While there is no single food that provides all the nutrition men need, there are many foods that provide nutrients that help support men’s health. These various foods are rich in protein, fiber, and healthy fats.
Wondering what are the best foods for men’s health? Explore what foods offer specific benefits for men’s health that are research-backed and why they are so important.
The Top 19 Foods to Boost Men’s Health
Do meat and high protein foods come to mind as the best food for men? While these foods have their nutritional merits, men can benefit from a variety of foods beyond just protein. From meat protein sources to high-fiber plants, these are the top healthy food for men.
Starting the day with breakfast is a great way to energize and fuel the body. And overnight oats make for a convenient, nutritious breakfast.
Oats are rich in dietary fiber, which helps lower bad cholesterol and improve digestion health. Oats are also one of the best foods for men since a high-fiber diet may lead to healthy testosterone levels. The recommended daily intake of fiber for men is 38 grams of fiber.
Oats and other whole grains are rich suppliers of magnesium, which may positively influence testosterone and other anabolic hormones. Iron, plant-based protein, and some B vitamins are other nutrients oats offer.
Dairy milk and products are rich in calcium, a mineral vital for keeping bones strong. And men, especially with age, need to ensure adequate intake of calcium to support bone health.
Milk is often fortified with vitamin D, a nutrient essential for bone health, and provides 8 grams of protein per cup. It also offers phosphorus, iodine, and vitamins B6 and B12. Some studies, including a 2019 study with data from 1,381 men, have linked vitamin B12 deficiency with erectile dysfunction.
Oysters are packed with zinc, a vital mineral for testosterone production and sperm counts. Zinc is also a mineral imperative for skin cell formation and proper wound healing.
Oysters also offer protein, vitamin D, iron, vitamin B12, and other valuable nutrients for men.
Fatty fish are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, a type of healthy fat with anti-inflammatory properties. Lowering inflammation in the body can help lower the risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and cognitive decline.
Fatty fish provide protein, zinc, and vitamin D as well. If not keen on fish, flaxseed, canola oil, and various nuts and seeds are likewise good sources of omega-3s.
Lean Red Meat
Red meat often gets a bad reputation, particularly related to speculated risks of heart disease. But choosing lean cuts of red meat offers men many health benefits.
First off, lean red meat is rich in protein and essential amino acids, which help preserve and grow muscle. This particularly serves true when combined with resistance training.
Choosing grass-fed over grain-fed can also offer additional benefits. For example, a 2022 review suggests grass-fed beef supplies more omega-3 fatty acids with reduced overall saturated fat. Grass-fed beef is also a rich source of protein, zinc, iron, and vitamins A and E.
Eggs and the cholesterol they contain were discouraged not terribly long ago. But fast forward to today, research shows blood cholesterol is mostly impacted by saturated fat and sugar intake instead of cholesterol from food.
Skimping out on eggs means skimping out on a number of nutrients. In fact, eggs are considered the least inexpensive source of high-quality protein that money can buy. The yolks are one of the very few food sources naturally supplying vitamin D, too.
Eggs are also a valuable source of choline, the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, selenium, phosphorus, and some B vitamins.
Especially if avoiding or reducing animal meat intake, beans are a great plant-based protein source to include. They are also rich in dietary fiber, antioxidants, copper, iron, potassium, phosphorus, and other beneficial nutrients.
Beans are cost-friendly and extremely versatile, as they can be thrown into a salad, soup, chili, and casseroles. Just be sure to rinse canned beans prior to using them to reduce the sodium content.
Yogurt offers probiotics, live microorganisms that balance the microbiome. The bacteria are mostly recognized for digestive and immune system support, though they may assist in weight regulation as well.
For the best nutritional profile for men, choose plain Greek yogurt for added protein and reduced sugar content. Use plain Greek yogurt in place of sour cream or mayo in savory dishes. Offer natural sweetness and fiber by layering yogurt with fresh fruit as well.
Tart Cherry Juice
Regular exercise is essential for overall health but so is the need for rest and recovery.
Tart cherries offer powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may be able to treat and prevent sore muscles.
Evidence supports such a compelling benefit, too. Research in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found ingesting tart cherry juice for 7 days prior to and during a strenuous running event can minimize post-run muscle pain.
Tart cherries are also chock full of valuable minerals, including copper, manganese, and potassium. Vitamins A, C, and K are present in the cherries as well.
