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Food for Men: 10 Foods to Boost Male Health

Foods men should include in their diets to improve health and prevent disease.
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WebMD Expert Column

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 doctor and spokeswoman 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 Cures and 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, author of 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life.

With the help of the experts, here is a list of 10 foods that can be a good start to improving health:

Food for Men No. 1: Oysters

Could there be something to the legend that oysters are the food of love? Well, it's true that just a few oysters each day will deliver a full day’s supply of the antioxidant mineral zinc. Zinc is involved in hundreds of body processes, from producing DNA to repairing cells.

"Research shows that adequate zinc may protect against cellular damage that leads to prostate cancer," says Grotto. "Sexual functioning of the male reproductive system, including increased sperm counts, is also enhanced with zinc."

Take caution when considering eating uncooked oysters. An infection called Vibrio vulnificus is associated with the consumption of raw oysters. People with liver disease, heavy alcohol use, and chronic illnesses such as diabetes mellitus, rheumatoid arthritis, and chronic renal failure are at increased risk.

You can also get your daily recommended dose of 11 milligrams a day by eating other shellfish, lean beef, lean pork, or legumes.

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