50 Best Foods for Men
Whether you’re 25 or 45, eating a nutrient-dense diet is key to staying healthy, lean, and strong. For men, that means making sure you eat three well-balanced meals every day, including breakfast.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), men who skip a morning meal have a 27 percent higher risk of having a heart attack or dying from heart disease than men who don’t. So listen up, lads! Here, the editors of Eat This, Not That! reveal 50 foods all men should incorporate into their diets, plus delicious (and easy!) ways to add them to each meal.
The Best Foods for Your Penis
Despite its reputation for being temperamental, the penis doesn’t ask for much: support, protection, and a healthy diet. The food you eat is crucial for sexual health, from erection strength to sperm motility. Research indicates that some specific nutrients—from common vitamins to lesser-known plant extracts—have demonstrated positive effects on very specific aspects of penile performance. Here’s the most potent of the lot.
Often skipped over in favor of almonds or peanuts, Brazil nuts are packed with magic for your manhood. Selenium is a trace mineral found in Brazil nuts that plays an important role in hormone health. You only need a tiny bit for healthy sperm, but a tiny deficiency can be catastrophic for reproductive health. In one study, men who had lower testosterone and were infertile also had significantly lower selenium levels than the fertile group.
Supplementing with the mineral improved chances of successful conception by 56 percent. And a second study that included 690 infertile men with low levels of the mineral, found selenium supplementation could significantly improve sub-par sperm motility associated with testosterone deficiency. Moreover, 11 percent of the men successfully impregnated their partners during the trial! Bonus: Brazil nuts are one of the healthy fats to make you thin!
Recent University of Texas findings suggests that men who drink two to three cups of java a day—or 85 to 170 milligrams of caffeine from other beverages—are 42 percent less likely to have erectile dysfunction than those who consume less of the stimulant. And those who throw back four to seven cups were 39 percent less likely to have the condition.
The trend holds true among overweight, obese and hypertensive men, but not for those with diabetes, a condition that often causes the issue. So, how exactly does drinking coffee keep things going strong? The scientists say that the stimulant triggers a series of reactions in the body that ultimately increase blood flow to the penis. For more benefits of java, check out our exclusive report effects of coffee on the body!
“Spinach is rich in magnesium, a mineral that decreases inflammation in blood vessels, increasing blood flow,” explains Cassie Bjork, RD, LD, of Healthy Simple Life. And when it comes to a man, blood flow is everything. “Increased blood flow drives blood to the extremities, which, like Viagra, can increase arousal and make sex more pleasurable,” says psychotherapist and sex expert Tammy Nelson, PhD. Spinach is also rich in folate, which increases blood flow to the nether regions, helping to protect your guy against age-related sexual issues. Speaking of, don’t miss these best supplements for your penis.
Watermelon is one of the richest natural sources of L-citrulline, an amino acid that can help make your erection harder. Once it’s in the body, it converts to L-arginine, stimulating the production of nitric oxide, which increases blood flow to the penis, strengthening erections.
Thanks to the pine nuts that provide its base, this sauce is rich in zinc. Men with higher levels in their system have been shown to have higher sex drives than those with lower levels. Pine nuts are also a good source of magnesium, which boosts testosterone and helps keep sperm healthy and viable, according to the International Journal of Endocrinology. We love to mix pesto with zoodles, fresh basil, chopped tomatoes and grilled chicken—super delish!
A study published in the International Journal of Impotence Research discovered that pomegranate juice, which is rich in antioxidants that support blood flow, can help improve erectile dysfunction. Though this study was funded by POM Wonderful, animal studies have also shown that the elixir improves long-term erectile response, so it’s definitely worth a shot–literally. Knock a shot back or water your juice down a bit: One cup of tart POM Wonderful packs 31 grams of sugar.
Nature’s candy can be a cherry bomb for your sex life. Cherries are rich in anthocyanins, artery-clearing plant chemicals that keep them open for business. Not only does that help you stay healthy, it has a direct effect on blood flow below the belt, too. So make them a regular snack: One cup clocks in at fewer than 100 calories and boasts B vitamins, cancer-fighting flavonoids and three grams of satiating fiber. Looking for even more belly-filling healthy eats? Check out these delicious high fiber foods!
