The American Cancer Society has stated that prostate cancer is the most prevalent form of cancer in men, with 1 out 8 men in the US being diagnosed with it. (1) If you’re a man who’s concerned about his prostate health, you’re in luck – the foods you eat can make a difference.
A large amount of compelling evidence shows that good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle can help decrease your risk of developing prostate cancer. You can ensure a healthy prostate by consuming plenty of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods.
Generally speaking, for optimal prostate health you should consume a diet that includes plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts and fish, moderate amounts of meat, and little-to no sugar or processed foods. This style of eating is often referred to as the Mediterranean Diet.
The Mediterranean diet has been shown to have a positive effect on cardiovascular health, blood sugar, and weight management, while decreasing inflammation in the body.
Top 7 Foods For Prostate Health
The health of your prostate and your overall health can be significantly impacted by your diet. You can reduce your chances of developing problems with your prostate by eating nutritious and prostate-healthy foods.
While it’s always recommended to schedule regular screenings for prostate cancer with your healthcare provider, you can get started with improving your prostate health by including the following 7 foods with your diet.
Cruciferous vegetables contain high levels of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and includes vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, and bok-choy. Some research indicates that there is a correlation between eating cruciferous vegetables and a lower risk for developing prostate cancer. (2)
Broccoli, in particular, is often referred to as a prostate superfood, as it contains complex compounds that research suggests could help to protect against cancer. Studies indicate that consuming cruciferous vegetables may decrease inflammation, which is associated with the risk for developing prostate cancer.
Researchers aren’t exactly sure why, but they believe that certain phytochemicals found in broccoli (including sulforaphane, and glucoraphanin) may selectively target and destroy prostate cancer cells. (3)
Blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries are all rich in antioxidants that help eliminate free radicals. Free radicals, which are toxic byproducts from metabolism, can cause oxidative damage to DNA and cells if they aren’t controlled.
DNA that becomes damaged does not replicate properly and could lead to the formation of cancerous cells. Berries contain powerful antioxidants (called anthocyanins) that can
neutralize and eliminate free radicals in the body.
Beans, lentils and peanuts all belong to a food group called legumes, which contain active compounds referred to as phytoestrogens. In particular, isoflavones are a type of phytoestrogen that may be beneficial for prostate health.
One review of research studies indicated that men who consumed the highest amounts of phytoestrogens had a 20% lower risk of developing prostate cancer, compared to men who consumed the lowest amounts. (4)
The antioxidant and hormone regulation effects that phytoestrogens have may be responsible for their cancer-fighting properties. Although more research is needed, some studies have shown that soybean isoflavones are associated with a lower risk of developing prostate cancer. (5)
According to the NCI (National Cancer Institute), there is a link between soy consumption and lower PSA levels (prostate-specific antigen, which is a prostate-produced protein). (6) Used as a screening tool for prostate cancer, a PSA test measures your blood PSA levels.
However, the research also appeared to show that soy is more effective when it’s consumed with other cancer-fighting foods.
Some fish, particularly oily cold-water fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines, contain healthy fats (such as omega-3 fatty acids) which don’t cause inflammation the way that saturated animal fats can. These essential fatty acids (called polyunsaturated fats) cannot be synthesized by your body, and they can only be obtained from diet.
Consuming omega-3s has been linked to a reduction in inflammation. Researchers have recognized inflammation in the prostate as a serious problem that could make it easier to develop cancer.
However, not all fish are equally beneficial. For example, one study looked at the impact of diet on inflammation and found that canned tuna, shellfish, and other seafoods were less anti-inflammatory than darker-meat fish like red snapper or salmon.
Consuming fatty fish has many other benefits for health. To increase your omega-3 intake, eat fatty fish sourced from cold waters, such as:
- Red Snapper
Many studies have shown that higher intakes of omega-3 fats may reduce the risk of death from prostate cancer. However, further research is necessary, particularly in humans. (7)
Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that’s found in certain fruits and vegetables, such as tomatoes. Studies indicate that consuming a diet rich in lycopene could help decrease your risk of getting prostate cancer. (8)
Cooking makes it easier for the body to absorb the lycopene and deliver it to the prostate. Lycopene levels in the prostate increase when men eat a diet that contains high levels of this antioxidant.
