Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
Men have some special needs when it comes to diet, and many studies suggest that eating the right foods can keep the prostate healthy and testosterone levels balanced. If you’re a man, try these guy-friendly foods:
Are the number-one food source of zinc, which blocks the enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen. Deficiencies are linked to low testosterone, and boosting zinc leads to a significant increase in testosterone levels. Zinc is especially important if you train hard, since intense exercise can deplete testosterone. In one study, elite wrestlers who took zinc daily maintained testosterone levels after a month of high-intensity training. Other good sources: red meat, chicken, crab, lobster, beans, nuts, and organ meats.
A fatty fish like tuna, salmon, and sardines, is one of the best food sources of vitamin D. Studies have shown that vitamin D can increase testosterone levels, often dramatically. In one study, people who spent more time in the sun showed increased vitamin D levels, and testosterone levels increased as well. In another study, men who took vitamin D daily increased testosterone levels by almost 25 percent. The sun is still the best source of vitamin D, but if you don’t get out much-or can’t tolerate fatty fish-you’ll also find D in raw milk, caviar, and eggs.
Are loaded with lycopene, an antioxidant that’s been shown to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Better than raw: cook them with olive oil (as in pasta sauce); most research shows that lycopene is better absorbed when tomatoes are cooked with olive oil. That effect was not found when tomatoes were cooked with sunflower oil or other kinds of oil. And add some chopped broccoli to your sauce. In one study, a combination of tomato and broccoli was more effective at slowing tumor growth than either tomato or broccoli alone.
Is rich in magnesium, which can lower the body’s levels of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), a compound that binds to free testosterone and makes it inactive. In one study, boosting magnesium intake resulted in a 24 percent increase in free testosterone levels. Optimal magnesium status has also been linked with higher testosterone levels in observational studies. Other foods rich in magnesium include pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, chard, halibut, and almonds.
Prostate specific antigen (PSA) is a blood marker for prostate cancer. Men whose PSA levels double in a short period of time have a higher risk of death from prostate cancer, and pomegranate appears to slow PSA increases. In one study, a cup of pomegranate juice per day significantly reduced PSA doubling time. Studies show that pomegranate extract can slow the growth of prostate cancer cells, and may lead to apoptosis-cell death-in cancer cells. As a bonus, another study found that 47 percent of impotent men improved after drinking a glass of pomegranate juice daily.
6. Collard greens
Are one of the best dietary sources of vitamin K, which protects against prostate cancer. In one study of 11,000 men, high intake of vitamin K2 was linked to a 63 percent lower risk of prostate cancer. Collards are also high in vitamin C, which may work with vitamin K to protect the prostate. In another study, a group of prostate cancer patients showed tumor cell destruction after supplementation with vitamins C and K. Other good sources of vitamin K: spinach, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, salad greens, cabbage, green beans, and lentils.
7. Pumpkin seeds
Can help prevent benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a common condition that enlarges the prostate gland and can cause problems with urination and, occasionally, sexual function. In several studies, pumpkin seed oil reduced symptoms of BPH, improved urinary function in men with overactive bladders, and improved quality of life. Studies also suggest that pumpkin seeds can slow the growth of prostate cancer cells.
Is high in omega-3 fats, which have powerful immune-enhancing and anti-inflammatory effects and can reduce the risk of prostate cancer. (Though one study suggested that omega-3 fats increased prostate cancer risk, that research has been largely discredited.) Eat tuna sandwiches with a slice of avocado, and you’ll increase your prostate protection: avocados are rich in vitamin E and lutein, and have been shown to inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells.
Did You Know? In addition to omega-3s, tuna is a good dietary source of zinc.
In addition to reducing inflammation, may also increase testosterone levels and improve sexual function. In one study, infertile men took ginger daily, and after three months, they showed a 17 percent increase in testosterone levels. Other studies have found testosterone levels nearly doubled after ginger intake-as the amount of ginger increased, so did testosterone levels.