The prostate gland helps make semen, the fluid that contains sperm. Problems like an enlarged prostate, prostate cancer and prostatitis, or inflammation of the prostate, are common health problems for men as they grow older.
In recent years, scientific research has looked more closely at the link between diet and problems with the prostate, which is about the size of a walnut. It seems that there may be a link between the foods that a man eats throughout his life and his prostate health.
Research on Prostate Problems and Diet
One way that diet can affect the risk of prostate problems is through obesity. Several studies have shown that being obese increases the risk of prostate cancer and other prostate problems.>
Other studies have shown specific types of food to have an effect on the overall risk for prostate cancer and other problems. For example, some research has shown that men who eat a lot of red meat and fatty dairy products, and not a lot of fruits and vegetables, increase their risk of getting prostate cancer. High calcium intake may also enhance risk, though it’s important to note that calcium has other healthy benefits for the body.
What to Eat and What to Avoid
Eating for a healthy prostate is similar to maintaining a healthy diet overall. The focus should be on a variety of healthy foods, with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean sources of protein.
Some studies have shown that lycopene, a carotenoid found in fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, apricots and watermelon, may help lower the risk of several cancers, including prostate cancer. Lycopene is easiest for the body to process when consumed through processed tomato products like tomato paste and puree.Unsaturated fats, such as those found in fish, nuts, olives and vegetable oils, should be emphasized over red meat. And it may also help to load up on spices that fight inflammation, like ginger, cinnamon and garlic.
SOURCES: U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; Prostate Cancer Foundation; U.S. National Cancer Institute; American Cancer Society.