Potatoes—whether they’re the white or the sweet variety—are a great source of potassium. This nutrient boosts circulation, which keeps blood flowing where it needs to go and boosts your bedroom pleasure. It also counteracts salt-related bloating, so you’ll look better naked, too.
Want to become a dad? Pick up a few bags of baby carrots. A study published in Fertility and Sterility that analyzed the effect of various fruit and vegetables on sperm quality discovered that carrots had the best all-around results on sperm count and motility, which is the ability of your sperm to swim towards an egg. Men who ate the most carrots saw improved sperm performance by 6.5 to 8 percent. The Harvard researchers attribute the boost to carotenoids, powerful antioxidative compounds in carrots that help the body make vitamin A.
Ancient Incans consumed this energizing Peruvian plant before battles and before sex, says Chris Kilham, an ethnobotanist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Maca increases sexual appetite, stamina, endurance, and fertility. One study conducted at the Depression Clinical and Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston found that maca helped people with antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction to regain their libidos.
AWESOME FOODS FOR YOUR TICKER
Get this: More than one in four adult men, or more than 25 percent, will die of cardiovascular disease, according to the CDC. And one in every four male deaths is a result of heart disease. Those are seriously scary stats! Paired with a sensible diet and consistent routine exercise, the foods below can help ward off high blood pressure, stroke, high cholesterol, and heart disease.
Whether you’re simply trying to stay healthy or trying to improve your heart health because you’re already suffering from heart disease, omega-3s can help, say the experts at the National Institute of Health. How? The healthy fat helps reduce triglycerides (the fats that can build up in your blood and cause a heart attack) and also diminish the risk of an irregular heartbeat. To reap the benefits, pick wild over farmed and check out these healthy salmon recipes.
A diet of heart-healthy fats, like those found in flax seeds, raises good HDL cholesterol levels. Plus the seed, which can be added to everything from smoothies to cereal, contains a huge dose of heart-protecting fiber as well. Use ground seeds to maximize your omega-3 intake.
Beans & Legumes
Unlike animal sources of protein, beans and legumes are free of unhealthy fats. That might be the very reason one study found that people who consumed legumes at least four times a week had a 22 percent lower risk of heart disease compared with those who consumed them less than once a week. (If they were eating more beans, that likely meant they were eating less meat.)
Equally as encouraging results were published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. A scientific review of 26 clinical trials discovered that eating a three-quarter cup of beans daily could reduce levels of “bad” cholesterol in the blood by five percent. Add beans to your salads, soups, and guac (another heart-healthy food!) to reap the benefits. We’re also fans of Roots Black Bean Hummus. It makes a great veggie stick dipper and sandwich spread.
The genus name for walnuts comes from the Roman phrase Jupiter glans, or “Jupiter’s acorn,” which shows you just how godly the Romans believed the nut to be. And still today, the meaty walnut is highly regarded for its nutritional awesomeness. As one of the best dietary sources of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, walnuts have proven particularly good for the heart.
One study showed a two-ounce daily snack was enough to significantly improve blood flow to and from the heart. And a second Journal of the American College of Cardiology study of over 76,000 women found that eating a one-ounce portion of walnuts once or more a week was associated with up to a 19 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Sounds like a great reason to chow down, if you ask us.
Eat This! Tip
High temperatures can destroy walnuts’ volatile oils while prolonged exposure to air can cause the nuts to become rancid. Buy walnuts raw and store them in an airtight container in the fridge for a heart-healthy snack that loves you back.
Good news, guacamole lovers! Thanks to its high monounsaturated fat content (a nutrient that fights off high cholesterol), your obsession with avocados may just keep your ticker in tip-top health. Check out these avocado recipes for weight loss for culinary inspiration.
Oats are rich in a type of soluble fiber called beta-glucan and the anti-inflammatory compound avenanthramide—which help fight against obesity-related health problems, including heart disease and diabetes. One 10-year study in the American Journal of Public Health found that eating one serving of oatmeal (one cup cooked) two to four times a week resulted in a 16 percent reduction in risk of type 2 diabetes.
