The Best Foods For An Enlarged Prostate [BPH]

An enlarged prostate, also referred to as benign prostate hyperplasia [BPH], is a relatively common concern that arises in men as they age.

I’ve seen estimates suggesting that it may affect up to half of the male population who are 60 and older.

Having an enlarged prostate does not increase one’s risk of prostate cancer, but interest around the role of diet for BPH generates a great deal of interest because the condition often comes paired with annoying symptoms related to urination that can significantly impact one’s quality of life.

These may include:

  • Increased frequency and urgency, including at night
  • Finding it difficult to start and finish urination
  • A weak stream that may stop or start sporadically

Prostate enlargement occurs gradually with age and so to may the related symptoms, but do will dietary and lifestyle changes help shrink the prostate and reduce the severity of BPH in men who have it?

Let’s find out!

Can Diet & Lifestyle Improve BPH?

In 2019,  Clinical Nutrition ESPEN released a summative paper outlining key actions for those wanting to improve their BPH through diet and lifestyle medication.

They identified three key areas for intervention

  1. Moderate physical activity 4-6 times per week*
  2. A dietary shift towards more plant-based protein
  3. Consideration for specific nutrients such as Vitamin D & Zinc as well as supplements like Saw Palmettto, Cermilton and Pygeum

I should clarify next that the quantity and quality of scientific evidence looking at the effects of changes in these areas on prostate size and symptoms is not great, but using what we have available to us let’s explore some of the conclusions from this paper.

* Men who walked 2 to 3 hours per week had a 25% lower risk of total BPH and in those who already have BPH as little as 1+ hour a week reduced night time urination risk

Shifting Towards Plant-Based Protein?

Plant-based protein sources include but are not limited to nuts, seeds and particularly all manner of legumes ranging from lentils to chickpeas to tofu and other soy-based foods.

My belief is that the vast majority of men would benefit from consuming these foods more often, and this may be especially true of those concerned about the size of their prostate.


Well both elevated LDL cholesterol and elevated blood sugar levels are risk factors for an enlarged prostate AND the plant-based protein sources listed above happen to be very effective at keeping the levels of both down over the medium to long-term.

High levels of red meat intake, which could be reduced through diversifying protein intake, is also a risk factor for BPH with an observational study out of Greece also identifying that high amounts of butter ( a source of saturated fat, like red meat) intake may increase one’s risk of BPH.

Nuts, seeds, legumes and soy are also rich dietary sources of zinc, a nutrient that is under consumed by about 1 in 3 adults and may have a unique role to play in prostate health.

I should also note that flaxseeds have generated additional interest in the world of prostate health and may be a wise choice to incorporate.

Do Supplements & Specific Nutrients Help?

Let’s explore that next!

Saw Palmetto & Other Supplements

The totality of scientific evidence looking at supplement use for improving prostate enlargement is very limited.

While Pygeum was mentioned in the ESPEN report, I found limited evidence to support their use – the same could be said for another popular supplement stinging nettle.

Another supplement of interest, beta-sitosterol, has also been studied in a limited capacity is commonly available and often paired with Saw Palmetto in prostate supplements sold online.

Even Saw Palmetto, perhaps the most well known and well studied prostate supplement, suffers from a lack of compelling evidence.

Recent meta-analysis data suggests that it is not effective reducing general BPH symptoms, but may reduce the frequency of night time wake up urination (nocturnia).

Rye grass pollen (Cernilton) may also help with nocturnia, but again the evidence is limited.

Any supplement carries the risk of side effects with inappropriate use, speak with your healthcare provider if you feel compelled to explore this aspect of BPH management.

Vitamin D

Low Vitamin D levels ( <50 nmol/L) are associated with larger prostate size and ensuring adequate Vitamin D intake and status is advisable for men with BPH.


Although the evidence is not definitive, there has been a long growing interest in the role of lycopene for prostate health and prostate cancer prevention.

Lycopene is a beneficial phytochemical found primarily in tomato, guava, watermelon, grapefruit, and papaya.

It is found in by far the largest amounts in tomato-based products like paste, sauce and even ketchup.

In 2008 the Journal of Nutrition conducted a study providing 15 mg per day of lycopene over a 6 month period to men with BPH and found that it stopped prostate enlargement and improved symptoms as compared to the placebo.

For reference, 15 mg of lycopene is about the amount found in 1/2 cup of tomato sauce or 2 cups of watermelon/guava.


As per a 2008 study out of Nature Clinical Practice Urology, individuals who consumed onion and garlic most frequently had a lower risk of BPH than those who did not.

Given the health benefits of onion and garlic in the absence of truly high level evidence, emphasizing their inclusion as part of a prostate-healthy diet still seems reasonable.

Final Thoughts

Upon conducting a thorough review of the available evidence, it is safe to say that while there is some intriguing stuff out there I cannot deny there isn’t much truly high quality evidence that strongly demonstrates specific dietary changes can shrink the prostate.

With that said, the evidence does point in a clear direction.

The incorporation of more plant-based protein sources and embracing a variety of specific fruits and vegetables may improve the symptoms of an enlarged prostate and will almost certainly improve your overall health as well.

If you require professional assistance incorporating today’s dietary guidance and insights into your daily life – I’m here to help.

Until next time,

Andy De Santis RD MPH