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When U.S. News & World Report ranked 39 diets for 2023, the fact that the Mediterranean diet came out on top in several categories was no surprise…
Not only was the Mediterranean diet ranked the best diet overall — but it also ranked No. 1 for best diets for bone and joint health, best family-friendly diets, best diets for healthy eating and best plant-based diets. It came in second only to the DASH diet among the best heart-healthy diets.
But that’s only the beginning of the Mediterranean diet’s long list of health benefits which include losing weight and keeping it off, improving healthy aging, gut health and sexual function. In addition, there’s evidence the Mediterranean diet can help reduce the physiological effects of stress.
But men may want to check out what this amazing diet can do about one of the most common and fatal cancers in men…
Prostate cancer protection from colorful plants
Eating the Mediterranean way involves piling your plate high with a rainbow of fruits and vegetables — and for men who want to avoid prostate cancer, that’s exactly what you should be doing…
Researchers at the University of South Australia (UniSA) analyzed the micronutrients found in the blood of prostate cancer patients and compared them with those found in a healthy control group. This revealed that prostate cancer patients had lower levels of lutein, lycopene, alpha-carotene and selenium, as well as higher levels of iron, sulphur and calcium.
Men with low blood levels of lycopene and/or selenium were determined to have an increased risk of prostate cancer and are likely to be more sensitive to the damaging effects of radiation used to treat the disease.
The study showed men who regularly consume colorful fruits and vegetables rich in these micronutrients are less likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer. Also, men who undergo radiation treatment for prostate cancer are more likely to experience faster recovery if they eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables.
Foods rich in lycopene include tomatoes, melons, papayas, grapes, peaches, watermelons and cranberries. Selenium-rich foods include white meat, fish, shellfish eggs, and nuts.
In addition to age, family history and ethnicity, study co-author Dr. Permal Deo says “There is strong evidence that being overweight and tall increases the risk of prostate cancer. Diets high in dairy products and low in vitamin E may also increase the risk but the evidence is less clear.”
“Our recommendation is to adopt a Mediterranean diet enlisting the help of a dietician because people absorb nutrients in different ways, depending on the food, the digestive system, the person’s genotype and, possibly, their microbiome,” he adds.
Getting those Mediterranean micronutrients
The UniSA findings highlight the importance of eating foods high in lycopene and selenium. A Mediterranean diet includes plenty of lycopene-rich tomatoes, which studies show are great cancer fighters.
One study found men who ate a significant amount of tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato juice and pizza had a 35 percent lower risk of developing prostate cancer and a 53 percent reduced risk of getting aggressive prostate cancer.
The lycopene from tomatoes is more easily absorbed when they are cooked, so try to opt for cooked over raw tomatoes whenever possible.
When you follow a Mediterranean diet, you tend to eat a lot of nuts, which are superfoods in terms of the nutrients they contain. Take the walnut, for instance. Walnuts contain more alpha-linolenic acid (the plant form of omega-3s) than any other nut. They are also second only to blackberries in the number of antioxidants they contain. But Brazil nuts are by far the most potent source of selenium.
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Rainbow of fruit and veg the best prevention against prostate cancer — University of South Australia
Mediterranean Diet — U.S. News & World Report
Walnut Nutrition — Jessica Levinson