On Sunday we will be celebrating Father’s Day. To honor special fathers everywhere, here are my 11 Foods to help keep the male heart and prostate as healthy as possible, protect against environmental stressors, slow down the aging process, ward off prostate woes, and aid in restful sleep.
Since food is the best medicine, incorporating these staples into the daily routine will be good preventative medicine for the whole family—but especially for Dad.
My special picks for pops:
1. Seeds like chia and flax offer a wealth of health benefits for men. Considered the world’s most fiber-rich food, chia seeds have twice the protein of other seeds and grains, eight times more heart-healthy anti-inflammatory omega-3s than salmon, and three times the antioxidants in blueberries. Two to three tablespoons per day will aid elimination to jumpstart the day. Add to Dad’s daily green smoothie or sprinkle on any of his favorite dishes.
Flax seeds, in addition to containing fiber and Omega-3s, are the highest dietary source of lignans, an antioxidant rich estrogen-modulator which has been found to slowdown the growth of prostate tumors in a landmark Duke Study presented at the National Cancer Institute.
Just a mere two tablespoons of ground flax seeds daily in muffins, steel-cut oats or sprinkled on salads is all it takes to help keep prostate cancer at bay. At my house I ensure flax and chia consumption with these delicious crunchy snackers: Chia Crackers and Flax Crackers
2. Artichokes are Number One on the USDA’s list of best veggies thanks to their high antioxidant capacity, protecting the liver from toxins and boosting the body’s premier antioxidant, glutathione, by 50%.
Italian research finds artichokes are a promising alternative to digestive distress—a problem that pharmaceutical drugs often fail to relieve. No matter how you cook them—boil, steam, grill, roast, or braise—artichokes appear to calm inflammation and aid in cellular repair, helping to protect against chronic disease as well as exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) from cell phones, cordless phones, smart meters, iPads and WiFi.
Toss artichoke hearts in salads or add them to soups (I love chicken soup with artichokes), but by all means, the men in your life should enjoy at least one medium-sized whole artichoke or 1/2 cup of artichoke hearts at least twice per week.
3. Coconuts provide antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. And, like so many other good fats, coconut is now being welcomed back with open arms thanks to the mainstream media which is finally catching up to what I’ve been telling you all these years (see Time Magazine’s new cover story>>).
Coconut, due to its high saturated content (92% of its total fat), is also one of the most stable cooking oils on the planet. It contains a high percentage of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs)—which are easily digested, even for men who have fat malabsorption problems. They stimulate the body’s metabolism, resulting in effortless and satisfying weight loss. Aim for two to three tablespoons per day.
4. Berries are also antioxidant superstars. One cup of blueberries, for instance, contains more than a third of the vitamin C you need each day, plus kaempferaol, a phytochemical that can cut the risk for certain types of cancer.
An all-time favorite of mine, cranberries are even higher in antioxidants, and studies suggest they not only prevent tumor growth but also raise good HDL cholesterol while lowering bad LDL levels. These bright red berries even kill H. pylori bacteria linked to ulcers and stomach cancer while warding off the formation of dental plaque. A cranberry spritzer makes a wonderful cocktail—mix 1 ounce unsweetened cranberry juice to 7 ounces filtered water.
Dad should indulge in least ½ to one cup of some type of berries daily. They make wonderful desserts when frozen and topped with a dollop of real whipped cream blended with pure vanilla extract and Ceylon cinnamon!
5. Crucifers (including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and kale) are high in antioxidants plus sulfur, which enhances the body’s production of glutathione, the body’s detoxifier of heavy metals and chemicals.
Just chewing a floret of broccoli or cauliflower helps activate the phytochemical indole-3-carbinol, which studies show fights cancers, particularly of hormone-dependent tumors.
I recommend cooking (at least briefly) most cruciferous veggies, though, since when eaten raw, these veggies may interfere with thyroid function—a growing problem among men, as it already is with 2 out of 3 women. Three to four one-cup servings a week would be a great way to insure your man’s health.
