Foods Every Man Should Eat More Of
Men and women are built differently, that much is clear — but that’s not where the differences end. Unique health concerns and nutritional needs also separate the sexes. The foods featured on this list are chock-full of nutrients men need most, including omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, lycopene, magnesium, B vitamins, folate, antioxidants, vitamin E, and boron. These picks support sexual function, protect against prostate cancer, and reduce cardiovascular disease risk — to name just a few benefits.
1. Fatty fish
The American Heart Association recommends eating fish — particularly fatty fish — at least twice a week. Fatty fish are incredibly nutritious; some of the best picks include salmon, mackerel, lake and rainbow trout, tuna, anchovies, sardines, and herring. All are high in protein, low in saturated fat, and are rich in calcium and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
First, let’s talk fats. Ounce for ounce, wild coho salmon has about half the saturated fat content of a 95 percent lean beef patty, and slightly more protein. And unlike the saturated fat in that burger, which greatly increases the body’s production of blood cholesterol, the omega-3s found in fish have a cleansing effect on the circulatory system. They reduce blood viscosity and clotting and lower lipid levels and blood pressure. Omega-3s not only minimize your risk of stroke and heart attack by preventing the damage that causes them, they also help heal tissues damaged from poor circulation by promoting better blood flow.
For general health, they’re not so bad, either. Omega-3s reduce the bodily inflammation that contributes to many types of disease, and research suggests they may play a role in preventing Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. Salmon, mackerel, and sardines have the highest levels of healthy omega-3 fats, although all seven fish listed above are good sources.
Omega-3s aren’t the only nutritional benefits you’ll find in these fish, though. Tuna is a rich source of such minerals as selenium, magnesium, and potassium, as well as B vitamins, including niacin, B1, and B6. It’s also an excellent source of the amino acid tryptophan, which helps regulate appetite and improves sleep and mood. Salmon has high scores in all the same nutrients, in addition to being a good source of B12 and a concentrated source of vitamin D. Fatty fish are the richest food source on earth of naturally occurring vitamin D — salmon, tuna, and mackerel score particularly high. Sardines offer vitamin D, B12, and calcium (thanks to their edible bones). Herring, a close relative of the sardine, is often sold, packaged, and marketed as sardines. Herring is an excellent source of B12 and selenium, and a good source of B6 and phosphorus.
Oceans Alive, a division of the Environmental Defense Fund, lists many of these fatty fish on its Eco-Best list, meaning they’re not only good for you but they’re being caught or raised in ways that are also sustainable and healthy for the environment. If you’re worried about contaminants like mercury and industrial pollutants like PCBs, visit the Oceans Alive website for information on the levels of contamination in all types of fish, along with recommendations about how often you can safely incorporate them into your diet. A good rule of thumb: Smaller fatty fish, such as anchovies, herring, and sardines, tend to be lower in contaminants than larger fish.
2. Whole Oats
Oats are an excellent source of manganese and a good source of selenium, tryptophan, phosphorus, vitamin B1 (thiamin), dietary fiber, magnesium, and protein. One cup of cooked oats provides more than 6 grams of protein, more than almost all breakfast grains, particularly those that are corn- or wheat-based.
Harvard researchers who followed 21,376 participants over a period of nearly 20 years in the Physicians’ Health Study found that men who had a daily serving of whole-grain cereal had a 29 percent lower risk of heart failure. Oats contain a soluble fiber known as beta-glucan that provides numerous health benefits, from helping reduce fat in the blood to preventing hardening of the arteries that can lead to heart attacks, stroke, or dangerous blood clots. Not only does beta-glucan protect against cardiovascular disease, it also supports the body’s immune response by stimulating white blood cell activity. And it stabilizes blood sugar, lowering your risk of type 2 diabetes.
One of the best things about oatmeal is that it’s a perfect canvas for pairing with other tasty, healthy ingredients. Walnuts and flaxseed, for example, are even more concentrated in omega-3s than fatty fish; two tablespoons of flaxseed provides 146 percent of the amount recommended for a man’s daily diet, while a quarter cup of walnuts provides 95 percent of the daily recommended amount. Almonds and raisins are rich in boron, which enhances testosterone levels in men, helping build muscle and contributing to bone health.
Tomatoes and derivative products, such as tomato sauce and ketchup, contain many nutrients that support overall health, but there are two primary reasons they made this list: First, they’re a great source of the potent antioxidant lycopene; and second, unlike a couple of other lycopene contenders (namely, watermelon and guava), they’re available everywhere year-round.
Research shows a strong association between high lycopene consumption and lower rates of prostate cancer — the second-leading cause of cancer death in men. In addition to exhibiting preventive effects, lycopene also seems to inhibit the spread of existing cancer and to decrease malignancy. It has shown protective benefits against pancreatic cancer, which is more common in men than women and is one of the most fatal of all cancers, largely due to late diagnosis. Lycopene is also being studied for its effect on male fertility; research suggests that it may boost sperm concentrations in infertile men.
Finally, tomatoes contain phenolic acids, which combat lung cancer, the second most common cancer in men and by far the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women, according to the American Cancer Society.
Quick and healthy tip: Like oatmeal, think of tomato sauce as a base for other healthy ingredients, such as garlic, another potent cancer fighter and an excellent source of vitamin B6 (which combats fatigue and supports the nervous system). Garlic has been associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer and has shown protective benefits against colon cancer. Plus, it makes any tomato sauce taste better.
By Nikki Jong, Caring.com contributing editorShare