Five foods men shouldn’t be without

Posted on: 28 June 2017 by Rob Hobson

Having a balanced nutrient-rich diet is essential for life but there are some food groups that are particularly important for men.

Men have different requirements for certain nutrients than women, which relates to the needs put upon them by their body. Disease rates differ between men and women in the UK so choosing certain foods may also help to target the health issues that affect men and their increased need for certain nutrients.

Here are five foods that all men should try and stock up on each week.

Salmon

Salmon

Fresh salmon is one of the richest sources of essential omega 3 fatty acids. Other oily fish include fresh tuna, herring, mackerel and trout as well as canned salmon, pilchards and sardines. Intake in the UK is well below the recommended intake of one serving per week, with many men not eating any oily fish at all.

Heart disease is the leading cause of premature death in the UK affecting more men than women. Oily fish have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease as part of a balanced diet and active lifestyle. This is because they increase levels of good (HDL) cholesterol and produce compounds known as prostaglandins that help to reduce inflammation in the body. Long-term inflammation can damage healthy cells and weaken the immune system and this is thought to be a contributory factor for many diseases including those of the heart.

If that’s not enough to get you eating oily fish then it is worth mentioning that erectile dysfunction is one of the earliest warning signs of heart disease as the body needs a good blood supply for an erection. Low intake of omega-3 fatty acids may also impact on fertility. This is because semen is rich in compounds called prostaglandins. Studies have shown that men with a low sperm count, poor sperm motility (movement) or abnormal sperm may have low levels of them.

If you don’t eat oily fish then try investing in a good quality omega 3 supplement such as Healthspan Opti-Omega or BootsOmega 3 Fish Oil.

How to include

  • Smoked salmon works well for breakfast with eggs or lunchtime sandwiches
  • Fish pie is tasty with prawns and fresh salmon fillet 
  • Simply grilling fresh salmon is a healthy supper option with salad or vegetables

Oats

Oats

Oats and other whole grains are high in fibre with a 50g serving providing over 5g. Men in the UK do not eat enough fibre with food surveys showing an intake of only 20g per day, which is far from the recommended 30g.

Oats contain beta-glucans that have been shown to help reduce LDL cholesterol, which is a risk factor for heart disease. According to the British Heart Foundation, coronary heart disease (CHD) is the UK's biggest single killer, accounting for the deaths of nearly one in six men. Currently, 2.3 million people are living with CHD in the UK and over 1.4 million of these are men and around 110,000 men suffer a heart attack each year.

According to Cancer Research UK, the prevalence of bowel cancer is greater in men than women.  Research published in the BMJ has shown that a high intake of dietary fibre, in particular, cereal fibre and whole grains, was associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer.

Men in England are more likely to be overweight or obese than women. Sixty-eight percent of men were overweight or obese in 2015 compared with 58% of women and the World Cancer Research Fund has found there is strong evidence that being overweight is a risk factor for advanced prostate cancer. Including plenty of fibre helps to bulk out the diet and help maintain fullness, which can assist with weight maintenance.

How to include

  • Granola and yoghurt
  • Homemade oat bars
  • Smoothies

Avocado

Avocado

Avocados, like other vegetables, are a good source of potassium, which helps maintain fluid balance in the body and maintain healthy blood pressure. Food surveys have shown that the average intake of potassium amongst men is only 88% of the RDA and 11% have very low intakes. This underachievement of potassium is more than likely due to a low intake of fruits and vegetables, as only 25% of men achieve 5-a-day. Half an avocado provides 15% of the RDA for potassium and they’re easy to add to your daily diet.

How to include

  • Avocado on toast
  • Addition to salads and salsas
  • Smoothies

Canned tomatoes

Canned tomatoes

Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, which is responsible for their red colouring. Processed varieties of tomatoes have more lycopene available as do cooked tomatoes as opposed to raw.  Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that helps to protect the body from disease.

Lycopene has been linked to a reduced risk of prostate cancer although as a recent review of the research by the World Cancer Research Fund has concluded that more research studies are needed. Other research has shown that lycopene may reduce age-related enlargement of the prostate and thereby pressure on the bladder.

How to include

  • Add sun-dried tomatoes to salads
  • Use canned tomatoes to make soups, stews or pasta sauces
  • Add tomato puree to dishes for flavour and richness 

Pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds

Zinc is an essential mineral so you need to obtain it from the diet as your body cannot make it. This mineral is involved in approximately 100 enzymatic reactions in the body and plays a role in immunity, protein synthesis, wound healing, DNA synthesis and cell division. Zinc is also required for a proper sense of taste and smell as well as growth and development during pregnancy, childhood and adolescence.

This mineral is essential for men’s health.  Zinc plays a role in fertility by helping to improve the quality of sperm. Research has shown that men with lower levels of seminal zinc had lower sperm counts as well as more abnormal sperm, which may be due to the protection of zinc against oxidative damage

Zinc may also help to protect the health of the prostate. Men with low levels of zinc in their diet tend to have higher chances of developing an enlarged prostate, which is known as benign prostatic hyperplasia or BHP.

Seeds such as pumpkin contain 20% of the RDA for zinc in a 30g serving.  Most men get enough with only 6% having very low intakes

How to include

  • Sprinkle over salads, yoghurt or add to smoothies
  • Snack (you can bake in the oven with spices such as smoked paprika or chilli powder)
  • Add to homemade energy balls or snack bars

Men can eat themselves well by choosing foods that help maintain their own personal health needs and starting with the five foods above is a great way to begin. 

Detox Kitchen Bible

Rob Hobson is a registered nutritionist and Healthspan's head of nutrition. His new book ‘The Detox Kitchen Bible’ is available on Amazon or visit robhobson.co.uk for more recipe ideas.

 

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