Although it may not be a topic of conversation around the dinner table or with your buddies at work, taking care of your prostate health shouldn’t be something you defer until it becomes a problem. Prostate problems are extremely common after the age of fifty. For example, according to the National Institutes of Health, 50% of men over the age of 50 have benign prostatic hyperplasia, or an enlarged prostate, a condition that can lead to thickening of the bladder wall, urinary incontinence, and urinary retention.
Even if your 50s are decades away, younger men can take strides to prevent and delay prostate enlargement by consuming foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants known to support prostate health. These types of foods reduce inflammation, improve circulation, minimize oxidative damage, and support healthy hormone production, helping protect against benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostate cancer. Keep reading to find out what the best foods for prostate health are and to start taking control of your future health.
Fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, sardines, herring, trout, and mackerel, contain omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce inflammation and can slow the progression of prostate enlargement. There is even some evidence pointing to the ability of omega-3 fatty acids to reduce tumor size in cases of prostate cancer.
Tomatoes are one of the best sources of lycopene, a carotenoid that protects your cells against oxidative damage from free radicals. Lycopene has been found to slow the progression of benign prostatic hyperplasia and lower levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a marker of prostatic inflammation and prostate cancer risk. The absorption of lycopene is enhanced by healthy fats, so pair your tomato consumption with avocado, nuts, fatty fish, or olive oil to maximize the benefits.
Other good dietary sources of lycopene include watermelon, pink grapefruit, papaya, and guava. Tomatoes also contain selenium, another mineral associated with improved prostate health and function. One cup of tomatoes has 55mg (61% RDI) of vitamin C.
Soy gets a bad rap sometimes because of the phytoestrogens it contains, but these very compounds also make it particularly protective against prostate problems, as they confer antioxidant properties and may help regulate hormone levels and healthy cell turnover. For example, isoflavones, a type of phytoestrogen, have been shown to potentially lower the risk of prostate cancer by 20%. These compounds are also found in some legumes, such as beans and lentils. Consider swapping an animal protein for tofu, tempeh, or legumes to support prostate health.
Broccoli is often touted as the king when it comes to the healthiest vegetables. Along with other cruciferous vegetables like kale, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower, broccoli is packed with vitamin C. One cup of broccoli provides 81 mg of vitamin C, and because broccoli is a nutrient-dense, low-calorie food, every 200-calorie portion provides an incredible 525 mg or 583% of the RDI of vitamin C. Brussels sprouts are slightly higher in calories but also packed with vitamin C.
Each cup of Brussels sprouts contains 107% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C. Cruciferous vegetables are also good sources of fiber, folate, and E and K. Research shows that compounds in these vegetables, known as glucosinolates, can reduce the risk of prostate cancer, along with the brain, blood, bone, colon, gastric, liver, lung, oral, and pancreatic cancers, among others. Cruciferous vegetables can be enjoyed steamed, roasted, grilled, chopped in salads, or seasoned lightly and then cooked in an air fryer.
Green tea is often called a superfood, with evidence demonstrating numerous health benefits ranging from improving memory and increasing metabolism to reducing the risk of cancer. In fact, research has found an inverse relationship between green tea consumption and prostate cancer risk, such that cancer risk drops in a linear fashion for every cup of green tea consumed per day.
Many of the benefits of green tea are due to the antioxidants and polyphenols it contains, which reduce inflammation in the body and support the immune system and cellular health. For example, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a particularly potent anti-inflammatory compound in green tea, helps protect the fatty acids in your cells from oxidative damage and inhibits the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Consider swapping your morning cup of coffee for green tea or adding a cup in the mid-morning for a boost of energy.
Nuts and seeds can be beneficial for prostate health due to their healthy, anti-inflammatory fats, minerals, and vitamins. Pumpkin seeds, squash seeds, sesame seeds, Brazil nuts, walnuts, and almonds are considered to be the most potent prostate protectors, mainly due to their high zinc content.
Zinc has been found to reduce the risk of prostate enlargement as well as prostate cancer. Seeds and nuts, such as walnuts, also have vitamin E, an antioxidant that can reduce free radical damage, reduce inflammation, and improve immune function. Try adding seeds and nuts to yogurt, breakfast cereal, salads, or homemade protein balls.
Bell peppers are one of the richest sources of vitamin C, an antioxidant that can help scavenge free radicals and prevent oxidative damage. It also supports the immune system and reduces systemic inflammation. Red, yellow, and orange peppers are particularly high in vitamin C; plus, they contain vitamin A, beta-carotene, and lycopene, which help regulate inflammation by suppressing pro-inflammatory T-helper cells and suppressing the expression of genes for different inflammatory cytokines.
Studies have found that consumption of Asian mushrooms, such as shiitakes, is inversely associated with prostate cancer risk. Try sautéing mushrooms in stir-fries, adding them raw to salads, or roasting or grilling them to bring out their earthy flavor.
If you’re an avocado toast lover or love avocado on your salads or burgers, you’re in luck. This nutritious fruit is packed with anti-inflammatory healthy fats, antioxidant vitamin E, fiber, and beta-sitosterol, a plant sterol said to minimize the urinary symptoms associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia. Avocados are filling and versatile, useful in everything from savory dishes to healthy desserts.
Pomegranates have jewel-like seeds packed with antioxidant-rich juice. There is even some evidence to suggest pomegranate juice may inhibit tumor growth in prostate cancer.
Now that you know what you should eat, what should you avoid? Regularly consuming unhealthy foods can make any symptoms you may be experiencing worse and lead to other issues. So, in addition to adding the aforementioned foods to your grocery list, try to keep the following foods to a minimum.
- Sugary foods
- Red meat and processed meats
- High-fat dairy products
- Foods high in sodium
- Fried foods
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