Prostate Procrastination: 6 Foods to Eat Today
Foods to Boost Prostate Health
Guys, we all know that you put off getting your prostate checked as long as you can, but what about adding some healthy prostate-friendly foods to your diet? Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men worldwide and affects one in six males in the United States. It is believed that the high-fat, high-sugar Western diet may contribute to increased rates of prostate cancer. So while you will have to see a doctor eventually, start by trying these six super foods to help boost your prostate health. No urologist necessary.
Lycopene, a powerful antioxidant found in tomatoes, may be beneficial in the prevention of prostate cancer and reducing tumor growth among men with prostate cancer. In a review of 21 studies, researchers found that men who ate a lot of raw tomato and cooked tomato products were less likely to develop prostate cancer compared with men who rarely ate such foods. Because lycopene is tightly bound to cell walls, our bodies have a difficult time extracting it from raw tomatoes. Therefore, cooked or pureed tomato products such as tomato paste, spaghetti sauce, sun-dried tomatoes, tomato juice and ketchup may be better options.
Several studies have demonstrated a lower chance of developing prostate cancer among men who eat large amounts of broccoli or other cruciferous vegetables. In one Canadian study, investigators found that eating greater amounts of such vegetables, particularly broccoli and cauliflower, was associated with a decreased risk of aggressive prostate cancer. Although the reasons as to why are still unclear, some researchers propose that one of the phytochemicals found in these vegetables, called sulforaphane, selectively targets and kills cancer cells while leaving normal prostate cells healthy and unaffected.
Green tea is a large component of the Asian diet and has been consumed for thousands of years. Whether or not green tea is the reason why prostate cancer rates in Asia are so much lower than in America remains unclear. Yet, the components of green tea such as catechin, EGCG and epicatechin are all being studied for their effects on health. There is now some evidence to support that these polyphenolic compounds found in green tea may prevent the development of prostate cancer.
In the Japan Public Health Center study of 49,920 men, researchers found a 48 percent decreased risk of advanced prostate cancer among men who consumed greater than 5 cups of green tea per day.
Legumes and Soybeans
Legumes such as beans, peanuts and lentils all contain biologically active plant compounds known as phytoestrogens. Isoflavones, a phytoestrogen, may contain cancer-fighting properties, which suppress tumor growth in prostate cancer cells.
Two review papers found a 30 percent reduced risk of developing prostate cancer among men with high soy consumption. In a double-blind randomized control trial among men with prostate cancer, those placed on a high soy diet, versus a diet composed mostly of wheat, showed a 12 percent decrease in prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood levels as compared with a 40 percent increase on the wheat diet. Such decreases in PSA signal that the cancer is not progressing.
Much like red wine or green tea, pomegranate is a rich source of antioxidants and has been touted as a miracle fruit in preventing chronic diseases related to oxidative stress. In a small study of 46 men, investigators found that drinking 8 ounces of pomegranate juice delayed the rise in PSA levels and increased the “doubling time” from 15 months to 54 months. The goal is to keep the "doubling time" as long as possible, indicating a slower tumor growth and cancer progression. Authors propose that the antioxidants, called ellagitannins, that are abundant in pomegranate, may work by a “seek and destroy” method, exclusively targeting the prostate cancer cells and not the healthy cells.
Polyunsaturated fats, like omega-3s and omega-6s, are essential fatty acids found exclusively in the diet and not synthesized by the body. The traditional Western diet has lot of omega-6 fatty acids, but minimal omega-3s. Having a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids may help prevent the development and progression of prostate cancer. In a study of 6,272 Swedish men followed over 30 years, researchers reported that those men who ate no fish were two to three times more likely to develop prostate cancer than men who consumed large amounts of fish in their diet. To increase your omega-3 intake, try eating fatty fish found in cold waters such as salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines or trout.
Consult Your Physician
When making dietary changes, especially if you are receiving treatment for prostate cancer, check with your doctor as some foods may interact with certain drugs and therapies. For more information about prostate cancer prevention, treatment and dietary recommendations consult the American Cancer Society.