Eating a nutritious diet that includes some vegetables, legumes, and fatty fish may support prostate health and overall health.
Your diet can significantly affect your health, including that of your prostate.
By adding healthy, prostate-friendly foods to your diet, you may be able to reduce your risk of prostate problems, including prostate cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among males, affecting 1 in 8 males in the United States (
Though the exact role of diet in prostate health isn’t clear, several theories exist. Some experts believe that the high fat, high sugar Western diet may contribute to increased rates of prostate cancer.
Some studies have associated both diets high in dairy products and high total calcium intake through food and supplements to a higher risk of developing prostate cancer. However, more research is needed to confirm this link (
When making dietary changes, you’ll still need to see your healthcare provider for regular prostate cancer screenings, but you can start supporting your prostate health by adding the following 6 foods to your diet.
Certain fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes, contain a powerful antioxidant called lycopene. Some research suggests that a diet high in lycopene may help reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer (
Further research is needed to confirm a benefit, but in a review of 24 studies, researchers suggested that males who ate more tomatoes were less likely to develop prostate cancer (
Lycopene may decrease cell damage and slow cancer cell production. It’s an antioxidant, meaning it protects cells from damage (
Because lycopene is tightly bound to the cell walls of raw tomatoes, your body has trouble extracting it. Cooked or puréed tomato products may be better options, such as the following products:
- tomato paste
- spaghetti sauce
- sun-dried tomatoes
- tomato juice
How to add more tomatoes to your diet
Incorporating more tomato-based recipes into your diet is simple.
There are many nutritious tomato dishes to try. For example, adding some sun-dried or fresh tomatoes to salads, eating your eggs with sliced tomatoes or salsa, and enjoying tomato-based soups are excellent ways to boost your lycopene intake.
In the summer months, you can buy fresh, local tomatoes to add to sandwiches and chop into salads.
Drinking plain tomato juice each morning is another good option. Just make sure to pick a low sodium variety.
Tomatoes contain a powerful antioxidant called lycopene that may reduce prostate cancer risk.
Broccoli is a vegetable that contains many complex compounds that may help protect some people from cancer.
Some studies suggest there’s a link between the amount of cruciferous vegetables you eat — a group that includes broccoli — and a lower prostate cancer risk (
The reasons are still unclear, but researchers propose that some phytochemicals in these vegetables — including sulforaphane, which broccoli sprouts contain concentrated amounts of — selectively target and kill cancer cells while leaving normal prostate cells healthy and unaffected (
Other cruciferous vegetables include cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and kale.
How to add more broccoli to your diet
You can add broccoli to stir-fries, soups, and salads, or simply eat it raw or steamed.
If you worry about fresh vegetables going bad, consider buying frozen broccoli so that you can cook it whenever you have the time.
Broccoli contains sulforaphane and other anticancer compounds that selectively target and kill cancer cells.
People have been using green tea for its health benefits for thousands of years. Researchers have conducted many studies on its effects on cancer.
Evidence suggests that special compounds in green tea may reduce the risk of prostate cancer by influencing tumor growth, cell death, and hormone signaling (
The following compounds could explain the health benefits of green tea (
- xanthine derivatives
- epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG)
How to add more green tea to your diet
If you like the taste of green tea, start by drinking a cup each morning in place of your regular coffee.
If you prefer to skip caffeine, try a decaffeinated version. If you don’t like warm tea, try cooling it in your refrigerator and adding ice for a refreshing beverage.
If you aren’t a fan of the taste, try using cooled green tea as the liquid in homemade smoothies, or adding green tea powder.
Green tea contains a range of compounds, including powerful antioxidants, that could help fight cancer.
Legumes are a food group that includes beans, peanuts, and lentils. Legumes contain biologically active plant compounds known as phytoestrogens.
