BODY AND SOUL
By Nutrition Expert
Wednesday, November 04, 2009.
Brothers, isn't it annoying that all the healthy news and diet tips seem to be geared for the ladies? Well, we have decided it’s about time we paid you a bit of special attention for a change. We know that you all like to pamper yourselves occasionally (go on, admit it!) and you need to look after yourself and your health too!
So I present to you my Top 10 Foods for Men (in no particular order)…and don’t worry, it’s not all boring old cabbage and lettuce – you might find a few surprises in there!
This smelly little number is literally packed full of goodness! It has anti-cancer compounds, antibacterial and decongestant properties to keep coughs and colds at bay, and phytochemicals, which help lower cholesterol and prevent blood clots. You can add it during cooking to practically any savoury dish, or, if you’re not mad about the distinctive taste (or smell), pop a whole clove of garlic in the oven while you’re cooking a pizza. Roast garlic is soft and can be spread like butter but has a much more mellow flavour.
Tomatoes are rich in the antioxidant lycopene. Research has shown that lycopene may be important in preventing heart disease and many cancers, especially prostate cancer. Unusually for a nutrient, lycopene is even more potent in cooked tomatoes than raw ones, so adding a dollop of ketchup to those fries isn’t the worst thing in the world. However, because of the salt and sugar content of commercial ketchup, look at including other rich sources of lycopene into your diet – add tomato puree to a stew or casserole, tomato soup, tomato-based pasta sauce or Bolognese and even top pizza with extra tomato slices.
It’s not only pregnant women who need this to boost their folic acid intake. Men need folate or folic acid too as this can lower the levels of an amino acid in the blood called homocysteine. High homocysteine levels are associated with increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Broccoli is also loaded with vitamin C, beta-carotene, potassium and a phytochemical called sulphoraphane, which helps reduce the risk of cancer. If you just can’t face a big pile of broccoli at the side of your plate, mix it into pasta sauce (see above), cover it with chilli sauce and have with noodles or even put it on top of pizza (again, see note on tomatoes!) It’s important to eat a wide variety of vegetables as they are all packed with antioxidants and other disease-fighting compounds.
Fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and herring contain essential fatty acids, like Omega-3 and Omega-6, which have been proven to be beneficial in preventing heart disease, some cancers, arthritis and depression. Mackerel is an especially rich source of selenium. Research at Cornell University found those taking selenium supplements (200 mcg daily) had 63% fewer prostate cancers and 39% lower cancer rate overall. So try to have oily fish at least twice each week, whether it’s tuna sandwiches, a nice grilled salmon steak with a mound of mashed potatoes (think fish and chips, but healthier) or a rice dish such as kedgeree.
Red meat is a great source of zinc, vitamin B12 and iron. Zinc is involved in hundreds of body functions, from producing DNA to the sense of taste. Vitamin B12 also has many functions including energy release and iron is essential for carrying oxygen from the lungs all around the body. If you’re a bit of an athlete or enjoy working out, you need to get these nutrients. But choose leaner cuts of meat and avoid cheaper products such as burgers and pies as these are very high in saturated fat. Remember you should try not to eat red meat more than 3 times a week.
What more could a body ask for? Milk is one of our main sources of calcium and low intakes of calcium have been linked with heart disease, colon cancer and osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is not just a disease that affects older women - 1 in 12 men now suffer from osteoporosis so it’s vital to have an adequate calcium intake. Choose semi-skimmed or skimmed milk for a low fat source of calcium, with protein too.
Nuts and Seeds
All you tough nuts out there, take note! These little goodies are crammed full of vitamins and minerals. Brazil nuts are especially high in magnesium and selenium – an antioxidant that helps prevent heart disease, cancer and protects prostate health. Sprinkle seeds such as linseed or flaxseed over your cereal to pack in more goodness, snack on a small handful of nuts instead of crisps or top your toast with peanut butter.
This crazy fruit will boost your energy as well as boosting your potassium levels. You need potassium to regulate your nerves, heartbeat and blood pressure. Bananas can also be useful hangover cures after a night on the town!
Good old spuds! Cheap and cheerful, boiled or baked, they never fail to fill you up. They’re also packed full of vitamin C, along with lots of other vitamins and minerals. Eat the skin for fibre and go easy on the chipped variety!
That’s right! Beer contains phytochemicals that have been shown to help prevent heart disease. It may also aid digestion by encouraging acid production in the stomach and moderate (yes, moderate) alcohol intake as part of a healthy diet is associated with lower incidence of heart disease. BUT WAIT! This doesn’t give you licence to become a lager lout! Remember that these effects are only seen in moderate drinkers – that’s no more than 2 units per day (1 pint of beer). High intakes will undo all the goodness so try not to get carried away!