Diet and Men's Health: Foods to consider

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Did you know that men have a lower life expectancy than women because they are more likely to die of cancer, heart disease, or diabetes? Furthermore, men also tend to live on average 4-6 years fewer than females, with men living an average of 9 years of their lives in extremely poor health. Obesity, inactivity, inadequate diet, binge drinking, smoking, poor mental health, and reluctance to access health care services are some of the many factors that contribute to these health statistics.

If you are feeling alarmed, you should be! There has been a great deal of attention on women's health in addressing gender-specific gaps in care (although there is definitely still room for improvement); however in recent years, men's health has been heavily advocated for as well (e.g., Movember). In particular, many efforts are being placed on informing and helping men adopt a healthier lifestyle to decrease their risk of chronic disease and/or cancer and ideally live longer, healthier lives. 

Although there are many lifestyle factors to consider, in today's post we are focusing on foods that are important to men's health.  Check out the post below written by our colleague Andy the RD (Andy De Santis RD, MPH) to learn more about the foods he considers to be the top contenders for men's health. 

The Top 10 Foods For Men’s Health

Original blog post: http://andytherd.com/2016/09/21/the-top-10-foods-for-mens-health/

Happy Movember everyone!

I’m here today to help kick off this Men’s Health awareness month right by presenting a no non-sense list of the 10 foods that I think should be making their way into the diet of most men.

These foods are practical, economical and will help reduce your risk of chronic disease, improve digestive health and contribute to general well being  by addressing dietary shortcomings that are common in most men.

If you are a man, or have a man in your life (a brother, cousin, friend, uncle, dad, grandpa, lover etc) you will want to be sure these foods are on the top of their list.

My Men’s Health Top 10

Tofu: Aside from being rich in a host of essential nutrients, tofu serves two other important purposes. First of all, it replaces meat in meals, which most men eat too much of. Second, it contains soy protein, which can contribute to modest reductions in your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. For the exact same reason, I champion soy milk as an ideal alternative to cow’s milk. Think soy is going to lower your testosterone and make you less manly? Think again.

Tomatoes/Tomato Sauce: Pretty much all veggies are good veggies, but tomatoes have a special place in the world of men’s health because they contain a biochemical component known as lycopene, which is associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer in men. For those that may not know, prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed male cancer. 

Steel Cut Oatmeal: Unlike highly refined instant oatmeal varieties, Steel Cut Oats will not increase your blood sugar levels as much, or as quickly, after consumption (this is a good thing).  Steel Cut Oatmeal is also an excellent source of heart healthy soluble fibre, which can contribute to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.

Salmon/Trout/Mackerel:  Try to consume at least 6 oz of these fish varieties on a weekly basis as they contain two very important dietary components; Vitamin D & Omega 3 Fatty Acids. These components may be under consumed if certain foods (such as fish) are avoided, yet are extremely important for contributing to overall health and may reduce the risk of a variety of chronic diseases.

Apples, Bananas & Oranges: I like to eat, eat, eat apples and bananas. In all seriousness, apples and bananas are generally among the most widely available and affordable fruits in North America. They are easy to consume on the go and are great sources of numerous healthful compounds including soluble fibre and potassium (which has an important role in blood pressure regulation). 

Tree Nuts & Seeds: Enjoy a variety of nuts and seeds on a weekly basis, each have different types of heart healthy fats and perhaps more importantly are rich in fibre and magnesium, which many men lack in their diets. Almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, pecans, sunflower seeds, they’re all good. For those that may not know, tree nuts are actually an important part of the famous cholesterol-lowering Portfolio Diet.

Green Veggies: Probably the most important group of foods that any human should be eating on a regular basis. Broccoli, kale, spinach, brussels sprouts and the list goes on. These foods contain more nutrients and disease fighting compounds than I am willing to list, and should be consumed DAILY by pretty much every man, woman and child. Start by asking yourself the simple question, are you eating at LEAST 1 green leafy veggie daily? If not, it’s time to get cracking. 

Legumes: Much like tofu, one of the great benefits of legumes is that they are protein-rich meat replacements. Saturated fat out, soluble fibre in. Unlike meat, legumes are also an excellent source of magnesium and potassium, which most men need more of. Legumes are also well recognized as a food that can contribute to reduced LDL (bad) blood cholesterol levels and improved blood sugar control. Diabetes Canada specifically discusses the importance of legumes in their diabetes management guidelines.  

Avocado: Avocados have burst onto the scene in the past few years and become very popular household food items. Frankly, I couldn’t be happier as these little green gems are an important source of fibre, potassium and monounsaturated fats (which are associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and improvements to the blood cholesterol portfolio). If you don’t happen to like nuts/seeds (or you can’t eat them for health reasons) avocado is probably the closest equivalent food. Spread it on toast, throw it in salad, or eat them just like that with a spoon (which is what I do!). 

Allium Veggies: Onions, garlics, leeks, chives. These veggies often fly under the radar, yet they contain unique compounds that may contribute to the reduction of a variety of chronic diseases, including prostate cancer. It’s honestly very easy to go without eating these foods if you don’t make the effort to incorporate them into your diet. I know I’ve been guilty of this in the past. I honestly recommend throwing these in with your tomato sauce for the ultimate men’s health brew.

There you have it gents, my top 10 foods for superior men’s health. Of course there are a whole host of other healthy foods out there, but I consider these 10 to be among the most important foundation of any man’s diet.

You don’t necessarily need to eat every single food on this list to be healthy, but if you aren’t currently consuming one or more of these foods, and you don’t have a good reason for it, maybe it’s time to reconsider.

Until next time, 

Andy De Santis RD MPH

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A big thanks to Andy for letting us share his insight. We hope this post gave you, or a man in your life, some food for thought!

xo M & K

References:

Canadian Men's health Foundation: https://menshealthfoundation.ca/

Goldenberg, SL. (2014). Status of men's health in Canada: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4145701/