Avoiding certain foods, including red and processed meat and those containing lots of simple sugars, may benefit your prostate and overall health.

What’s in your diet may have the power to reduce your risk for prostate cancer. The University of California at San Francisco Medical Center suggests that you may be able to prevent prostate cancer or slow the progression of it by maintaining a diet:

  • low in saturated fat and simple sugars
  • high in fiber
  • high in fruits and vegetables

In addition to eating certain foods, there are some types of foods that you should avoid to keep your prostate healthy. Keep reading to learn more.

Foods to avoid

  • red and processed meat
  • high-fat dairy
  • alcohol
  • saturated fat
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A diet high in meat, particularly if it’s cooked well-done, may be associated with an increased risk of developing prostate cancer. This may be due to heterocyclic amines (HCAs). These are carcinogens found in cooked meat. HCAs have been linked to the development of several cancers.

HCAs are compounds formed during high temperature cooking such as broiling or grilling. The World Health Organization suggests that both red and processed meats may be associated with increased risk of developing prostate cancer. Examples include:

  • beef
  • pork
  • lunch meats
  • hot dogs
  • sausage

Instead of red or processed meats, try these protein sources instead:

  • lean poultry, like skinless turkey or chicken
  • fresh or canned fish, such as tuna, salmon, or sardines
  • beans and legumes, like split peas, chickpeas, lentils, pinto beans, and kidney beans
  • nuts and nut butters

If you’re a fan of cold cut sandwiches, try making a chicken salad sandwich instead. You can also experiment with meat alternatives, like tofu or tempeh, which can be marinated and sautéed to create a flavorful sandwich filling.

You may also experiment with eating meat-free for some meals or days of the week. Here are some ideas to try:

  • Replace the meat in your favorite chili or stew with beans.
  • Grill up fish fillets instead of steaks.
  • Make a black bean burger instead of a hamburger.
  • Dice up tofu and marinate it in your favorite sauce, then stir fry it and mix it with veggies and a side of rice.

Consuming large amounts of dairy products may increase your risk of developing prostate cancer. According to research published in the Journal of Nutrition, drinking whole milk may increase the risk of progression to fatal prostate cancer. Skim and low-fat milks also increase the risk of low-grade stages of the disease. Try to limit dairy consumption. At the very least, stick to fat-free and low-fat varieties, as they can be healthier for your prostate.

Aim to eat less of these foods:

  • whole milk
  • full fat cheeses
  • full fat yogurts
  • full fat butter
  • full fat cream cheese
  • full fat ice cream

Instead, try eating low-fat or nonfat versions of your favorite dairy products. You may also try alternatives to dairy products. For example, you may find the following non-dairy options for milk at your grocery store.

  • flax milk
  • rice milk
  • almond milk
  • hemp milk
  • soy milk
  • coconut milk
  • cashew milk

Each of these non-dairy milks has a unique flavor, so if you aren’t a fan of one type, try another type. Be careful of added sugars to these milks however, as many are sweetened. You can also find non-dairy ice creams that use these milks as a base.

Learn more: Almond milk vs. cow milk vs. soy milk vs. rice milk »

Large amounts of alcohol consumption may put you at higher risk of developing prostate cancer. Researchers, using data from more than 10,000 men participating in the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial, uncovered that heavy alcohol drinkers were twice as likely to be diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer as moderate drinkers. Heavy drinkers are defined as those who consume more than three drinks a day or more than 20 drinks a week.

For men, the recommendation for drinks per days is no more than two.

A single drink is equal to:

  • 12 ounces of regular beer (five percent alcohol)
  • 5 ounces of wine (12 percent alcohol)
  • 1.5 ounces of a hard liquor (40 percent alcohol)

There are many other drinks you can choose instead alcohol. These include:

  • water or sparkling water mixed with fresh fruit juice
  • non-alcoholic beers or wines
  • sparkling juices
  • tea or coffee

You can also try making an alcoholic-free version of your favorite cocktail. For example, if you like mojitos, replace the rum with sparkling water or lemon-lime soda. And if you’re at a bar or restaurant, ask the bartender to put your drink in the glass they’d use for the alcoholic version. Also ask for a lemon or lime wedge, or another garnish so that your drink feels festive.

Saturated fats have been linked to heart disease, but their association with prostate cancer is still a tentative. Some studies have found a link between saturated fat intake and risk for advanced prostate cancer, but not all studies have confirmed these findings. While more studies are needed, reducing your intake of saturated fats may benefit your prostate and your overall health, since it creates more room for fiber and nutrient-dense plants.

Learn more: Good fats, bad fats, and heart disease »

Saturated fats are found in:

  • meat
  • dairy products
  • salad dressings
  • baked goods
  • processed foods

Try replacing some of the saturated fats in your diet with healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in such foods as:

  • fish
  • avocado
  • nuts
  • olive oil
  • seeds

To reduce the saturated fats in your baked goods, try replacing half of the fat with applesauce. For example, if the recipe calls for 1 cup of butter, use half a cup of butter and half a cup of unsweetened applesauce.

You can also spread mashed up avocado on your toast instead of butter, or use it on a sandwich as a substitute for mayonnaise.

Talk to your doctor if you’re concerned about your prostate health. Symptoms of prostate cancer include:

  • having trouble urinating
  • seeing blood in your semen
  • erectile dysfunction
  • bone pain and pelvic pain

Learn more: What are the early symptoms of prostate cancer? »

Changing your diet may help reduce your cancer risk, but it’s a good idea to consult your physician before making any dietary changes or taking supplements. Some foods and supplements may interact with certain drugs and therapies.

Visit Healthline’s Prostate Cancer Topic Center for more information about prostate cancer prevention, prostate cancer treatment, and dietary recommendations.

There are several other lifestyle changes that may help keep your prostate healthy. Try making these changes to your routine:

  • Fill your plate with fruits and vegetables. While you’re at it, choose whole grains or legumes on the side.
  • Steer clear from supplements. There aren’t any studies that prove supplements can help lower your cancer risk. If you do take supplements, discuss them with your doctor first.
  • Move your body most days of the week. Getting in consistent exercise is not only good for your overall health, it may also improve your mood. You don’t need a gym membership either. Try a brisk walk around your neighborhood or go for a short hike. If you haven’t exercised much in the past, your doctor may suggest a good routine you can follow to get started.
  • Keep your body at a healthy weight. Your doctor may even refer you to a dietitian if you need some extra help creating a weight loss plan.
  • Make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your cancer risks and to have a prostate exam. Recommendations for screening vary, but it’s generally a good idea to get checked when you’re in your fifties or if you have an elevated risk of developing cancer.