March is National Nutrition Month, when the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reminds everyone to return to the basics of healthy eating. It is also the time of year when the Academy celebrates expertise of registered dietitian nutritionists as the food and nutrition experts.
Food is more than just fuel. Your diet can help fight disease and keep you looking and acting younger. How a man eats throughout his life can help predict how well (or not) he ages.
A healthy diet for men includes:
- For vitamins, minerals and fiber, eat at least 2 cups of fruits and 2½ cups of vegetables each day.
- Whole grains. Eat at least half of all grains as whole grains each day. Replace refined grains with whole-grain bread, cereal, pasta, brown rice or oats.
- At least two to three servings of fish per week.
- At least 38 grams of fiber a day for younger men; 30 grams of fiber a day for men older than 50.
- Unsaturated fats such as oils, nuts and oil-based salad dressings in place of saturated fats including full-fat dairy foods, butter and high-fat sweets.
- 4,700 milligrams a day of potassium from fruits, vegetables, fish and milk.
Since men have more muscle and are typically bigger than women, they require more calories throughout the day. Moderately active males should eat 2,000 to 2,800 calories per day. Your energy needs depend on your height, weight and activity level.
For energy, weight management and disease prevention, men should eat whole grains such as whole-grain bread, pasta, cereal, brown rice, oats, barley, fruits and vegetables. These foods are high in fiber, help manage hunger and fullness and help fend off certain cancers, such as prostate and colon.
Men are typically meat-eaters because of the perception that more protein equals more muscle mass. That is not the case unless exercise is involved. Men tend to view red meat as more masculine than other proteins; often this leads them to "order the steak." It's not the steak that's unhealthy, it's skipping the whole grains and vegetables. In addition, excessive meat eating is linked to heart disease and colorectal cancer in men.
Eat red meat less frequently, and, instead, focus on more fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products. This will not only help you keep weight off, but it can help keep blood pressure down. Cut down on saturated fat from meat, cheese and fried foods. Instead, opt for foods with unsaturated, heart-healthy fats such as olive oil, canola oil, nuts, seeds and avocadoes.
Weight and Disease Risk
More than women, men gain weight around the middle; that's due to the male hormone testosterone. If your waist measures more than 40 inches around, it's time to shed some pounds. This fat around the waist is typically buried deep in the abdomen and increases your risk for diabetes, heart disease and dementia.