Frugal Foodie: Super-Powered Men’s Health Foods to Impress Absolutely Everyone
Men’s health often gets overlooked. That’s why we are dedicating this Frugal Foodie post to the men in our lives. Forget “juicing” – we’re covering the most powerful foods for men’s health and how to eat for less.
The Advice Surrounding Men’s Health
There’s a ton of advice out there recommending a trendy, expensive new diet or two. Plenty of them promise to melt away fat and extend your lifespan. How do you cut through the hype to find the truth?
What about all those awful diseases the media says you’ll get if you don’t bathe in coconut oil or juiced kale and blueberry bone broth? Yes, it can get ridiculously overwhelming, and like Sweet Brown says:
Let’s be realistic, you can’t try all these things anyway. In fact, you shouldn’t try them all. Bouncing from diet to diet fad is a quick way to get overwhelmed and return to bad habits. You’re trying to be healthy and inspiring, not worn out! Right?
The truth is, most men don’t need magic supplements or diet pills to get healthier… just good habits and better food choices.
6 Major Men’s Health Problems
You know the old saying, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”? Well, unless you’re The Hulk, that quote doesn’t hold true for men’s health. Take a look at the major causes of illness in men in the image above.
Notice something? Most of these diseases that heavily affect men, (like type 2 diabetes and heart disease) are somewhat preventable, “lifestyle” diseases. That means they are partly influenced by the way people live.
Which foods are best for common men’s health concerns?
The good news is that just as afflictions like cancer and respiratory diseases can be affected by lifestyle factors (like smoking or pollution), certain nutrients can reduce your risks. Since a lot of these nutrients are packed into specific foods, it’s simple to narrow down what men really need. Chowing down on them doesn’t have to cost much money either!
Let’s examine which foods are best for the top male health concerns:
Who you will impress: That Special Someone
What: Walnuts Walnut’s superpower: Since this person has your heart, shouldn’t you keep it as healthy as possible? Omega-3 fatty acids in walnuts can also improve levels of fat in the blood. They also have a rare antioxidant that actually protects your heart, slowing harmful aging of the arteries.
Walnuts are chock-full of fiber, which most men seriously lack in their diets. Marvelous nutrients like copper and manganese balance cholesterol and blood sugar levels, reducing your risks of heart disease and prostate cancer.
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), the average life expectancy for American men is 5.2 years lower than for women. Since heart disease is the number 1 killer of men, crunching on walnuts daily can help you live a longer, happier life with your sweetheart. Who wouldn’t love that?
How to save money on walnuts: Most walnuts in the U.S. are grown domestically, which is great news for your wallet! Spend less by buying them locally (like at farmers markets) or at larger discount stores (Costco, Sam’s). You’ll want to buy only the dry-roasted walnuts still in their shells. They’ll stay fresher for longer, they’re healthier and much cheaper than shelled, salted walnuts.
How to eat walnuts: Crumble on cereal or in a light dessert, try plain, lightly roasted with a little honey and cinnamon, in salads, or added to pasta sauce! Eat with the thin, slightly bitter white skin on if you want to boost the heart-healthy benefits – over 90% of the antioxidants are found there!
Who you will impress: Your Friends
What: Quinoa Quinoa’s superpower: After a competitive game or workout, your muscles are in need of serious replenishment from proteins. Proteins create and repair cells broken down by physical activity.
Proteins are also made of amino acids, a limited number of which the human body can create on its own. We can only get the remaining amino acids from our food. Usually, multiple foods are required to get all the necessary amino acids to make proteins, but not if you eat quinoa.
Quinoa, (pronounced, “keen-wah”), is nature’s most complete protein. Meaning that this high-protein, low-calorie food has all the amino acids men’s bodies need to repair and fortify muscles – without the saturated fat of meat! Quinoa also has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits that could ward off cancer. Easy and flexible to eat, quinoa can make you ready to show off your increased strength and energy to your buddies.
How to save money on quinoa: Cut costs by avoiding packaged quinoa (unless you’re buying pasta made from quinoa). To get more bang for your buck, buy from your grocery store’s bulk dispensers. Red quinoa has a little more antioxidants and can be more expensive. Since the nutrition profile is only slightly different, stick to buying the cheaper, white or mixed varieties.
