For the most part, it's a myth that men and women need to eat different diets – calorie requirements aside. But there are certain foods and nutrients that men tend to lack in their diets – or could simply do with topping up on. These foods will deliver a payload of impressive health benefits while having relatively little impact on your routine. Fill your basket.
Multiple studies show that reaping a bigger portion of our protein from plants cuts instances of heart disease. But, according to a Frontiers in Psychology study, men still strongly associate “meat” with “health” – more so than women do. As well as packing 9g of protein per serving, black beans are rich in resistant starch, which balances the effects of a steak-heavy diet.
While the efficacy of fish oil supplements for general health is debatable, a recent Danish study linked them to a higher sperm count in young men. We’d advise going straight to the source: oily fish such as mackerel or salmon are also a top source of vitamin D, which has been linked to testosterone production and the maintenance of muscle mass.
On average, British men eat about 21g of fibre a day – short of the 30g needed for optimal health. Fibre is essential for maintaining digestive health and normal cholesterol (it’s estimated more than half of men over 40 have levels that skew high). A portion of wholemeal pasta packs about 6.5g. Cook it al dente, so its sugars are more slowly absorbed.
One of the biggest gender differences in our diets? Women eat a lot more fruit. But the reasons to up your five-a-day game extend beyond fibre and antioxidants: researchers from York and Leeds have found that those men who eat more fruit and veg daily have improved mental well-being. Berries are lower in carbs and sugar than most others.
Sub out the dry-roasted peanuts. In one study, healthy men who ate 75g a day for 12 weeks saw improvements in the vitality and motility of their sperm, with fewer abnormalities. This is without any notable changes in bodyweight. As well as healthy fats, they’re also rich in vital minerals which help to maintain healthy muscle function.
Almost a third of UK men have high blood pressure, compared to just a quarter of women. We won’t give you another sermon on salt, but research shows increasing your intake of the mineral potassium is one of the smartest ways to fight against it. A sweet potato packs about 20% of your RDA, but standard white spuds just edges it with 26%.
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