Men are different from women in all kinds of ways -- including their nutritional needs. Just as women need particular nutrients during pregnancy or for protection from breast cancer, men need nutrients that can help them maintain muscle mass, prevent prostate cancer, and more.
Many foods that tend to be favorites among men are not the best choices for good health. Yet a healthy diet and regular physical activity can help prevent heart disease and cancer, the No. 1 and No. 2 killers for men over 35. They can also enhance performance, from the board room to the bedroom.
Christine Gerbstadt, MD, RD, notes that any food that is good for the cardiovascular system is also good for erectile function in men.
"Nutrients that are good for the heart improve circulation to all parts of the body, and these same nutrients provide a layer of protection against cancer and other chronic diseases," says Gerbstadt, a Florida-based physician and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.
Quality nutrients are also critical for maintaining immune function and preventing bone loss, muscle loss, and oxidative damage from the environment, Of course, any one (or 10) foods can't do the job alone. An overall healthy lifestyle, which also includes not smoking and getting regular physical activity, is what's really important for health, say the experts.
"It is not about one single food or even a handful of foods. What is more important is the pattern of regularly consuming a diet rich in a variety of essential nutrients," says Joy Bauer, MS, RD, author of Joy Bauer's Food Curesand Today Show nutrition expert.
Still, adding nutrient-rich super foods to the diet, as well as taking a daily multivitamin designed exclusively for men (for nutritional insurance), can give men's nutrition a boost, says Dave Grotto, RD, an American Dietetic Association spokesman.