A bowl five to six days a week showed an even greater risk reduction of 39 percent. And a second study showed that three servings of whole grains per day, including oats, was as effective as medication in lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of heart disease by 15 percent in just 12 weeks. Whip up one of these tasty overnight oats recipes to reap the benefits!
Not only are mushrooms super low-cal, they’re a good source of with potassium, a nutrient that can help lower blood pressure and offset the negative effects of excess sodium. Another reason to add the veggie to your shopping list: Researchers at the University of Florida showed increased immunity in people who ate four ounces of cooked mushrooms every day for four weeks.
The world’s first Olympians circa 776 BC were rewarded jugs of olive oil for their athletic feats. And today’s health experts consider regular intake of the “liquid gold” equally valuable. Regular intake of virgin olive oil—a healthy fat characteristic of the Mediterranean diet—is associated with low incidences of cancer, heart disease, and other obesity-related problems as well as a lower risk of stroke.
A recent study in the journal PLOS ONE showed that obese firefighters who adhered to a Mediterranean-style diet rich in olive oil showed a 35 percent decreased risk of metabolic syndrome, as well as a 43 percent lower risk of weight gain. Another reason we love olive oil: Studies show phenols in virgin olive oil can effectively “turn off” genes associated with inflammation seen in metabolic syndrome.
A study of more than 2,000 adults revealed that those who consume just two percent of their total daily calories from yogurt have a lower incidence of hypertension than those who eat the creamy stuff less often. And some yogurts also carry a nice dose of potassium, a proven blood pressure reducer. An eight-ounce container of Stonyfield’s Organic Smooth & Creamy yogurt, for example, contains up to 14 percent of the day’s recommended intake, more than you’d get from a small banana. To get the benefits and tone your body, start your day with one of these best yogurts for weight loss.
FOODS TO FIGHT DIABETES
Though not everybody realizes it, diabetes is a risk factor for various heart diseases (including heart attack and stroke), and other conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, kidney damage, and nerve damage. If you want to avoid spending hours in a doctor’s office waiting room, make the foods below mainstays of your diet.
According to an Archives of Internal Medicine report, choosing brown rice over white may help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes—likely because the fiber helps ward off blood sugar spikes and surges of hunger.
A study published in the journal Diabetes Care discovered that those who ate more green, leafy vegetables in addition to fruit were less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Although the study only followed women, there’s a good chance men could benefit, too. Plus, nothing bad has ever come of eating more veggies! Why do we suggest watercress above all other greens? It has far more nutrients than other greens and has also been shown to fight off cancer.
Results from an eight-week trial published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggest daily supplementation of 85 grams of raw watercress (that’s about two cups) could reduce DNA damage linked to cancer by 17 percent. Exposure to heat may inactivate PEITC, so it’s best to enjoy watercress raw in salads, cold-pressed juices, and sandwiches.
Grass-Fed Whole Milk
A 2005 Archives of Internal Medicine study found that men who consumed more dairy products, particularly those low in fat, had a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. Other research suggests that dairy products may help ward off insulin resistance, which leads to type 2 diabetes. When shopping, select dairy products that are fortified with vitamin D and calcium, since research shows that low levels of vitamin D may be tied to poor health outcomes.
In fact, people who eat a lot of high-fat dairy products actually have the lowest incidence of diabetes, according to a 2015 study of 26,930 people in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Those who ate a lot of low-fat dairy products, on the other hand, had the highest incidence. The researchers speculated that while calcium, protein, vitamin D and other nutrients in yogurt are indeed good for us, we need the fat that goes along with them in order to get their protective effects.
Broccoli is packed with sulforaphane, a compound that wards off inflammation, improves blood sugar control, and protects blood vessels from the cardiovascular damage that’s often a consequence of diabetes. Add it to omelets, stir-frys and pasta dishes.
Get this: Studies suggest that those with high levels of vitamin C in their systems may also have the lowest incidence of diabetes. But before you reach for that orange to stay healthy, consider this: Guava provides 600 percent of the day’s vitamin C in just one cup! A small round orange, on the other hand, packs just 85 percent. Although the tropical fruit packs 4 grams of protein per cup, it’s best to pair guava with an additional source of protein—like nuts or a low-fat cheese stick—to ensure blood sugar levels remain even keel. For more superfoods that can improve your health and help you slim down, check out these weight loss superfoods!
