Men: Eat These 9 Plant-Based Foods for Health
Hey guys, are you interested in staying healthy and fit for years to come? Then you’ll definitely want to power up on the 9 top plant-powered foods linked with optimal men’s health. Indeed, there are a number of plant-based foods, from veggies and beverages to nuts and whole grains, that can help provide exceptional men’s health benefits, including heart protection and prostate cancer defense. So, listen up, men; incorporate these 9 healthy plant-powered foods into your diet for optimal health and beyond!
Men: Eat These 9 Plant-Powered Foods for Health
1. Tomatoes. Tomatoes provide a great source of the carotenoid, lycopene, in the diet. Studies suggest that lycopene may help prevent prostate cancer through its antioxidant action that might inhibit cancer cell proliferation. Pizza, chili, spaghetti—tomatoes are the ultimate star in food guys love, and they’re so easy. Canned, jarred, dried, and fresh are all great for health and bring on flavor for good eating.
2. Green Leafy Vegetables. Eating your greens means getting a healthy dose of vitamins, including vitamins C and K, and minerals, such as iron and calcium. But leafy greens are also packed with powerful plant compounds called carotenoids that work as antioxidants in the body, which have several health benefits, including inhibiting the growth of some cancers. Lutein, one of those carotenoids, may protect eyesight. As men grow older, it may come as no surprise that their vision may begin to decline. In fact, it is projected that the number of people over the age of 50 with macular degeneration (age-related vision loss) will double by 2050. Take care of your eyes by incorporating more lutein in your diet through foods like leafy greens, such as kale, spinach, and collards.
3. Coffee and Green Tea. Need a reason to justify your love for coffee? Research has found that people consuming coffee and green tea have lower incidence of prostate cancer. Experts speculate that the polyphenols found in these drinks have an antioxidant effect that helps rid the body of free radicals which are often associated with cancer onset. Studies also show that coffee drinkers may have a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and some cancers. Just be careful not to pile on the cream and sugar though, as that will add extra fat and calories to the diet.
4. Soy Foods. Rich in protein, fiber, and many important nutrients, soy foods should be a part of every guy’s diet. Research shows that men eating soy-rich diets may reduce risk of prostate cancer, as well as a lower risk of dying from certain cancers. Soy foods, including edamame, tofu, tempeh, and soy milk, are also a good source of calcium. While we often think that women are the only ones who face declining bone mass with age, bone health is just as important for men. Men reach their peak bone mass at around the age of 20. A diet rich in calcium and vitamin D is essential in maintaining bone health. Men should consume at least 1,000 milligrams, or about two servings, of calcium-rich foods, like soy foods, daily. Incorporate edamame into salads, soups, or just snack it on its own, switch dairy milk to soy, and add tofu and tempeh to stir fries, scrambles, and wraps.
5. Nuts. Almonds, pistachios, walnuts, cashews, peanuts—there are so many wonderful varieties to enjoy. The crazy part is how something that tastes so good can be so good for you! They’re packed with many important nutrients, but perhaps most notably, they’re a good source of heart healthy monounsaturated fatty acids. Research shows that eating nuts is associated with lowering blood cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels, and improved blood sugar levels, important in reducing risk of type 2 diabetes. So, go nuts! Whichever you choose and whether you eat them as a snack or whipped into a recipe, know that you’re doing something good for yourself. Just be aware of serving size, as a little goes a long way. One serving is about a quarter cup, or a handful.
6. Flaxseeds. Adding flaxseed to your diet is another strategy to help support heart health. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, flaxseeds may help lower cholesterol levels. Flaxseeds are also high in fiber, which means eating them helps you feel full. This can help with weight loss and healthy weight management. You can easily incorporate ground flaxseed, which is easier to digest than whole flaxseed, into your daily routine. Start your day by adding it to your breakfast cereal, yogurt, or smoothie, mix it into salad and sandwich dressings and sauces, or get creative by adding it to your favorite recipes.
7. Oatmeal. Jumpstart your day with a bowl of oatmeal. Oatmeal is rich in beta-glucan, a fiber which helps lower cholesterol, which makes it a good choice for heart health. Fiber also is useful in helping you feel full for longer, which may prevent overeating later in the day, and it helps regulate blood sugar. Men should strive to consume 38 grams of fiber daily. Add your favorite plant-based milk, fruit, nuts and spice like cinnamon or cocoa powder to your morning bowl of steaming oatmeal, give oat milk a try, go savory with oats as a side dish.
8. Bananas. Consuming enough potassium each day is important for maintaining healthy blood pressure levels. Fruits and vegetables, particularly bananas, are a great source of potassium (1 medium banana has 450 milligrams). Grab a banana for a mid-afternoon snack or top your oatmeal and flaxseed with sliced bananas in the morning and you will be well on your way to achieving the recommended 4,700 milligrams you need each day. (Hint: Those green leafy vegetables are also great sources of potassium!)
9. Avocados. These days, it’s all about avocados—and for good reason! When a food that tastes this good is even better for your health, it’s time to love it. Avocados contain nearly 20 vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, including potassium and fiber, which may reduce risk of heart disease and diabetes. They’re also a great source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Creamy and rich in flavor, it’s easy to enjoy avocado on toast, in sandwiches and salads, in smoothies and guacamole.
Bonus: Don’t Forget Exercise
While a well-rounded diet is important, every guy should add exercise as an important component for health. Men should shoot for 30 to 60 minutes of regular exercise per day. Aerobic exercise should be incorporated most days of the week with the addition of weight strengthening 2 to 3 days a week.
For other tips for men’s health, check out:
Written by Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN and Amanda Lambrechts on May 28, 2015; updated on November 25, 2020