Good news if you’re worried about your prostate health: What you eat can make a difference. “There is plenty of strong evidence that good nutrition and an active lifestyle can reduce the likelihood of prostate cancer and slow its progression,” says Mitchell Sokoloff M.D., Chair of the Department of Urology and Professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
Here’s a look at the top five foods to eat for a healthy prostate:
This class of vegetables includes things like cabbage, bok choy, kale, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. Cruciferous vegetables are high in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. Broccoli, often hailed as a prostate super food, contains glucoraphanin, a phytochemical (phyto means “plant”) which researchers suggest can convert to substances that potentially target and prevent cancer cell growth. Studies suggest that eating cruciferous vegetables can lower inflammation, which is related to your risk of getting prostate cancer.
“Oxidative stress” is what scientists call the incremental damage that builds up over many years. It’s caused by “free radicals,” which are toxic byproducts of metabolism. When uncontrolled, free radicals wreak havoc on the body by stealing electrons, causing oxidative damage to cells and DNA. Damaged DNA cannot replicate properly, potentially leading to cancerous changes in cells. Antioxidants help to neutralize and remove free radicals from the body. Berries are a great source, particularly strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries. These fruits offer up powerful antioxidants known as anthocyanins.
Certain fish (especially cold-water fish like salmon, sardines, and trout) provide “good fats” that don’t trigger inflammation the same way as saturated animal fats (e.g., beef fat). Over the past few years, scientists have begun to see inflammation within the prostate as a dangerous condition that can make it easier for cancer to take hold. Interestingly, not all fish are created equal. One study, led by Harvard scientists Fred Tabung, Ph.D., M.S.P.H., and Edward Giovannucci, M.D., Sc.D., examined the relationship between diet and inflammation and found that canned tuna, shrimp, lobster, scallops, and “other” fish were more inflammatory than “dark-meat” fish like salmon or red snapper.
Tomatoes are one food that’s been on prostate cancer researchers’ radar for a long time, and here’s why. Lycopene is another powerful antioxidant and is found in the cell walls of tomatoes. The cooking process loosens the bond, making it easier for our bodies to access the antioxidant and send it to the prostate. Dr. Mucci notes, “When a man eats a diet high in lycopene, for some reason, lycopene levels in the prostate go up.” Tomato sauce, paste, and juice can help our bodies make the most of this nutritional superstar. Even better: cook your tomatoes in olive oil, which helps the body absorb lycopene.
Coffee & Tea
You might have heard about green tea as a source of antioxidants such as catechins, which are believed to be anti-carcinogenic and anti-mutagenic (preventing healthy cells from mutating). A systematic review of multiple studies published in Medicine (Baltimore) suggested that men who drank seven cups of green tea per day had a decreased risk of prostate cancer.
You may be more surprised to find coffee on this list. “Coffee is looking more and more promising,” says Dr. Mucci, “There are now a number of studies that suggest drinking coffee regularly, one to two cups a day, can help prevent prostate cancer.”
Coffee and tea offer an important segue into the topic of what NOT to eat. Top of the list? Sugar. If you’re going to drink coffee and tea, make sure to keep the sugar at a minimum, which means staying away from the double-cream pre-sweetened lattes from your favorite coffee chain.
The best way to avoid having any diseases is to maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes avoiding carcinogens, eating a healthy diet, exercise on a regular basis to ensure that you obtain the optimal mixture of nutrients for prostate gland health, incorporate a dietary supplement developed by a profession urologist to help ensure your prostate functions well for your entire lifetime.