Plain and simple, healthy foods make healthy men. Food choices influence men’s health. And if you had to define “health,” what would you say? Sufficient energy and stamina? Or just feeling lucky to get through the day with minimal pain and few complaints?
What you feed your body matters. Healthy nutrition is a giant pillar of health and men, who make wise food choices, are more likely to reduce their risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and prostate cancer.
Most men know what foods they should be eating – more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meat, and low-fat dairy. But do you know which foods should be avoided, especially as you age? Which foods are high in unhealthy fats, too many calories, excessive salt, and sugar?
Here’s a look at five foods men should steer clear of and what foods men should be eating instead:
1. Fatty lunch meats
Salami, pepperoni, bologna, hot dogs…full of saturated fat and sodium, these fatty meats are a man’s worst health nightmare. Blame it on saturated fat; eating these processed meats can raise unhealthy or “bad” cholesterol placing men at risk for heart disease, the number one killer of American men. In addition to increasing the chance of a heart attack or stroke, fatty lunch meats have been linked to colorectal, one of the deadliest cancers when not caught early in the U.S.
What to eat instead: Skip fatty luncheon meats and opt for grilled or roasted boneless, skinless chicken breast on a whole grain bun. Keep the portion size between 3-4 ounces, about the size of the palm of your hand. Or choose a heart healthy fatty fish such as tuna or salmon as a high protein alternative.
2. American cheese
Is there a man in the U.S. who has not used American cheese in their grilled cheese sandwich? This cheese-like concoction is not “real” cheese but instead includes other ingredients like oil, milk fat, starch, salt, and preservatives, providing that smooth texture and glossy mouth feel you’ve come to expect. While it may taste good, this cheese-like product is a highly processed food with lots of fat, salt, and additives giving it that bright yellow color and extending its shelf life forever.
What to eat instead: Goat cheese is a wonderful alternative and is “real” cheese. Because goat cheese’s fatty acid content is different than cow’s milk cheese, many people find it easier to digest and it contains fewer calories of 80 calories per ounce. Unfortunately, this cheese has a high saturated fat content, but a 2018 study found it may not increase a man’s risk of heart disease because of its unique fatty acid composition.
3. Protein bars
Now, wait a minute! Aren’t protein bars amazingly healthy and good for men? Not always, as some are often candy bars in disguise. Just because the food manufacturer adds the word “protein” in front of “bar” instead of “candy” does not necessarily make it a healthy food. Sure, the protein content is often higher than a candy bar, but many are loaded with calories and lots of added sugar.
What to eat instead: Skip the protein bar and grab a handful of almonds, walnuts, or cashews, along with fruit for a high fiber, high protein snack. Or have low-sodium beef jerky with orange slices for a fill-me-up snack keeping your energy levels high.
4. Sugary kid’s cereals or pastries
If you’re that guy who still likes his Captain Crunch or Pop-Tarts, it’s time to quit having dessert at breakfast. These sweet concoctions are a sugar and calorie bomb with little fiber or protein. Men (and women) need adequate protein between 25 to 30 grams at each meal. Protein is necessary for maintaining muscle mass, squelches hunger cravings, and provides numerous enzymes essential for day-to-day functioning.
What to eat instead: Start your day like a grown-up by choosing scrambled or hard-boiled eggs with whole wheat toast and fruit. Greek yogurt mixed with granola and frozen fruit is another good option for protein and fiber. Or have a homemade breakfast burrito using a whole wheat tortilla, eggs and sausage, peppers, cheese, and black beans for a satiating start to your day.
5. Fast-food burgers
Forgo fast food burgers. Most patties sold in fast-food places have a whopping 64% of their calories coming from fat. Knowing the harmful effects of too many fatty foods is a tough sell.
What to eat instead: Bypass the burger and order instead a grilled chicken sandwich or a plain baked potato and a small chili. Even ordering a chicken or fish taco or bean burrito are better options with much less fat and calories too.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncolo gy and prostate cancer 911.