Isoflavones are one such phytoestrogen. One review found that people who ate the most phytoestrogens had a 20% reduced risk of prostate cancer than the group with the lowest intake (
The cancer-fighting effects of phytoestrogens may come from their antioxidant properties and effects on hormone regulation and cell death.
While there’s still a need for more conclusive research, some research has linked soybean isoflavones with reduced prostate cancer risk (
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) shows a link between the consumption of soy and reduced levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) (
PSA is a protein produced by the prostate. The PSA test, which measures the level of PSA in your blood, is used as a screening test for prostate cancer.
This research also seemed to indicate that soy was more effective when eaten along with other cancer-fighting foods.
How to add more legumes and soybeans to your diet
To add more legumes and soybeans to your diet, consider swapping meat for plant protein in at least some meals. This could mean trying Meatless Mondays or moving toward a plant-based diet.
Try making a black bean burger with lots of veggies. Alternatively, homemade hummus made with blended chickpeas makes a delicious dip for vegetables or whole grain bread.
Finally, tofu is an excellent source of soy. Try flavoring tofu with sauces and baking it or browning it on the stove, or adding it to stir-fries.
Legumes, including soybeans, contain compounds called phytoestrogens, which may help suppress tumor growth.
Like green tea, pomegranates are a rich source of antioxidants.
Pomegranate juice has a reputation as a super fruit due to its high levels of antioxidants. Antioxidants may help prevent chronic diseases related to oxidative stress.
The NCI says that pomegranate juice and some of its bioactive components may help inhibit the proliferation of prostate cancer cells (
Animal and test-tube studies have found that pomegranate juice and extract inhibit the production of some prostate cancer cells, though more research is needed in humans (
How to add more pomegranate juice to your diet
You can buy pomegranate juice at most grocery stores. If drinking the juice plain is too intense, consider diluting it with plain water or adding some sparkling water.
You can also add pomegranate seeds to homemade salad dressing to sweeten up your favorite salad.
Pomegranates are high in antioxidants. Animal and test-tube studies have shown that pomegranate juice could inhibit the production of some prostate cancer cells.
Polyunsaturated fats, including omega-3s and omega-6s, are essential fatty acids found exclusively in the diet. They are not synthesized by the body.
The traditional Western diet has a lot of omega-6 fatty acids but not many omega-3s. Having a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is linked to better health outcomes (18).
Several reviews have reported that while there may be a link between higher omega-3 fat consumption and a lower risk of high-grade prostate cancer and prostate cancer mortality, more research is needed, especially human studies (
Fatty fish have plenty of other health benefits. Try eating fatty fish found in cold waters to increase your omega-3 intake. These include:
How to add more fish to your diet
Adding more omega-3s to your diet can be as easy as cracking open a can of sardines or tuna. Not everyone is so enthusiastic about fish, though. Plus, it can also be expensive.
If you haven’t enjoyed fish in the past, try a different type. Each one has a unique flavor. The flavor is also milder if the fish is fresh, so you may enjoy fish more if you buy it from a fish counter and make it that day.
Cod, flounder, and trout have milder flavors. Try topping your fish with a lemon sauce or adding it to another prostate-friendly food. For example, you could try baked cod in a tomato sauce.
To stretch your dollar, you can also add fish to dishes like pasta, soup, salad, or sandwiches. That way you won’t need as much fish to make a complete meal.
You can also ask your healthcare provider about taking omega-3 supplements.
Fatty fish, such as salmon and mackerel, contain healthful omega-3 fatty acids. These compounds may help keep the prostate healthy, though more studies are needed.
Foods that contain essential compounds may help keep your prostate healthy and reduce your risk of prostate cancer. Still, researchers need to conduct many more studies to know precisely how diet affects prostate health.
It’s a good idea to check in with your healthcare provider before making dietary changes, especially if you’re receiving treatment for prostate cancer. This is because certain foods may interact with different drugs and therapies.
That said, most of the items on this list are nutritious. Eating these foods as part of a healthy lifestyle can help keep your whole body healthy.