FOODS THAT KEEP CANCER AT BAY
We all know that family history and the environment play a role in each person’s cancer risk, however, there are also a number of risk factors within our control. Limiting booze, avoiding cigarettes, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet can all help. Paired with a healthy lifestyle, consider the foods below an additional shield against the big C.
Men who eat more than 10 servings of tomatoes each week have an 18 percent lower risk of developing prostate cancer, according to a Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention study. It’s all thanks to the fruit’s high levels of lycopene, an antioxidant that fights off toxins that can cause DNA and cell damage. An added bonus: Tomatoes have been shown to improve sperm morphology (shape). Men with the highest tomato intake contributed to between 8 and 10 percent more “normal” sperm.
“Atlantic” or “Boston” Mackerel
You likely already knew that the omega-3s and vitamin D in mackerel, herring, and wild salmon were good for your heart, but did you know they could also help ward off the big “C”? One 12-year Harvard study of nearly 48,000 men found that those who consume these types of fatty fish more than three times a week are 40 percent less likely to develop advanced prostate cancer than those who consume the stuff just twice a month. The study authors credit the fish’s high omega-3s and vitamin D content for their protective properties.
Eat This! Tip
Reduce your intake of processed meats like cold cuts, bacon, and sausage, which have all been linked to an increased risk of cancer, and add more fatty fish to your diets throughout the week to ensure a steady supply of the protective nutrients. If you’re at a Japanese restaurant order the Saba Roll (it’s made with mackerel), and if you find yourself at an American restaurant look for herring or wild salmon dishes on the menu.
Berries—such as cranberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries—contain powerful tumor-blocking compounds (like phenolic acids, glycosides, and anthocyanins) and antioxidants (like ellagic acid) that can slow the reproduction of cancer cells and stop free radicals from damaging cells. Consuming the fruit is especially effective at warding off colon, prostate, and esophageal cancers, studies have found. Add fresh or frozen berries to your fruit salad, pancakes or smoothies to reap the benefits.
According to a 2015 Food Chemistry study, the antioxidants found in white tea not only help protect healthy cells against potentially carcinogenic oxidative damage, but they can inhibit the reproduction of existing colon cancer cells.
Love oranges, lemons, and grapefruits? Great! Keep eating them—just don’t throw out the peels. Why? They contain a powerful compound that boosts the body’s production of detoxifying enzymes. In fact, consuming zest regularly can help reduce the risk of squamous-cell skin cancer by 30 percent and shrink existing tumors, say University of Arizona researchers.
Rich in disease-fighting chemicals and nutrients that block larynx, mouth, lung, breast, skin, and stomach cancer cells, spinach, kale, mustard greens, Swiss chard and romaine lettuce are all great greens to add your diet. Although each of these veggies deserves a place on your plate, spinach should definitely be your go-to if you have to pick just one—especially if you’re a fan of red meat.
Why? Popeye’s go-to green contains compounds that can actually block the carcinogenic organic compound PhIP, which is abundant in cooked red meat, say Oregon State University researchers. To reap the benefits, sauté spinach, mustard greens or Swiss chard with olive oil, onions, and garlic for a quick and simple side dish.
Sweet Red Peppers
Lycopene, a phytonutrient that gives fruits and veggies their red hue, has been shown to help lower the risk of developing prostate cancer. To reap the benefits add veggies like tomatoes and sweet reap peppers to your diet a few times a week. Lycopene from food cooked with a little fat is better absorbed into the body than raw foods eaten without fat. Tomatoes cooked in olive oil, for example, release more lycopene into the body than do raw tomatoes
Looking for another excuse to sneak some more cauliflower rice into your diet? The white veggie is filled with a compound called indole-3-carbinol, which has been shown to repair your DNA and thwart cancer. For delicious ways to add more or the stuff to your diet, check out these cauliflower recipes.
This popular root vegetable (commonly found in smoothies and Asian-style dishes) is packed with gingerol, a powerful cancer suppressing compound. Scientific minds say it’s particularly effective at warding off colon cancer.
