June is Men's Health Month as we celebrate the various men in our lives - fathers, sons, uncles, grandfathers, brothers, cousins, nephews, husbands and partners. Besides wearing blue, the main purpose of Men's Health Month is to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease amongst men and boys.
Dietary choices and physical inactivity contribute to 678,000 deaths each year in the USA. The typical American diet tends to be too high in calories, sugar, fat, cholesterol, and sodium, while also being deficient in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fiber.
Here are three easy ways to help the men in our lives take care of their health - the ABC's
As we are speaking about men's health, the topic usually veers into cancer prevention and prostate health. One of my favorite things to consume are tomatoes - both raw and cooked, which possess a powerful antioxidant called lycopene. In research, lycopene-rich foods have shown beneficial properties, mainly 1) antioxidant potential, 2) suppressing carcinogens, and 3) inhibiting cancer cell proliferation. In essence, consuming lycopene-rich foods may play a role in the reduction of prostate cancer. Enjoy your tomatoes, especially cooked tomatoes which show an increase in the absorption of lycopene. Pizza sauce, sun-dried tomato, canned tomatoes, tomato paste, and tomato juice are all great options.
If you feel you are deficient or not getting enough, gradually increase your intake of fruits and vegetables. If you are consuming 1 serving of fruit per day, try to consume 2 servings 3-4 times per week. Gradually increasing your intake over time will allow you to build it into your daily habits. The same applies to vegetables - try to consume 1 serving at lunch and another at dinner, and build up from there.
Some simple strategies to assist with heart-health include: 1) choosing leaner cuts of meat, 2) limit processed meats, and 3) consume fish, nuts, legumes, and seeds. Funny enough, two other strategies for heart-health include increasing your physical activity and increasing your fruit and vegetable intake which are mentioned above.
In summary, let's encourage all of the men in our lives to A (get more active), B (enjoy the bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables), and C (take care of their cardiovascular health) their way to optimal health and wellness.
Angel Planells MS, RDN CD is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist residing in Seattle, Washington. He specializes in lifecycle nutrition, sports nutrition, and weight management.