Every June, we pay tribute to dads everywhere by celebrating Father’s Day. But did you know that June is also Men’s Health Month? That’s right. And the week leading up to Father’s Day is deemed Men’s Health Week to bring awareness to all of the preventable health issues that plague the men in our lives.
It’s a fact that men have higher mortality rates due to chronic disease conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. But we also know that a healthy lifestyle, including good nutrition, can make a huge, positive impact on overall health. Here are five essential foods that every man should include in his diet.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
A staple of the Mediterranean diet, olive oil is an excellent source of monounsaturated fats. Multiple studies have confirmed that good fats such as olive oil reduce heart disease risk. Recent studies have shown that olive oil gets even more bonus points for heart health. One of the major polyphenols – or plant-based micronutrients – found in olive oil known as hydroxytyrosol (HT) can actually protect the cells lining the walls of our blood vessels. Strong blood vessels help keep blood flow regular and protect against clotting and hardening of the arteries.
And, good news for those suffering from arthritis and joint pain: in addition to its heart-protective properties, scientists have also found that freshly-pressed olive oil contains a compound that can be as effective as ibuprofen at reducing inflammation.
Garbanzo beans, also known as chickpeas, are part of the legume family and come with a whole host of health benefits. One cup of these nut-like beans gives you 15 grams of vegetarian-friendly protein, as well as 12.5 grams of fiber. A recent study found that the fiber in garbanzo beans may be even more beneficial to human nutrition than fiber obtained from other foods. Subjects who consumed garbanzo beans as their fiber source had better blood-fat regulation than those who consumed other types of dietary fiber, with benefits including lower total cholesterol, triglycerides, and reduced LDL.
Garbanzo beans are also a good source of zinc, a mineral responsible for hundreds of reactions in the body such as muscle growth and repair and a healthy immune system. Zinc is also thought to play an important role in male fertility, improving sperm count, motility, and form.
Eggs are a high-quality protein source loaded with antioxidants, amino acids, and other nutrients. Eggs are a good source of vitamin B12, which is essential to a healthy nervous system. As we age, it becomes more difficult to absorb vitamins such as B12, and including dietary sources can help prevent mood disorders such as depression as well as dementia.
Don’t shy away from the yolks unless you’ve been diagnosed with heart disease; they’re full of naturally-occurring B vitamins and choline, an essential nutrient for maintaining liver health. Early research has also shown choline to be effective at reducing the frequency and severity of attacks among asthma sufferers.
When selecting eggs, opt for organic when possible. Not only do they have a higher nutritional quality, the organic certification ensures your eggs are free from antibiotics and hormones.
Tomatoes are one of the top foods containing lycopene, a potent antioxidant responsible for giving tomatoes their bright red hue. In addition to protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays, the antioxidants in tomatoes are also known for their ability to reduce the risk of prostate cancer in men. A plant-based nutrient known as alpha-tomatine can actually trigger cell death in existing prostate cancer cells and alter activity in cells that are developing.
Multiple studies have also shown that a diet rich in tomatoes can ward off heart disease and reduce the risk of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Unlike other produce, tomatoes are one of the few foods that is even more nutritious when cooked than when eaten raw.
An 8-ounce serving of yogurt is a good source of calcium, and in addition to keeping bones strong also boosts the body’s fat-burning capabilities. Plus, yogurt is a great source of probiotics – the good bacteria living in your gut. Researchers are still at the infancy of understanding the effect probiotics have on overall health, but so far, we know the live and active cultures in foods like yogurt can keep both our digestive and immune systems in tip-top shape. Athletes who include these “good bugs” in their diet are thought to be less likely to suffer from upper respiratory infections like the common cold. Fewer sick days means less time away from your training goals.
Go Greek to get the most protein-packed punch from your yogurt and add your own fruit to avoid a surplus of sugar.
The Essential Vitamin for Men’s Health
Most men can meet their daily nutritional needs from a well-balanced diet, but vitamin D may be one exception. Recent studies suggest that a vitamin D deficiency may increase the risk of colon cancer as well as heart disease.
The recommended daily allowance for adults is 600 international units (IU), though most health professionals recommend taking a 1,000 IU daily supplement. Because of the potential for interactions with medications and possible side effects, you should talk to your doctor before starting new supplements.
Max Muscle Nutrition Recommends: Max Neutraceuticals Vitamin D 1,000 IU. MS&F