Good nutrition is important for everyone, but not every guy is getting the message. Fruit and vegetable consumption is coming up short, and about 35 percent of men over the age of 20 have obesity.
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Also, according to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, potassium, fiber, choline, magnesium, calcium and vitamins A, D, E and C are often underconsumed. So what's a guy to do? Add these 10 foods to your diet today. They'll satisfy your appetite and boost your health by filling in those missing nutrients and supporting weight management and other conditions important to men.
Want a juicy snack that will protect your prostate and your pumper? Grab a watermelon. The fruit is rich in lycopene, one of the most studied antioxidants in the fight against prostate cancer. Research shows that people who have high levels of lycopene in the blood are at lower risk for prostate cancer. The antioxidant may also boost heart health: One study found that two compounds in watermelon -- citrulline and arginine -- help support healthy blood flow. And it can also shield your skin from harmful UV rays, according to research, possibly helping you ward off wrinkles down the line. (Hey, it's not just the ladies who worry about wrinkles!) Watermelon is also an excellent source of vitamins A and C -- two nutrients men aren't getting enough of. You can enjoy one cup of diced watermelon for a mere 50 calories.
Looking to spice things up…in the kitchen? Try turmeric. This golden-hued spice has long been a staple of Indian cuisine and has also been used in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. Modern-day research is revealing that a compound found in turmeric called curcumin may be responsible for all its benefits. The spice has been shown to be a potent anti-inflammatory, which has led scientists to explore its use in diseases ranging from rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis to neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer's disease. It's estimated that approximately 1.9 million American men have Alzheimer's disease. Add turmeric to your next curry, or use it on chicken or fish before grilling.
3. Whole Grains
Let's face it -- life just tastes better with carbs. Imagine having to bypass bagels, bread and baguettes for the rest of your days. No thanks! Still, there's something to be said about being choosy about your carbs. If you opt for whole grains over white, refined carbs, you can satisfy your craving while providing your body with key nutrients, including fiber, which most men are seriously lacking (as in, eating less than half of the recommended amount on a daily basis). A number of studies support the connection between whole-grain foods and a reduced risk for coronary heart disease, the number-one killer of American men. Whole grains are also an optimal source of energy, so you'll have plenty of fuel for your workouts and daily activities. And don't worry too much about carbs making you fat: A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating whole grains was associated with reduced body fat. Pass the (whole-grain) pasta, please!
Are you a potato-phobe? Most people steer clear of this starchy food because they think of it as an empty-calorie side dish. But believe it or not, potatoes can be a part of a successful weight-loss plan. Research from the University of California, Davis, found that people who followed a reduced-calorie diet containing potatoes all lost weight over a 12-week period. No surprise here: It's reducing total calories that counts, not cutting out a specific food. Another potato perk: It's a great source of potassium. In fact, a medium spud with the skin contains more than a banana. Potassium plays a key role in controlling blood pressure (it lessens the effects of sodium), making it crucial for men because more than 30 percent of guys over the age of 20 have hypertension. Most men need about 4,700 milligrams every day and aren't getting enough, so dig into a baked or roasted potato and enjoy!
It's time to show the overlooked lentil some love, fellas. Low in calories and fat, but high in protein, fiber and potassium, lentils have been shown to help reduce blood sugar and cut the risk for developing diabetes. In fact, one study found that lentils benefit the blood sugar response not only during the meal in which they're eaten, but also at the subsequent meal enjoyed four hours later. They can also help your ticker. Research indicates that lentils can help reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol, the risk of heart attacks and inflammation in the arteries. If that's not enough to make you love lentils, check out this stat: A national survey found that people who ate lentils four times or more per week had a 22 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease compared to those who consumed them less than once a week. That's great news, especially since the latest available data show that one in every four men in the U.S. is killed by heart disease.
