damage that’s often a consequence of diabetes. Add it to omelets, stir-frys and pasta dishes.
Get this: Studies suggest that those with high levels of vitamin C in their systems may also have the lowest incidence of diabetes. But before you reach for that orange to stay healthy, consider this: Guava provides 600 percent of the day’s vitamin C in just one cup! A small round orange, on the other hand, packs just 85 percent. Although the tropical fruit packs 4 grams of protein per cup, it’s best to pair guava with an additional source of protein—like nuts or a low-fat cheese stick—to ensure blood sugar levels remain even keel.
FOODS THAT KEEP CANCER AT BAY
We all know that family history and the environment play a role in each person’s cancer risk, however, there are also a number of risk factors within our control. Limiting booze, avoiding cigarettes, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet can all help. Paired with a healthy lifestyle, consider the foods below an additional shield against the big C.
Men who eat more than 10 servings of tomatoes each week have an 18 percent lower risk of developing prostate cancer. It’s all thanks to the fruit’s high levels of lycopene, an antioxidant that fights off toxins that can cause DNA and cell damage. An added bonus: Tomatoes have been shown to improve sperm morphology (shape). Men with the highest tomato intake contributed to between 8 and 10 percent more “normal” sperm.
27. “Atlantic” or “Boston” Mackerel
You likely already knew that the omega-3s and vitamin D in mackerel, herring, and wild salmon were good for your heart, but did you know they could also help ward off the big “C”? One 12-year Harvard study of nearly 48,000 men found that those who consume these types of fatty fish more than three times a week are 40 percent less likely to develop advanced prostate cancer than those who consume the stuff just twice a month. The study authors credit the fish’s high omega-3s and vitamin D content for their protective properties.
Eat This! TipReduce your intake of processed meats like cold cuts, bacon, and sausage, which have all been linked to an increased risk of cancer, and add more fatty fish to your diets throughout the week to ensure a steady supply of the protective nutrients. If you’re at a Japanese restaurant order the Saba Roll (it’s made with mackerel), and if you find yourself at an American restaurant look for herring or wild salmon dishes on the menu.
Berries—such as cranberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries—contain powerful tumor-blocking compounds (like phenolic acids, glycosides, and anthocyanins) and antioxidants (like ellagic acid) that can slow the reproduction of cancer cells and stop free radicals from damaging cells. Consuming the fruit is especially effective at warding off colon, prostate, and esophageal cancers, studies have found. Add fresh or frozen berries to your fruit salad, pancakes or smoothies to reap the benefits.
29. White Tea
According to a 2015 Food Chemistry study, the antioxidants found in white tea not only help protect healthy cells against potentially carcinogenic oxidative damage, but they can inhibit the reproduction of existing colon cancer cells.
30. Citrus Zest
Love oranges, lemons, and grapefruits? Great! Keep eating them—just don’t throw out the peels. Why? They contain a powerful compound that boosts the body’s production of detoxifying enzymes. In fact, consuming zest regularly can help reduce the risk of squamous-cell skin cancer by 30 percent and shrink existing tumors, say University of Arizona researchers. The best ways to eat the stuff? Add grated citrus peels to soups, salads, and salsas, or add our Herb Roast Chicken with Root Vegetables to your weekly dinner lineup. The dish is beyond delicious, low-cal and calls for the zest of an entire lemon, so it can help keep you healthy, too.
31. Leafy Greens
Rich in disease-fighting chemicals and nutrients that block larynx, mouth, lung, breast, skin and stomach cancer cells, spinach, kale, mustard greens, Swiss chard and romaine lettuce are all great greens to add your diet. Although each of these veggies deserve a place on your plate, spinach should definitely be your go-to if you have to pick just one—especially if you’re a fan of red meat. Why? Popeye’s go-to green contains compounds that can actually block the carcinogenic organic compound PhIP, which is abundant in cooked red meat, say Oregon State University researchers. To reap the benefits, sauté spinach, mustard greens or Swiss chard with olive oil, onions, and garlic for a quick and simple side dish.
32. Sweet Red Peppers
Lycopene, a phytonutrient that gives fruits and veggies their red hue, has been shown to help lower the risk of developing prostate cancer. To reap the benefits add veggies like tomatoes and sweet reap peppers to your diet a few times a week. Lycopene from food cooked with a little fat is better absorbed into the body than raw foods eaten without fat. Tomatoes cooked in olive oil, for example, release more lycopene into the body than do raw tomatoes
Looking for another excuse to sneak some more cauliflower rice into your diet? The white veggie is filled with a compound called indole-3-carbinol, which has been shown to repair your DNA and thwart cancer.
This popular root vegetable (commonly found in smoothies and Asian-style dishes) is packed with gingerol, a powerful cancer suppressing compound. Scientific minds say it’s particularly effective at warding off colon cancer.to a compound called pterostilbene. Goodbye Pepto Bismol, hello Pterostilbene!