How to eat quinoa: Quinoa cooks easily and quickly in just minutes. It’s available in pasta or flour versions, as well as its raw form. If using raw, always rinse off quinoa in a mesh sieve prior to cooking (you’ll see some bubbles, that’s perfectly ok). Although it’s really a seed, quinoa tastes like a grain with a texture like larger grits. Try using it as a side dish. Cook and chill it for use in cold salads with onions, parsley, tomatoes, olive oil, spices, or crumbled cheese. Mix cooked quinoa with chopped lean bacon or ground chicken, stuff inside bell peppers and broil in the oven or grill. For a spicy kick, toss with jalapeño, garlic, black beans and charred corn!
Who you will impress: Your Boss
What: Kiwifruits Kiwifruit’s superpower: Chronic lower respiratory diseases like asthma, COPD and chronic bronchitis are really expensive for your employer. Millions of people miss work each year because of one or more of these diseases, absences that cost about $3.8 billion per year!
Struggling to breathe is not only scary and painful for you, but it impacts your productivity at your job. Antioxidants and high vitamin C in kiwis can protect DNA in your lung cells. This eases inflammation from respiratory diseases that cause symptoms like wheezing, coughing, and fluid buildup in the lungs. These nutrients also reduce the potential for cancerous changes to the cells.
Kiwis can also sharpen your brain by regulating your mood and nervous system. Your boss will be super impressed by your attendance and quick thinking from this hairy little fruit!
How to save money on kiwifruits: For Americans, kiwis are quite inexpensive since 98% of all U.S. kiwifruit are grown in California. Stick to purchasing in the winter for even cheaper, in-season kiwifruits.
How to eat kiwifruits: Those with latex allergies should be cautious since kiwis could possibly trigger reactions. Eat kiwifruits plain, dried, as a juice, or sliced on salads, light desserts, or cereals!
Who you will impress: Your Doctor
What: Lamb (grass-fed, free range) Grass-fed lamb’s superpower: Your doctor has probably warned you about the dangers of having a sudden stroke. Strokes are life-threatening, and with the CDC reporting that more than 32% of men over 20 years old have high blood pressure, while over 34 % of men are obese, it’s clear that strokes are threatening to men’s health.
With the bad reputation red meat seems to get these days, you may be surprised to know that nutrients in lamb, a savory red meat popular in the Mediterranean diet can actually help reduce the possibility of a stroke – but only if it’s grass-fed!
Free range (meaning, ‘pasture-grazed’) grass-fed meat is higher in nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins. It is also less fatty than conventionally farmed meats since the animal is able to move freely and graze naturally. This is healthier for the animal instead of being fed scraps in a small, restricted space, meaning it’s healthier meat to consume. The CDC found the average total fat intake for men is 33% – much higher than the 10% recommended by the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines. Just 4 ounces of grass-fed lamb is leaner than beef and has much more vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is vital to preventing homocysteine buildup in the blood, which is a very strong factor in stroke and heart disease. Reducing your risk for the top men’s health killer will definitely make your doctor smile!
How to save money on lamb: Learning to butcher a lamb yourself or befriending a butcher is the cheapest way to enjoy larger cuts you want. If that sounds like too much work, buy from local farmers or look for marked-down price stickers on local grocery shelves and cook immediately. If you’re feeling more adventurous, try an ethnic, kosher, or halal grocer for less expensive, good quality meat.
How to eat grass-fed lamb: For juicy, tender grilled lamb cuts, first marinate at least 1 hour with mint, rosemary, garlic, balsamic vinegar, pomegranate juice or fresh-squeezed orange juice. Roast large portions of lamb (like a shoulder or roast) to an internal temperature of at least 145 °F for medium rare meat. Slow-cook chunks in a hearty stew with folate-rich lentils and red bell peppers to boost the homocysteine-clearing power of B12!
Who you will impress: Your Children
What: Wild sockeye salmon Wild sockeye salmon’s superpower: If you have children, you can probably recall years of joyous moments and milestones. But, what if a disease like Alzheimer’s stole these memories, making you dependent on your kids?
