6 Best Foods for Men’s Health
You know that a healthy diet is necessary for optimal health, but are you eating enough of the specific foods you need to benefit from nutrients proved to protect against common men’s health concerns? Erectile dysfunction, muscle recovery after exercise, depression, cognitive impairment, infertility, and more — check out which foods might help protect you from men’s health issues.
“Oysters contain more zinc per serving than any other food,” says Samantha Treyve, MS, RD, a registered dietitian at One Medical Group in San Francisco. According to the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements, a 3-ounce serving of oysters contains 74 milligrams of zinc. Zinc is an essential micronutrient for prostate health: Low levels of zinc are associated with fertility issues and prostate disease. “The human body doesn’t store zinc naturally, so it’s important to make sure you get enough in your daily diet or through supplementation,” Treyve says. The recommended daily allowance for men is 11 mg.
Vitamin D deficiency may contribute to erectile dysfunction (ED). Getting enough vitamin D may help minimize the risk for ED by helping to reduce vascular damage caused by inflammation, according to a study published in 2012 in the journal Dermato-Endocrinology.
“Typically men with erectile dysfunction have higher markers of endothelial inflammation compared to the general population,” Treyve says, “and it’s thought that reducing this inflammation can help to improve blood flow.” A 3-ounce serving of wild-caught salmon contains 112 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin D.
Walnuts are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and phytochemicals, which may be beneficial for brain health. These supernutrients have shown effectiveness for helping to ward off depression and maintain cognitive function. Walnuts also counter the oxidative stress and inflammation that occur naturally with aging, according to a study published in 2014 in The Journal of Nutrition. A ¼-cup of walnuts provides 2.7 grams of omega-3 fats, Treyve says. That’s just over the daily recommended amount.
Gym rats need the right after-exercise nutrition routine to ensure muscle and fluid recovery. Chocolate milk could be an effective and affordable recovery beverage for many endurance athletes, according to a study by researchers in the department of nutrition, exercise, and health sciences at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington, published in 2012.
Low-fat chocolate milk has a 4-to-1 carb-to-protein ratio, which is similar to many commercial sports drinks. It also provides the needed fluids and sodium to aid in post-workout recovery. The study recommends drinking chocolate milk immediately after exercise and again two hours later.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and veggies are rich in fiber and contain phytonutrients that can help protect your heart, fight off fatigue, and keep you feeling good, Treyve says. Men, though, need more of this mix than women. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that men eat 2 cups of fruit and 2½ to 3 cups of veggies each day.
Fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables at each meal. Reserve the other side for whole grains and good-quality proteins, such as beans and nuts, moderate amounts of fish and poultry, and the occasional grass-fed red meat and dairy.
Tips to Get Started and Stay Committed
Simplify. Don’t become consumed with counting calories or measuring portion sizes, cautions Treyve. Instead, focus on color, variety, and freshness. Gradually your diet will become healthier and more delicious. Also start slowly. “Trying to make your diet healthy overnight isn’t realistic,” Treyve says. “Make small steps, like adding a salad to your diet once a day. As your small changes become habit, you can continue to add more healthy choices.”
Also, you don’t have to be perfect and you don’t have to eliminate foods you enjoy to have a healthy diet. “The long-term goal,” Treyve says, “is to feel good, have more energy, and reduce your likelihood of various chronic conditions.”