How a Mediterranean Diet Can Boost Men's Health

Adopting a Mediterranean diet can help men prevent heart disease, cancer, diabetes, dementia, and other illnesses. 

salad, vegetables, tomatoes, tomato
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Eat Like a Greek to Prevent Disease

Want to live healthier and lower your risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and dementia? Adopting a Mediterranean diet full of whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and unsaturated fats (e.g., olive oil) can help get you there. Even though it's promoted as a diet to prevent heart disease, the Mediterranean menu can help keep your whole body in tip-top shape.

"When you eat a diet that's good for the heart, you're doing your brain, liver, immune system, and every other system the same favor," explains David Katz, MD, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine. 

salmon, fish, fish dinner
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Eat Fish for Your Heart and Prostate

Fish is a great catch in the Mediterranean diet. Eating 6 ounces of salmon or other cold-water fish a week can reduce your risk of dying from heart disease by 36 percent and your risk of dying from any other cause by 17 percent. If that isn't enough motivation, consider this: Some research suggests that men who eat more omega-3s have better-formed sperm than men who eat less. To keep your swimmers in world-class condition, swap out saturated-fat-laden red meat for fish twice a week. Doing so may give your prostate health a boost, as well.

pasta, noodles
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Choose Whole Grains to Prevent Diabetes

Instead of worrying about how many carbs you eat, consider their quality. During the refinement process, up to 90 percent of a grain's micronutrients—and much of its fiber—are lost, says Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, MA, RD, author of The Superfoods Rx Diet. Swapping white bread and rice for fiber- and nutrient-rich whole grains can lower your risk of diabetes by 36 percent. This is important because diabetes can increase your risk for heart disease, impotence, and fertility problems. People who eat complex carbohydrates not only live longer, they're may be able to manage their weight better, too. Switching to whole grains can increase your weight loss by 50 percent.

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Boost Fiber and Protein With Beans

They may not seem sexy, but protein- and fiber-loaded beans and other legumes can help build a better body. "Adding beans to your diet could help you lose weight, even without cutting calories," Bazilian says. On average, people who eat beans weigh 6.6 pounds less, yet eat 199 more daily calories than people who don't eat them. Beans can lower your risk of heart disease and cancer, reduce your risk of diabetes, and help you lose belly fat. To avoid flatulence, ease into them slowly and take Beano if needed until your body adjusts.

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Eat Your Greens for a Healthy Prostate

"If you're going to make one change, eat more fruits and vegetables every day," Dr. Katz says. "That's the single most consistent finding for better overall health." Be sure to eat plenty of greens every day, including these superstars: broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and bok choy to prevent cancer, as well as kale, collard greens, Swiss chard, and spinach to keep your mind and vision sharp.

walnut, walnuts
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Walnuts for Your Heart and Sex Life

What makes walnuts such a heart-healthy addition to the Mediterranean diet? Eating just one small handful of nuts a day can lower LDL (aka, "bad" cholesterol) by 20 percent, without increasing your waistline. We're also nuts about them because they decrease plaque buildup in the arteries and protect blood vessel function in people with diabetes. Healthy blood vessels are crucial for proper circulation and preventing heart attacks and strokes. Good blood flow also helps in the bedroom. "Walnuts in particular can enhance sexual function," says men's nutrition expert Jim White, RD. In addition, walnuts can lower blood pressure and triglycerides, which in turn helps prevent heart disease.

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