Build muscle: In his 20s, a man’s muscle-building hormones (testosterone, DHEA growth hormone) hit their peak, so this is the best time to pack on muscle. Registered holistic nutritionist Peggy Kotsopoulos suggests resistance training for strong bones and cardio for heart health.
Get plenty of omega-3s: “They help to reduce inflammation in the body, lubricate joints, aid in muscle recovery, keep the mind sharp, prevent heart disease and prevent erectile dysfunction,” explains Kotsopoulos. Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include oily fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel and cod; chia seeds, flax seeds or walnuts; and fish oil supplements.
Fortify with folate: Folate helps prevent irregular DNA production, which could lead to some cancers. Nutritionist Dawn Napoli of MD Anderson Cancer Center in Orlando, Florida, recommends eating one cup of folate-fortified cereal four times a week with a half-cup of blackberries, raspberries and strawberries for increased antioxidant properties.
Keep your cool: A man’s blood pressure often increases in the 30s due to stress. To reduce hypertension, Napoli suggests a higher intake of potassium rather than sodium, as recommended by the DASH diet. For example, consuming a half-cup of beans, a banana or a handful of raisins daily increases potassium by 400 mg per day.
Smart snacks: Snack on foods low in sugar and rich in protein to slow down your metabolism. Napoli suggests noshing on a slice of cheddar, Swiss or provolone cheese, a cup of low-fat plain yogurt, a stick of beef jerky or a handful of almonds.
Load up on antioxidants: Colorful foods packed with antioxidants (berries, apples, beets, broccoli, dark chocolate) protect cells against free-radical damage. “[Antioxidants] are especially important if you are at a higher risk for diseases like cancer, [prone to] stress or engage in sports or intense exercise,” says Kotsopoulos.
One way to get the vitamin A-rich antioxidant beta-carotene in your diet, Napoli says, is to eat two sweet potatoes a week. Similarly, red grapes have been linked to lowering LDL cholesterol and preventing clogged arteries. Napoli recommends 12 to 15 grapes a day or a one- to four-ounce glass of red wine each day.
Fiber is your friend: Fiber found in all plant-based foods (leafy greens, vegetables, beans and legumes) helps eliminate bad cholesterol and toxins from the body, helping reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, prostate cancer and diabetes.
Protect your prostate: Harvard researchers found that men with the highest levels of selenium had a 48 percent lower incidence of advanced prostate cancer. Napoli says eating three Brazil nuts a day equals 200 mcg of selenium.
Keep eyes healthy: According to the National Institutes of Health, people with the highest lutein consumption are 43 percent less likely to develop age-related eye disorders like cataracts and macular degeneration. Napoli advises to getting lutein with two servings of greens per day (a half-cup of cooked broccoli, spinach or Brussels sprouts equals one serving).
Boost brain function: Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory that can help prevent disease and reduce the buildup of protein deposits in the brain that cause dementia and Alzheimer's.
Keep bones strong: Like women, many men experience bone loss as they age. Registered dietitian Kristin Kirkpatrick says fighting against this may be as simple as eating Greek yogurt. A recent study found that probiotics may be a treatment option for patients with osteoporosis. Strength training and vitamin D are also required to maintain healthy bones.
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