The Top 15 Foods For Men’s Health: A Very Special Feature In Celebration Of My Dad’s 60th Birthday

Hello everyone! I am here today with a VERY special article in celebration of my dad’s 60th birthday.

My dad, also named Andy, is awesome and deserves this special feature.

So, let’s take a look at my no nonsense list of the 15 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 15

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. And hey, if you don’t like tofu or soy milk, the least you can do is have some edamame!

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/Bran-based Cereals:  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. Don’t like oatmeal? Bran based cereal offers a similar nutritional profile and much of the benefits that oatmeal does.

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.

Ground Flaxseed: Flax is famous for being one of the premier sources of plant-based Omega 3 fatty acids but also happens to be a great source of soluble + prebiotic fibre ( meaning it’s good for your gut, and your heart). There is also some evidence to suggest that flaxseed intake is helpful in preventing prostate cancer and even more evidence that it helps with symptoms of an enlarged prostate ( also known as BPH).

Pears, 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: 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, pecans 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/Pulses:  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.  Lentils, chickpeas, navy beans… they all work!

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. As an added bonus, as long as you don’t have IBS, they are also great foods for your gut health and regularity!

Pumpkin Seeds:  Among the richest sources, per serving, of magnesium that you will find in our food system. There is some evidence to suggest that magnesium intake may play a role in modulating testosterone levels in men. The interesting thing about this point is that a significant proportion of Canadian males do not consume enough magnesium in their diet, and this problem increases with age. Upping your magnesium intake may also give you a boost on the toilet as well!

Popcorn:  Let’s face it, guys love chips. It’s a statistical fact! The problem with chips, however, is that they generally have an absurd amount of calories per serving. Popcorn, on the other hand, is a “fun” food that when served simply, has a fraction of the calories of chips and can be enjoyed much more liberally.

Artichoke:  I’ve discussed the merits of soluble fibre already today, but what you may not know is that a medium artichoke, unconventional as it may be to some, contains a whopping and difficult to match 10 grams of soluble fibre and is among the ultimate choices to help get blood sugar and cholesterol under better control.

Red Bell Pepper ( Sauteed): Sauteed red bell peppers are the second great source of prostate-protective lycopene behind tomatoes and are also among the richest sources of vitamin C. Why does that matter? Well, if you take my advice today and starting eating more legumes and tofu, the extra vitamin C at your meals will be particularly helpful because the iron found in these foods is not absorbed as well as the iron in meat UNLESS you eat it with a source of vitamin C.  Thank me later.

Happy 60th Dad! Hope you, and everyone else reading, enjoyed my top 15 foods for superior men’s health.

Although you don’t necessarily need to eat every single food on this list to be healthy, 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