Egg lovers were shocked a few years back when studies suggested the beloved breakfast food clogged arteries. But we now know that nutrient-packed eggs can be part of a healthy diet. They provide high-quality protein and antioxidants. An egg has more than 10 essential nutrients, including iron, vitamin D, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin and choline. Few foods naturally contain vitamin D, which is key for keeping up testosterone levels. Also, most animal-based proteins lack antioxidants, making eggs a smart addition to your diet. And take note if you're trying to tone up. You may want to enjoy an egg after your workout. An egg-based meal can help aid in muscle recovery by providing the essential amino acids necessary to repair tissues and increase strength, research suggests. Aim to get about 20 to 30 grams of protein at each meal -- especially post-exercise.
Pass on greasy potato chips and nosh on some pistachios instead. A one-ounce serving -- about 49 nuts -- delivers a variety of vitamins, minerals and beneficial nutrients. In fact, research suggests that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, such as pistachios, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk for heart disease. Pistachios are also a triple threat against weight gain. They're one of the lowest-fat and lowest-calorie nuts, with just 160 calories per ounce. They're also a good source of fiber, which can help you stay full. Not to mention that removing the shell can help slow you down and also serves as a reminder of how much you've eaten, so you may just end up consuming less. In one study, people who ate in‐shell pistachios consumed 41 percent fewer calories than those who snacked on pistachios without shells.
Sure, you may be a manly meat-eater, but the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend cutting saturated fat, and one of the best ways to do this is to limit or avoid red meat. Worried about your protein intake? Time to bring some beans into your diet. Not only are they excellent sources of protein, they're also easy on your wallet, especially when you compare them to lean protein sources like fresh fish. Are you a fan of navy and black beans? These two bean types are especially high in magnesium, a nutrient men are often lacking.
Walnuts, like other tree nuts (pistachios, almonds and pecans, etc.), are heart helpers, making them a must-eat for men. And while all nuts are great for men, walnuts have been shown to help make sperm healthier and stronger in younger men. Walnuts are also unique in that they're the only nut to contain a significant amount of omega-3s, which may help with brain health and warding off depression.
When we think of vitamin C, we often think of citrus fruits. But move over, oranges: Strawberries are also a good source of this vitamin -- providing more than 80 percent of the Daily Value -- which most men aren't getting enough of. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that supports our immune system and hearth health -- it even helps prevent arthritis. Osteoarthritis is more common in men before the age of 45, and one out of every three people over the age of 65 will be affected by the condition.
- NIH: Prostate Cancer, Nutrition, and Dietary Supplements–for health professionals (PDQ®) -- Lycopene
- Urology. 2011 Jan;77(1):119-22. doi: 10.1016/j.urology.2010.08.028. Oral L-citrulline supplementation improves erection hardness in men with mild erectile dysfunction. Cormio L1, De Siati M, Lorusso F, Selvaggio O, Mirabella L, Sanguedolce F, Carrieri G.
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- USDA Nutrient Database: Watermelon
- CDC: Men's Health
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- Potatoes, Glycemic Index, and Weight Loss in Free-Living Individuals: Practical Implications. Journal of the American College of Nutrition Volume 33, Issue 5, 2014. Jody M. Randolph BAa, Indika Edirisinghe PhDd, Amber M. Masoni BSc, Tissa Kappagoda MD PhDb &amp; Britt Burton-Freeman PhD MS.
- Nutrient timing revisited: is there a post-exercise anabolic window? Alan Albert Aragon and Brad Jon SchoenfeldEmail author Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition201310:5
- Potential Therapeutic Effects of Curcumin, the Anti-inflammatory Agent, Against Neurodegenerative, Cardiovascular, Pulmonary, Metabolic, Autoimmune and Neoplastic Diseases. Bharat B. Aggarwal1 and Kuzhuvelil B. Harikumar. Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2009; 41(1): 40–59.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin C
- FDA: Qualified Health Claims: Letter of Enforcement Discretion - Nuts and Coronary Heart Disease (Docket No 02P-0505)
- Appetite. 2011 Oct;57(2):414-7. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2011.02.022. Epub 2011 May 27. In-shell pistachio nuts reduce caloric intake compared to shelled nuts. Honselman CS1, Painter JE, Kennedy-Hagan KJ, Halvorson A, Rhodes K, Brooks TL, Skwir K.