June is Men’s Health month and its time to show our guys some nutritional love! Not only is this month focused on men’s health and health care, but also around men’s mental and emotional health, both of which are just as important as nutritional health! While most of the dietary requirements are similar to women, there are a few key nutrients and amounts that are specifically important to men.
Key Nutrients for Men’s Health:
Lycopene – Giving tomatoes, grapefruit, watermelons and more their pinkish-red appearance, lycopene is a vital antioxidant found in these colored fruits and vegetables. In recent years, lycopene has been closely studied and has shown to reduce risk for cardiovascular disease, sunburn, but more specifically reducing the risk of prostate cancer. This is extremely important because the prostate is a gland that is exclusive to male bodies. Consuming more tomato product such as whole tomatoes, salsa, ketchup, even marinara may be helpful to increase lycopene consumption, decreasing your risk for these diseases
Fiber – We all know that fiber is the essential nutrient that many are not getting enough of. Fiber is known to help lower cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar, keep us full, and can also lower your risk of digestive upsets such as constipation and diverticulosis. While it may be known we all need more fiber, it may come as a surprise that men actually need MORE fiber than others! It is recommended that men consume 38 grams per day! That may seem like quite a large amount of fiber however, but by making small choices to add fiber-packed foods and snacks throughout the day, you can work your way up to the goal of 38 grams. High fiber foods such as almonds, black beans, air-popped popcorn or even raspberries are quick and easy snacks that are sure to taste great and get you to your fiber goals. Be sure to consume more water as you boost your fiber intake
Zinc – Now for the manliest of minerals, zinc is a well-studied mineral for health, and more particularly, men’s health. Zinc is known to help support a healthy immune system, but it is also key to reduce men’s risk of prostate cancer, support testosterone production, as well as supporting heart health. Try incorporating more zinc rich foods like meats like beef and lamb, and nuts like cashews, and of course whole grains!
Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Our most helpful and healthful of the fats, omega-3’s are a type of fat that we should embrace with open arms and open mouths. Omega-3’s are great for heart health, brain function and health, as well as lowering your risk for cognitive disease like Alzheimer’s. While omega-3’s are a powerhouse they are not a cure all so be sure to keep a variety of foods in your diet and include in the best sources of omega-3’s like salmon, trout, bluefin tuna, anchovies, and even seeds and nuts like whole flaxseeds or chia seeds and walnuts (which are even brain shaped for your brain health).
Antioxidants – While broad as a type of nutrient, antioxidants are abundant and easier to eat without even trying! Antioxidants help our bodies fight of cancer-causing free radicals that can cause a lot of harm and damage to our bodies in a variety of different ways such as cancer, arthritis, vision complications and more. The best way to fill your body with these tiny but mighty fighters is to consumer a variety of colors of fruits and vegetables, about 2 cups of each fruits and vegetables per day, according to the CDC. My favorite antioxidant packed foods are 80% cacao dark chocolate, blueberries and kale!
Article co-authored by: Jessica Skeffington, Dietetic Intern