6. Tart Cherries—and their juice are rich in melatonin, the antioxidant hormone that regulates circadian rhythms and helps promote sound sleep—without which men are more likely to pack on pounds and develop diabetes and heart disease.
Anti-inflammatory, low-glycemic, and radioprotective, tart cherries and their juice contain more melatonin than is found in human blood, finds Russel Reiter, PhD, at the University of Texas Health Science Center.
Eat them fresh or dried, and mix a bit of tart cherry juice with water, particularly when working out—to lessen joint inflammation from exercise.
I would have Dad aim for two to three servings a week—either 10 fresh cherries, 2 tablespoons dried cherries or 8 ounces of cherry juice. (I would dilute the juice with 50% water and serve as a refreshing night cap an hour before bed.
7. Leafy greens (including arugula and other salad greens, collards, spinach, kale and Swiss chard) are high in calcium, magnesium, and vitamin K, so important to bone health, as well as the phytochemicals, lutein and zeaxanthin, that protect both cardiovascular and eye health.
Eating greens—rich in folate—can even help to decrease elevated levels of homocysteine—a potentially toxic amino acid which is a potent risk factor for heart disease. A daily dose of greens—either in salad—or blended in a smoothie is my recommendation, ½ cup on a daily basis is all it takes.
8. Protein powders are easily assimilated in readily absorbable nutrition. Protein helps boost metabolism by stimulating thyroid function and provides a steady energy source because it stabilizes blood sugar levels and supports lean muscle mass.
I recommend protein powders that are as pure as possible from non-genetically altered A2 milk like the Fat Flush Whey Protein. Nondenatured, unheated and hormone-free Fat Flush Whey comes from select New Zealand cows producing A2 milk, unlike most other A1 (genetically altered) whey protein powders found on the market.
Fat Flush Whey Protein powder is made in such a way as to preserve fragile amino acids as well as essential fatty acids, while helping to produce healing macropeptides. One scoop daily in smoothies or made into crepes are two of the easiest ways to enjoy these super-charged superfoods. Here’s my recipe that I use for dessert crepes (I use fresh berries inside).
9. Sea vegetables (agar, arame, hijiki, kombu, nori, sea palms, and wakame) have some of the highest mineral content of any plants—especially calcium, non-heme iron, and iodine (the most highly deficient mineral among the men I have been testing) Sea veggies are well known to protect against environmental pollutants; McGill researchers find that the alginic acid they contain help to bind to nuclear wastes and remove them from the system.
If you do venture into the sea veggie route, I suggest sea veggies from Maine (like those from Maine Coast Sea Vegetables) as I have increasing concern about the purity of all seafoods and algae found in the Pacific. Since March of 2011, 300 to 400 tons of contaminated water from Fukushima have been dumped into the Pacific Ocean and the Japanese plants are still leaking radioactive wastes (see this 2012 article from Medical News Today). I recommend that dads enjoy toasted nori or kombu added to soups at least two to three times weekly.
10. Walnuts are the ideal protein snack for men—with significant amounts of omega-3s. The USDA is studying the potential of walnuts in protecting nerve cells in the brain that degenerate with aging—so nibble on these nutritious nuts and toss a few into salads and/or stir frys for extra crunch appeal. Best kept in the shell until ready to eat, four walnuts a day will keep the blues away!
11. Yogurt is one of the most easily assimilated sources of calcium. It’s easily digested, less likely to cause allergic reactions than other dairy foods, and rich in probiotics, beneficial bacteria vital to healthy digestive and immune systems.
Yogurt is also an unexpected source of iodine, helping to promote better thyroid function if those sea veggies are not to your man’s liking. My favorite snack is creamy Greek-style yogurt—mixed with berries and chia or flaxseed! (Dad will especially love Straus Family Creamery’s Organic GMO-free variety.)
Happy Father’s Day to all the super dads out there and a special remembrance to my late father Arthur Gittleman, the first man in my life!