If guys’ internal organs were fictional characters, the prostate would be Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Your prostate has that kind of split personality. On the one hand, it helps control your pee flow and bulks up your semen so your sperm can make it to the egg (if that’s what you’re going for). All good so far! But once you hit 40, the prostate’s Mr. Hyde side starts to become more of an issue.
After all, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among Canadian men, with a whopping 1 in 7 guys facing a positive diagnosis in their lifetime. With September being prostate cancer awareness month, now’s the time to get proactive about prostate health.
Good foods for prostate health
While prostate cancer can be caused by factors out of your control—your family history, for instance, or your body’s production of certain hormones—lots of tasty foods you likely already eat can help prevent it. For example:
High in vitamins A and C and free of fat and salt, watermelon is a mouthwatering healthy food choice regardless of your age. It also happens to be an excellent source of lycopene, an antioxidant that research suggests may help lower prostate cancer risk. There are as many as 9 milligrams of lycopene in a small slice of watermelon. Guys should aim to consume about that much a day.
If you don’t see yourself eating watermelon every single day, you have other options. Many (but not all) red-hued foods get their colour from lycopene, so a lot of fruits contain this red pigment. Fruits like apricots, pink and red grapefruit, guava, and papaya.
Another fruit high in lycopene is tomatoes. (Yes, tomatoes are a fruit!) Cooked, juiced, sauces, and sun-dried tomatoes are great sources of this antioxidant-rich pigment that is for good prostate health. The lycopene in tomatoes is actually easier for your body to absorb when it is cooked or processed, so go ahead and put a little ketchup on your burger.
Research has found that cooked greens such as spinach, mustard greens and collard greens decrease the risk of prostate cancer. Popeye was on to something!
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, bok choy, cabbage and kale can reduce inflammation and help keep your prostate healthy. For some people eating too much broccoli and other cruciferous veggies can lead to bad gas, so you might want to skip this prostate-defender on date night.
Coffee and Green Tea
Your morning cup of coffee or tea can help maintain a healthy prostate. It’s not the caffeine that helps, but some of the other active ingredients in coffee. Even if you’re a decaf kind of guy; coffee is still beneficial. If coffee isn’t your flavour, try a cup of green tea instead.
Soy products are popular in many Asian cultures and are another great addition to a healthy prostate diet. Soy products are also a great way to reduce red meat consumption by being a protein alternative to meat.
Beer and wine in moderation
Alcohol is causally related to a number of cancers. However, prostate cancer is not one of them. There is some evidence that hard liquor may increase the risk of prostate cancer, but in general, light to moderate alcohol intake may be protective of your prostate as well as your heart.
According to Canada’s Drinking Guidelines for men, you should keep it to 15 drinks a week, with no more than 3 drinks a day. This means planning at least 2 alcohol-free days per week to avoid developing an unhealthy habit.
Foods to avoid for prostate health
Saturated fats have been associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer when consumed in excess. These are found in animal sources of food such as meat, poultry, butter and cheese, as well as in tropical oils like coconut and palm. The same goes for processed foods that contain added salt, sugar, and fat.
This doesn’t mean you need to give up hamburgers, potato chips and doughnuts. It just means eating a more balanced diet and skipping the red meat, cheese and deep-fried dough from time to time. That’s where these delicious food swaps come in!
Use the Men’s Health Check Tool
Men’s Health Check is a health check tool that screens you for prostate cancer and other health issues. This is super-useful because it helps you figure out when to see a doctor. It’s free, anonymous, and only takes a few minutes. So why not give it a try? You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain! Get Started!
Speaking of seeing a doctor, guys older than 40 should get screened for prostate through a blood test and digital rectal examination. After all, if detected and treated in its earliest stages, the chances of surviving prostate cancer are significantly increased.
Hasta la vista, Mr. Hyde!
Do you know a healthy food swap that doesn’t sacrifice taste? Share your tips in the comments below!