While both men and women need to eat well, men have slightly different nutritional needs when compared to their female counterparts. The differences in dietary needs between men and women vary based on genetics, energy needs, hormonal differences, life expectancy, etc.
From my research, I've uncovered several genetic differences between men and women and their impact on nutrition and disease. For instance, the difference in chromosomes dictates the risk of getting certain diseases. Research shows that sex dictates predisposition to certain conditions introducing slightly different dietary needs to avoid such diseases.
According to studies, male hormones like testosterone are also to blame for diseases like heart disease among men. On the other hand, estrogen protects women from heart disease hence the low prevalence rates. Energy needs, which tend to be higher in men than women, also call for different nutritional needs.
Since health problems are more prevalent with age, there's an obvious need for high nutrient foods in men with age. In case you're wondering what you should be eating as you age to avoid common gender-related health issues, I've compiled a list of 5 most nutrient-rich foods men should be eating.
Avocado comes highly recommended for men due to the fruit's cholesterol benefits. Avocado lowers the levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol. Dense LDL is known to cause plaque buildup in the heart (artery walls). Avocadoes are packed with healthy fats (monounsaturated fats) that reduce bad cholesterol levels linked to heart attacks and coronary atherosclerosis.
Since men are prone to heart problems as they age, they should be eating avocados more often. Cholesterol benefits aside, avocadoes also offer other health benefits that men older men can benefit from i.e., weight loss and reduced inflammation levels. Studies show that avocados may help to manage weight and lower inflammation levels which are all health benefits that older men need.
Considering men have problems with weight gain as they age and the body becomes more susceptible to inflammation with age, men should eat more avocado as they age. However, consumption should be within recommended guidelines (at most half a fruit daily) since avocadoes can cause weight gain if eaten excessively.
Men should also consider including beans more in their diet. Like avocado, beans have heart health benefits. Research has shown a link between beans and lower bad cholesterol levels. Eating 3/4-cups of beans on a daily basis can reduce LDL cholesterol by 5%.
This, in turn, reduces stroke and heart disease risks. Older men who are more susceptible to health problems like heart disease should eat beans regularly. Beans are also good for the heart because they don't contain unhealthy fats.
In case you're wondering what types of beans you should eat, kidney beans come highly recommended. It's also worth noting that the benefits of beans are best enjoyed if they are eaten regularly. Eating beans four or more times weekly reduces heart disease risk by 22% when compared to eating once a week only.
Tomatoes are also great for men's health because they are rich in lycopene - a red pigment containing powerful antioxidant properties. Lycopene also has anti-cancer properties. The pigment is a carotenoid (plant chemical) common in carrots, pink guava, papaya, watermelon, among other colored fruits and vegetables.
Men should eat tomatoes more since lycopene is known to fight several diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoporosis, neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes, and some cancers common among men as they age. Lycopene has been found to be particularly helpful in fighting prostate cancer, a cancer common among older men.
To get the best out of lycopene in tomatoes, it's advisable to consume tomatoes in forms that make it very easy for the body to absorb the pigment i.e., as tomato paste or juice. It's worth noting that lycopene bioavailability is affected by factors like food processing and improper storage. Bioavailability can also be dictated based on how the tomatoes are consumed. Consuming tomatoes with lipid-soluble compounds i.e., salad dressing, increases carotenoid absorption.
Men should also eat lots of broccoli. The vegetable has been found to fight bladder cancer, a cancer that is more prevalent mostly among older men over 50 years. Epidemiologic evidence suggests eating diets rich in broccoli, among other cruciferous vegetables, lowers bladder cancer risks.
According to American Cancer Society 2021 statistics, men account for approximately 77% of all bladder cancer cases. Men are also more susceptible to die from bladder cancer than women. Out of 17,200 deaths, 12,260 were men (71%).
What's more, bladder cancer affects older people, given the probability of a bladder cancer sufferer being over 55 years is 90%. The odds of a man getting bladder cancer is approximately 3.7%, while that of women is roughly 1.1%. Considering there is evidence that broccoli fights bladder cancer, it's easy to see why broccoli should become a staple in men's diet as they age.
Lastly, men should also eat eggs. Given men have more muscle mass than women, they need more protein-rich diets. A protein-rich diet is particularly important for men as they age since they suffer from age-related muscle loss (sarcopenia). After age 30, men tend to lose 3-5% every 10 years. Most men lose approximately 30% of their muscle over their lifetime, and muscle loss accelerates past 50 years.
Research studies have shown that eggs can slow down muscle loss. Since most older individuals can't meet their protein requirements regularly and their requirements are generally higher, eating foods rich in protein (like eggs) regularly optimizes muscle synthesis among older individuals. While staying physically active can maintain muscle mass among men above 40 years, a balanced diet rich in protein is a proven way to reduce sarcopenia risks.
Eggs are rich, inexpensive sources of protein. They also have other crucial nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, critical for maintaining good health. Before you eat anything else. make sure eggs and the other foods I've discussed above are part of your main diet.
You can also get really creative and combine some or all of these foods into one super meal to get all your nutrients in one shot.
Words by James Mash
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15 March 2021
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