1 Tomato Sauce – Men who eat a lot of tomatoes, tomato sauce, or pizza smothered with the stuff may be giving themselves a hedge against prostate cancer. So say researchers at Harvard University, who studied the eating habits of more than 47,000 male health professionals. They found that men who ate tomato sauce two to four times per week had a 35 per cent lower risk of developing prostate cancer than men who ate none. A carotenoid called lycopene, which tomatoes contain in abundance, appeared to be responsible. But scientists were puzzled: tomato juice didn’t seem to have a protective effect. Other research show why. For best absorption, lycopene should be cooked with some kind of fat. So pizza may be just what the doctor ordered.
2 Oysters – Myth has it that oysters are the food of love. Science may agree. Just two to three oyster deliver a full day’s supply of zinc, a mineral critical for normal functioning of the male reproductive system. Scientists are divided over reports that sperm counts have declined over the last 50 years and that environmental factors are to blame. Nutritional deficiencies do seem to be the cause of certain cases of low testosterone. Getting adequate zinc is sometimes the answer (up to 15 milligrams per day is recommended for men; more than 40 milligrams can pose risk). In one trial, 22 men with low testosterone level and sperm counts were given zinc every day for 45 to 50 days. Testosterone levels and sperm counts rose.
3 Broccoli – A recent Harvard study finds that cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, may protect against bladder cancer which is common among Asian men. Scientists analysed the diets of nearly 50,000 men and discovered that those who ate five servings or more per week of cruciferous veggies were half as likely to develop bladder cancer over a ten-year period as men who rarely ate them. And broccoli and cabbage were singled out as the most protective foods.
4 Peanut butter – If you want a healthy heart, spread your morning toast with peanut butter. Heart disease is the leading killer of men and women, but men fall victim at an earlier age. Researchers from Pennsylvania State University compared the cholesterol-lowering effect of the step II Diet of the America Heart Association (AHA) with a higher-fat diet based on peanuts. The AHA plan included more carbohydrates. The peanut regimen was 36 per cent fat. After 24 days both diets lowered “bad” LDL cholesterol. But the peanut plan also caused a drop in blood fats called triglycerides and did not decrease HDL, the “good” cholesterol. The AHA diet raised levels of triglycerides and lowered levels of HDL. “Peanut butter is a little higher in fat,” says Penny Kris-Etherton, the lead author of the study. “But it’s the type that’s good for you – monounsaturated fat.” Researchers have predicted that the peanut diet could reduce heart-disease risk even more than the AHA diet could. Just don’t go nutty plastering on the tasty spread, since it is high in kilojoules.
5 Watermelon – Until the age of 55, more men suffer from high blood pressure than do women. Research suggests that foods rich in potassium can reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke. The evidence is so convincing that the US Food and Drug Administration recently allowed food labels to bear a health claim about the connection between potassium-rich foods and high blood pressure. “A good goal for potassium is about 2000 milligrams or more a day,” says Antigone Blazos, a lecturer at Asia Pacific Health and Nutrition Centre in Melbourne, Australia. Watermelon is a rich source of this mineral and has more potassium – 664 milligrams – in just one large slice than the amount found in banana or a glass of orange juice. So cut yourself another slice and enjoy its cool taste.
There you have it: five great foods for men that can keep both of you well fed and healthy at the same time.