It is believed that lycopene may reduce cell damage and slow down the formation of cancer cells. Although further research is required to verify these effects, studies indicate that men who eat more tomatoes are less likely than others to develop prostate cancer. (9)
Good sources of lycopene include cooked or pureed tomato products, such as:
- Tomato paste
- Tomato juice
- Tomato soup
- Grilled tomatoes
You can make your tomatoes even healthier by cooking them with olive oil. This will help the lycopene to be better absorbed by the body.
Pomegranates are a fruit that’s packed with antioxidants, which is one of the reasons that pomegranate juice is known as a superfood. Chronic diseases associated with oxidative stress may be prevented by consuming antioxidants.
According to the NCI, pomegranate juice may help prevent the growth and spread of prostate cancer cells. (10) In fact, both test-tube and animal studies have shown that pomegranate juice restrict the formation of prostate cancer cells. (11)
Green Tea and Coffee
For thousands of years, people have used green tea for its benefits to health. Green tea is known for its antioxidants, including catechins. Catechins are thought to prevent healthy cells from mutating and protect them against cancer. Many studies have been conducted on the effects of green tea on cancer.
There is evidence to indicate that the special compounds found in green tea that may lower the risk of developing prostate cancer. These compounds affect tumor growth, cell death and hormone signaling. (12)
It may come as a surprise to see coffee listed here, but several studies have shown that consuming 1-2 cups of coffee per day on a regular basis could be effective at preventing prostate cancer.
Keep in mind that when consuming these beverages, you should avoid adding a lot of sugar or drinking those pre-sweetened lattes from your local coffee shop.
Adopt Healthy Eating Habits
Rather than focusing only on certain foods, nutritionists, dietitians and physicians suggest following a general lifestyle of eating a healthy diet. Eating healthy is a lot easier than you might imagine.
Here are a few general guidelines to get you started:
- Every day, try to eat at least five portions of colorful fruits and veggies.
- Whole-grain bread is a better choice than white bread. The same is true for whole-grain cereals and pastas.
- Red meats such as beef, pork and lamb should be eaten in moderation. Avoid processed meats like hot dogs and bologna. Protein sources that are more nutritious include fish, eggs, chicken, and beans.
- Olive oil, avocado oil, and nut oils are all good choices for healthy fats. Use saturated fats from milk and other animal products in moderation. Avoid trans fats and partially hydrogenated oils, which can be found in many pre-packaged, processed and fast foods.
- Avoid sugar-sweetened food and beverages including candy and sodas. Treat yourself to sweets only every now and again.
- Reduce salt intake Read and compare food labels to find foods that are low in sodium.
- Stick with fresh foods as much as possible, and limit your intake of canned, frozen, and processed foods.
- Be mindful of your portion sizes. Chew your food thoroughly and eat slowly. When you start to feel full, stop eating.
The Bottom Line
The essential compounds found in many foods may protect your prostate health and lower your chance for developing prostate cancer. However, further research is still needed to determine exactly how diet impacts prostate health.
Because certain foods can interact with drugs or therapies, it’s recommended that you consult your doctor prior to making any changes in your diet, particularly if you’re undergoing treatment for prostate problems.
Even so, the foods listed here are healthy and nutritious. These foods can not only help keep your prostate healthy, but can improve your overall health and fitness.
- https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam/hp/prostate-supplements-pdq#_163 PSA
Mark McIntyre is the founder of MaleHealthReview.com and acts as it’s chief contributor. He is a fitness trainer and avid mountain biker who also enjoys camping, hiking and fishing. Besides managing Male Health Review, Mark is also a guest columnist for several blogs related to men’s health. More about this author…