For men with colon cancer, low-glycemic carbs may just be a life-saver—literally. In one study seven-year study published in The Journal of the National Cancer Institute, patients who consumed the most carbs with high glycemic loads had an 80 percent greater chance of dying or having a recurrence of disease than those who consumed the least amounts.
Dr. Jeffrey A. Meyerhardt, the lead author of the study, suggests avoiding things like juices and sodas, which have a higher glycemic load than things like detox water and fresh vegetable juice. Swap fruits like a date or raisins, which have very high glycemic loads, for things like apple, orange or cantaloupe. “Substitute brown rice for white, whole grains instead of white bread, and instead of having a starchy potato as your side dish, substitute beans, and vegetables,” he adds.
THE BEST GRUB FOR YOUR BETTER BODY GOALS
Trying to lose weight? Want to pack on more lean muscle mass? We’ve got you covered. Not only will the foods below help you trim down, they’ll help ward off obesity-related diseases like metabolic syndrome and diabetes, too!
Just one egg contains about 15 percent of the day’s riboflavin. It’s just one of eight B vitamins, which all help the body to convert food into fuel, which in turn is used to produce energy. Another reason we love this protein? They’ve been shown to aid fat loss.
In one eight-week study, people ate a breakfast of either eggs or bagels, which contained the same amount of calories. The egg group lost 65 percent more body weight, 16 percent more body fat, experienced a 61 percent greater reduction in BMI and saw a 34 percent greater reduction in waist circumference! For even more health benefits of eggs, check out these benefits of eggs.
If you’re go-to source of protein is beef, be sure to pick up the grass-fed variety. Why? Grass-fed beef has the holy trifecta of muscle building: It’s the #1 food source of creatine, which increases muscle mass by speeding protein to muscles; it’s rich in CLA, an anti-inflammatory fatty acid; and it provides more than one-half the recommended daily intake of protein in a four-ounce serving. An added bonus: It’s naturally leaner and has fewer calories than conventional meat: A lean seven-ounce conventional strip steak has 386 calories and 16 grams of fat. But a seven-ounce grass-fed strip steak has only 234 calories and five grams of fat.
A particularly grueling workout can feel like a round in the boxing ring against a heavyweight champ, but quinoa is your ropes. Rely on this complete protein to help you rebound faster and come back stronger thanks to its slow-burning complex carbs, notable protein content and rich levels of lysine, an amino acid that aids tissue and muscle repair. What’s more, quinoa is a rich source of minerals including magnesium, which helps relax the blood vessels and improve blood circulation to your muscles. All that adds up to a noticeably more defined, stronger you. To keep your taste buds interested, use the grain as a salad topper, mix it with oatmeal, add it to an omelet.
Drinking a combination of carbohydrates and protein after a hard workout can help restore your energy and aid in building lean, metabolism-boosting muscle, but it turns out that you don’t need a fancy recovery beverage to reap these benefits. After participating in a vigorous cycling session, cyclists who drank chocolate milk were able to ride 51 percent longer in a subsequent workout than those who drank a standard recovery beverage, an article in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism found. Plus, chocolate milk is cheaper (and tastier) than anything you’ll find in a sports nutrition store.
Think of each almond as a natural weight-loss pill. A study of overweight and obese adults found that combined with a calorie-restricted diet, consuming a little more than a quarter cup of the nuts can decrease weight more effectively than a snack comprised of complex carbohydrates and safflower oil—after just two weeks! (And after 24 weeks, those who ate the nuts experienced a 62 percent greater reduction in weight and BMI!)
For optimal results, eat your daily serving before you hit the gym. A study printed in The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that almonds, rich in the amino acid L-arginine, can actually help you burn more fat and carbs during workouts. For even more ways to scorch those extra calories, check out these ways to boost your metabolism!
Like a marathoner stretching before the big run, eating half a grapefruit before a meal can enhance your body’s fat-burning performance. A study published in the journal Metabolism found that this “warm-up” tactic can help whittle your middle—by up to an inch—in just six weeks!
The scientists attribute the powerful effects to the grapefruits’ fat-zapping phytochemicals. The fruit can interact negatively with certain medications, so as long as you get the green-light from your M.D, plan to have half of a grapefruit before your morning meal and add a few segments your starter salads to reap the benefits. For even more ways to eat yourself lean, check out these healthy breakfast ideas.
