September is prostate cancer awareness month in Canada. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among Canadian men, with 1 in 9 facing a positive diagnosis in their lifetime.

The prostate is a walnut-sized gland underneath the urinary bladder and is part of a man’s urinary and reproductive system. Its job is to help create semen; it’s also critical for normal erectile function.

Foods that help prevent prostate cancer

Researchers don’t fully understand the connection between prostate cancer and diet, but studies have found that adding healthy foods that have lycopene, antioxidants, and fibre to your diet can help avoid it.


Man and son eating watermelon

High in vitamins A and C and free of fat and salt, watermelons are an excellent source of lycopene, an antioxidant research suggests may help lower prostate cancer risk.

Don’t like watermelon? Many red-hued fruits get their colour from lycopene, including fruits like apricots, pink and red grapefruit, guava, and papaya.


Another fruit high in lycopene is tomatoes. Yes, tomatoes are a fruit! Processed tomato products–like sauces and paste–are better than raw tomatoes for cancer prevention. The lycopene 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.

Leafy greens

Cooked greens such as spinach, mustard greens and collard greens decrease the risk of prostate cancer. Popeye was onto something!


Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels 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

Man in orange shirt and curly hair with coffee

Your morning cup of coffee or tea can help maintain a healthy prostate. 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 Protein

Soy products are another excellent addition to a healthy prostate diet. They are also a great way to reduce red meat consumption as a protein alternative to meat.

Foods to limit for prostate health

Saturated fats have been associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer when consumed in excess. These are found in animal food sources such as red meat, 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 more often than not.

Screening and risk factors for prostate cancer

Prostate screening usually begins at age 50. However, a family history of prostate cancer, Black men, or obese men may require earlier screening in their mid-forties due to increased risk.

Only 5% to 10% of prostate cancers are genetic or hereditary. All other occurrences of prostate cancer are due to environmental factors and unhealthy lifestyle choices, like poor diet, smoking, and not exercising.

To help understand your prostate cancer risk, check out the Men’s Health Check tool. This free, evidence-based tool will identify your risk levels for the most common men’s health conditions, like prostate cancer, heart attack and erectile dysfunction.

Making smart choices now, like eating well and staying active, can lower your risk of prostate issues in the future.

What’s your favourite way to eat veggies? Do you prefer them raw or cooked? Share in the comments below!

In 10 minutes, learn your risk level for the 8 most common health conditions affecting Canadian men. Men’s Health Check is free, anonymous and backed by medical experts.