Many foods that tend to be favorites among men aren’t necessarily the best choices for good health. Just like women, men need certain nutrients, and a healthy diet and regular physical activity can help prevent heart disease and cancer, the No. 1 and No. 2 killers for men over 35.
Eating the right foods can also enhance performance, as well as maintain muscle mass and prevent prostate cancer. But what are these foods?
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“Nutrients that are good for the heart improve circulation to all parts of the body, and these same nutrients provide a layer of protection against cancer and other chronic diseases,” says Christine Gerbstadt, a Florida-based physician and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.
No. 1: Oysters
Are oysters really the food of love? Well, it’s true that just a few oysters each day will deliver a full day’s supply of the antioxidant mineral zinc, which is involved in hundreds of body processes, from producing DNA to repairing cells.
“Research shows that adequate zinc may protect against cellular damage that leads to prostate cancer,” says Grotto. “Sexual functioning of the male reproductive system, including increased sperm counts, is also enhanced with zinc.”
What To Eat: In addition to oysters, you can also get your daily recommended dose of 11 milligrams a day by eating other shellfish, lean beef, lean pork, or legumes.
No. 2: Bananas
Bananas are a great portable source of quick energy and are rich in potassium, which is needed to regulate nerves, heartbeat and, especially, blood pressure. Diets rich in potassium and magnesium (which is also found in bananas) can reduce the risk of stroke. As a super source of vitamin B-6, bananas can also aid your immune system, help form red blood cells, ensure a well-functioning nervous system, and assist protein metabolism.
What To Eat: So enjoy a banana each day, at breakfast on your whole grain-cereal or before your workout at the gym. Not a banana fan? Orange juice, milk, tomato products, and beans are other good sources of dietary potassium.
No. 3: Fatty Fish
No list of superfoods would be complete without the healthy fat, omega-3 fatty acids.
“Omega-3 fatty acids are potent anti-inflammatory foods that can help lower triglyceride [blood fat] levels, reduce aches and pains in athletes, and offer relief with certain kinds of arthritis,” says Bauer.
“Fatty fish are also a good source of vitamin D, a nutrient that tends to be deficient in our diets and can help prevent cancer, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and bone disease,” says Bauer.
What To Eat: Fatty fish (salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel, herring) are the richest sources of omega-3 fatty acids. In fact the American Heart Association recommends that everyone eat fish twice weekly.
No. 4: Broccoli
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli are helpful in preventing heart disease and cancer. They’re loaded with vitamin C, beta-carotene, potassium, and a phytochemical called sulphoraphane, which has strong anticancer (prostate and colon) properties.
A recent Harvard study found that participants who had five servings a week of cruciferious vegetables were half as likely as others to develop heart disease, stroke and bladder cancer, a cancer that affects two to three times as many men as women.
What To Eat: Don’t care for broccoli? Go for other cruciferous choices like cabbage, bok choy, shredded broccoli slaw, cabbage, cauliflower, or Brussels sprouts.
No. 5: Brazil Nuts
These large nuts from Brazil are packed with magnesium and selenium, powerful antioxidants that may help prevent heart disease and cancer and protect prostate health.