A longtime enemy of doctors and dieters, pork has been coming around as a healthier alternative of late—as long as you choose the right cut. Your best bet is pork tenderloin: A University of Wisconsin Study found that a three-ounce serving of pork tenderloin has slightly less fat than a skinless chicken breast.
It has 24 grams of protein per serving and 83 milligrams of waist-whittling choline (in the latter case, about the same as a medium egg). In a study published in the journal Nutrients, scientists asked 144 overweight people to eat a diet rich in fresh lean pork. After three months, the group saw a significant reduction in waist size, BMI and belly fat, with no reduction in muscle mass! They speculate that the amino acid profile of pork protein may contribute to greater fat burning.
Millet may be the main ingredient in birdseed, but this lesser-known health food shouldn’t be limited to Mr. Bluebird on your shoulder. Although technically a seed, millet should be treated as a grain. It helps enhance blood flow to your muscles thanks to its rich magnesium content, allowing them to develop and take on a more jacked look.
Even better, this seed has the power to strengthen your body and give your muscles long-lasting fuel because it’s a great source of plant-based protein and complex carbohydrates. Interested in trying it out? Great! We suggest using it just as you would quinoa—in salads, sides and breakfast bowls.
They may be tiny, but chia seeds have massive health benefits and plenty of muscle-chiseling power. Their greatest strength as a better-body ally comes from the one-two punch they deliver of omega-3 fatty acids and fiber. Healthy omega-3s work to reduce inflammation and help strengthen and grow your muscles through the process of protein synthesis, while fiber supplies you with steady, long-burning energy. In fact, just two tablespoons of the seeds contain 11 grams of gut-filling fiber. Add the stuff to oats, smoothies, and salad dressings to reap the benefits.
Cottage cheese’s muscle-building powers come from two different components: casein (the slow-digesting dairy protein) and live cultures. When you eat casein, your blood amino acid levels rise slowly and stay elevated for longer than if you would have eaten whey. The live cultures will help you break down and absorb all the nutrients you need to get bigger and stronger. Eat the stuff plain, toss it with some chopped nuts and berries, or mix it with some eggs and chopped veggies for an extra protein-packed frittata. For even more foods that will fuel your muscles, check out these muscle-building foods.
FOODS THAT BOOST YOUR IMMUNITY
Even if you wash your hands regularly and Purell like crazy, you should protect your body from the inside out. The superfoods below have been shown to boost the body’s defense against colds and flu and more serious conditions, too.
If you’re a lactose-intolerant dairy lover, kefir may be your new BFF. The tangy, sour-tasting beverage is made from fermented cow’s milk is 99% lactose-free. It’s also a prime source of probiotics, a type of healthy bacteria that benefits heart health, digestion, and immunity.
Not only can chili peppers boost metabolism and add flavor to your favorite foods sans calories, they’re also rich in an infection-fighting called beta-carotene. Bonus: One Canadian Urological Association Journal report found that hot peppers have anti-prostate-cancer properties. Add one tablespoon of chili flakes or half a chili pepper or to your diet every day to reap the benefits.
For a humble root plant, orange tubers sure are mighty! Not only can eating them regularly counteract the effects of secondhand smoke, they’ve also been shown to prevent diabetes. There’s more: Sweet potatoes contain glutathione, an antioxidant that can bolster immune system health and protect against Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, heart attack, stroke, and liver disease.
“Kale is packed with vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, a substance found in plants that is believed to be beneficial to the prevention of various diseases,” explains Lisa Hayim, RD. “The phytonutrients promote optimal cell function and communication, ensuring that enzymatic reactions occur when they are supposed to within the body, and lays down the foundation for a strong immune system to fight illness.”
If you feel like your immune system has been dwindling lately, pick up a pint of blueberries. Oregon State University recently took a look at over 400 compounds for their ability to boost the immune system, and the study revealed the compound, pterostilbene, in blueberries is a standout. Goodbye Pepto Bismol, hello Pterostilbene! Bored with plain blueberries? Add them to your oatmeal of weight loss smoothies.