Brazil nuts are the richest food source of selenium and supply well over the daily recommended intake of the mineral. Men should consume 55 micrograms of selenium daily, and brazil nuts supply 1275 mcg per ½ cup!
Selenium plays a critical role in reproduction, thyroid function, and DNA synthesis. The mineral may also protect from cell damage and reduce the risks of heart disease, prostate cancer, and infertility.
Brazil nuts also supply monounsaturated fat, protein, zinc, magnesium, calcium, vitamin E, and some B vitamins.
Bananas are notorious for their potassium content, which is an extremely important mineral and electrolyte. Potassium works with sodium, another critical electrolyte, inside the body’s cells to create nerve impulses, muscle contractions, and heart function.
Adequate potassium may decrease the risk of certain chronic diseases, including stroke, osteoporosis, and kidney stones. Potassium also proves to lower high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.
Noshing on bananas may also relieve hangovers if happy hour got too happy. They do so by providing carbs to stabilize blood sugars and replenishing lost electrolytes.
Blueberries and other berries are naturally low in calories and packed with antioxidants. The gallic acid sourced from blueberries may also help prevent premature skin aging.
Berries also contain the antioxidant anthocyanin, which is the pigment responsible for red, purple, and blue crops. The pigment may inhibit the development or progression of skin cancer by protecting it from sun damage.
In addition to skin health, men can benefit from eating blueberries because they have been shown to offer specific protection against cognitive decline, according to a 2014 review.
Popeye truly was onto something when electing spinach as his food of choice. Those leafy greens are packed to the brim with nutrients important for men including iron, calcium, folate, and vitamin C.
Spinach is also extremely versatile in the kitchen. Mix spinach into a salad, saute with garlic and olive oil, and blend and hide in smoothies and sauces.
Tomatoes and related products are rich in lycopene, a pigment that delivers powerful antioxidant properties.
Lycopene may protect from skin damage, heart disease, and numerous cancer types, including prostate cancer. In fact, a 2015 review found higher intake of lycopene was associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer. Tomatoes and lycopene may improve erectile dysfunction, too.
In addition, tomatoes are packed with potassium, vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate as well.
Carrots are known for their vitamin A and beta carotene content, which supports eye and skin health. But the starchy veggie is also rich in other nutrients such as fiber, potassium, and vitamin K.
Additional health benefits of carrots include blood sugar control and improved digestion. They can augment heart health, too, by lowering cholesterol.
Fruits are mostly known for their natural sweetness and carb content. However, avocados are an exception to that rule.
Interestingly, avocados are packed with monounsaturated fat, a healthy fat known for its cardio-protective properties. The fat may also improve insulin levels and control blood sugar levels.
Avocados are excellent sources of fiber, potassium, folate, copper, and vitamins B6, C, E, and K.
Like avocados, olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats. And especially when swapping out butter and margarine, olive oil has shown to be highly beneficial to heart health.
Adding olive oil to meals may reduce after-meal blood sugar levels, too.
Dark chocolate and cocoa contain both saturated and monounsaturated fats. They also supply a healthy dose of various vitamins, minerals, and powerful antioxidants.
The nutrients from dark chocolate may protect against heart disease and stroke. Dark chocolate can also provide men the benefits of boosted memory, cognition, and overall mental health.
But to keep sugar in check, use cocoa powder in cooking and look for dark chocolate products with minimal added sugars. A general rule of thumb is the higher the percentage of cocoa, the higher the nutrient amount in the dark chocolate.
Ginger offers a pungent and spicy flavor to a variety of foods. Ginger can offer several benefits to men’s health as well.
For example, some animal studies suggest ginger may help increase testosterone levels. Ginger can treat an upset stomach, nausea, vomiting, and digestion as well. It may also ease pain related to headaches and various forms of arthritis.
Healthy Food for Men Recap
Eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, heart-healthy fats, and lean proteins can provide nutrients that can benefit anyone’s health. However, certain foods have been shown to uniquely benefit men’s health by promoting healthy testosterone levels and protecting prostate health such as oysters, tomatoes, and Brazil nuts.
Some foods can help lower the risk for heart disease, which is a number one killer for men, in addition to offering a variety of other health benefits men can benefit from. Examples of these foods include oats, milk, fatty fish, ginger, olive oil, carrots, spinach, and blueberries.