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, someone develops the disease every 66 seconds. Inflammatory conditions like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure increase men’s risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
Foods like oranges and red peppers have multiple antioxidants that fight inflammation, one of which is called astaxanthin. Astaxanthin is a naturally red antioxidant found abundantly in Pacific algae and wild-caught marine animals. However, it’s more difficult for the body to absorb plant-based forms of astaxanthin, and the antioxidant is often expensive in capsule form. That’s why it’s better to eat the biggest predator of astaxanthin-rich algae: wild sockeye salmon.
Yes, salmon is more popular for its omega-3 fatty acid profile, but its astaxanthin levels are higher than in any other animal or plant in the world! With regular astaxanthin (and omega-3) intake from sockeye salmon, your kids will be very impressed by your sharp memory.
How to save money on wild sockeye salmon: Don’t be afraid to try wild sockeye salmon in a can – it’s just as healthy as the fresh filets. It’s not only cheaper, but airtight canning helps protect the nutrients and healthy omega-3 oils from degrading, so it lasts longer. Farm-raised sockeye is cheaper but has much, much less astaxanthin in it. Buy sockeye filets on sale, frozen, or from local farms which source wild-caught fish. You can also invest in an affordable vacuum-sealer to keep all kinds of fresh meats up in the freezer up to a year!
How to eat wild sockeye salmon: Try a salmon salad tossed with light mayo, herbs, celery, and onions and eat on whole-grain bread or salad. Make well-seasoned patties and broil in the oven for a less-expensive twist on crab cakes! Cooking sockeye filet? Grill, oven, or pan-roast with slices of citrus fruits, scallion, chives, paprika, and chili peppers or herbs. Avoid frying to keep the antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids stable and potent.
Who you will impress: Your Mother
What: Dark leafy green veggies (or, “cruciferous” vegetables) Cruciferous vegetables’ superpowers: Now that you’re an adult, your mother doesn’t have to bug you to eat vegetables. Your mother wasn’t kidding when she said they’d make you stronger and healthier, but she didn’t know how amazingly healthy they really are…
Dark leafy greens (known as cruciferous vegetables) are brimming with fiber, minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins that help regulate blood sugar levels. Cruciferous veggies have a very low glycemic index and are extremely light on your blood glucose levels. Eating leafy greens with heavier carbs or fruits slows the digestion and release of the natural sugars in these foods. This helps manage spikes in blood glucose levels which are potentially harmful to your organs if you repeatedly leave it uncontrolled.
Other risks like family history, physical activity, hypertension, obesity, heart disease and more can all influence your type 2 diabetes risk. Whether or not you worry about being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, new incidences of the disease are increasing- especially among men. That’s why men should pay close attention to glucose levels and potential symptoms of prediabetes, your body’s warning signal for developing type 2 diabetes.
How to save money on cruciferous vegetables: Shop for in-season veggies to get the best deal and top quality. Gardeners and farmers can often have a surplus of greens in the fall and winter growing seasons, so look locally or grow your own! Salvage grocers and neighborhood garden co-ops can also offer greens that are just as fresh for less.
How to eat cruciferous vegetables: Many cruciferous veggies (like beet greens, cabbage, arugula, brussel sprouts, radish, watercress, spinach, and kale) can be used together in salads or pasta dishes. Tougher greens like beet, kale, collard, and mustard greens can be simmered with a bit of broth and seasoning. Try them chopped and mixed into quinoa too!
Make veggies tastier by cooking with a pinch of chicken bouillon, black pepper, fresh garlic and red onion. The savory combination will complement the strong taste of leafy green veggies like broccoli, kale, chard, and spinach!
How You Can Start Tackling Your Unique Men’s Health Needs
While all the choices on this list can work wonders if you make them a part of your lifestyle, nothing will happen overnight. The key to better health isn’t just about powerful foods, but consistency.
Developing a routine that incorporates these foods (and more fruits and vegetables in general) can make a huge difference in men’s health. Over time, you’ll start seeing exciting changes in your body, health exams, and how people view you. You’ll also probably live longer. Seeing these results is a great way to become motivated to eat better on a regular basis!
Which delicious healthy food are you ready to try? Have any more ideas or foods you find helpful? Let us know in the comments below how you plan to beat the biggest challenges to men’s health!