13 Best Summer Superfoods for Men
Tasty summer foods that will help supply the nutrients you need? We got ’em: Here are expert picks specifically for men.
Why men need different nutrients
Men and women don’t always have the same nutrient needs. Men are typically taller and have more muscle than women—so in addition to calories and protein, they also need larger amounts of other nutrients such as magnesium, zinc, vitamin C, vitamin K, and more. But don’t worry! Plenty of superfoods supply necessary nutrients for men. We went to the experts to get a list of top summer superfoods for guys. Here are 7 foods men need more of—and 5 they should avoid.
“This super fruit is available year round but now is at peak season—and there are plenty of reasons why guys should eat more mango,” says Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer, and nutrition partner with the National Mango Board. “Mango is a satisfying sweet treat packed with nutrients, including 100 percent of your vitamin C per cup. It’s also a good source of filling dietary fiber, a nutrient that promotes gut health and [that] most men don’t get enough of.” Add mango to your diet by incorporating the fruit into a smoothie, mango oatmeal, or coleslaw. For more healthy meal inspiration, see the quick, healthy meals that doctors make every day.
“Men have a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer than women,” says Kelli Shallal, MPH, RD, a dietitian in Phoenix, AZ. “Avocados provide a huge dose of fiber! Fiber has been shown to reduce the risk of obesity and colorectal cancer.” These green gems have another benefit, too. “Avocados have been labeled as a ‘happy fruit,’” says Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN, author of 365 Snacks for Every Day of the Year. “They may help boost mood and reduce symptoms of depression.” Include avocado in a healthy avocado smoothie, avocado slaw, or avocado chocolate brownies.
Here’s a green veggie full of nutrients that are beneficial for men. “This leafy green is a powerhouse of nutrients with iron, calcium, vitamin C, and potassium,” says nutrition blogger Janet Brancato, MS, RDN. “It’s great for healthy bones and muscles!” Spinach also offers the mineral magnesium, which along with calcium can help keep bones strong. And it boasts manganese, which can help regulate blood sugar levels. Have spinach in a lupini bean salad, a beef bowl, or a strawberry spinach salad.
“When it comes to summer superfoods, watermelon is a crowd favorite,” says Joan Salge Blake, EdD, a nutrition professor at Boston University and host of the health and wellness podcast SpotOn! “At less than 50 calories for a cup of diced melon, it’s a low-calorie sweet addition to any meal or snack. Watermelon contains the powerful antioxidant lycopene, which can help men reduce their risk of prostate cancer. It is also a potassium powerhouse, an important mineral that can help lower high blood pressure. Many men are falling short of potassium in their diets. Chronically, high blood pressure can increase the risk for stroke, a top leading cause of death among men.” Get your watermelon in a watermelon limeade, tomato watermelon salad, or a watermelon avocado tomato stack. Also, try out 14 summer superfood recipes to beat the heat.
“Research shows that grape polyphenols, naturally found in grapes of all colors, may contribute to heart health,” says Toby Amidor, MS, RD, a dietitian in New York City and a nutrition partner with Grapes from California. “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the United States, causing 1 in 4 male deaths. Grape-enriched diets help promote relaxation of blood vessels to help maintain healthy blood flow. Plus, grapes provide vitamin K and beneficial plant compounds, including antioxidants and other polyphenols.” Enjoy yogurt-dipped frozen grapes, a Greek yogurt parfait with grapes, or a Waldorf salad with grapes and pears.
Herbs can be superfoods, too! Add oregano to your favorite dishes for not only a flavor burst but a health boost, as well. “Oregano is considered a super herb,” says Elena Paravantes, RD, a dietitian in Chicago. “It has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties,” says Paravantes. “It also contains carvacrol, a potent phenol that can potentially help treat cancer. You can add it to your salad dressing or sprinkle it directly over salad, chicken, and fish.” Also add oregano to hummus pizza, Greek tacos, and flatbread bites. Check out these vegetarian meals ready in 30 minutes or less.
Here’s one that can help reduce your risk of prostate cancer: “Fresh tomatoes, cooked in olive oil, make for a man’s perfect summer superfood,” says Rima Kleiner, MS, RDN, a dietitian in Greensboro, NC. “Cooked tomatoes contain very high levels of the carotenoid lycopene, especially important for helping to reduce the risk of prostate cancer.” Cook with a fat, like oil, and that lycopene becomes even more available to your body, says Kleiner. Fresh tomatoes also provide lycopene, so aim to add tomatoes to your day however you can, as both fresh and cooked ingredients. Eat tomatoes in a vegetarian rice bowl, a white bean pizza, or make tomato bruschetta.
Say yes to omega-3s! “Salmon is one of the highest sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential in reducing inflammation, nourishing your brain, and improving heart health,” says Jennifer Hunt, RDN, a dietitian in Greenville, SC. The beneficial omega-3s in salmon are of the DHA and EPA variety, and that means they’re easier for your body to put to use (compared to plant-based omega-3s). You get a vitamin boost from salmon, too. “For men who struggle with low vitamin D, just a four-ounce serving of cooked wild-caught salmon will contribute more than 100 percent of your daily requirement, which is especially helpful for people with limited sun exposure,” says Hunt. Pair salmon with asparagus, make a salmon and quinoa salad, or grill up salmon burgers. Looking for more healthy BBQ ideas? Get 15 grilling recipes under 400 calories.
We can all thank goodness that dark chocolate is a superfood. “Dark chocolate is not only a delicious treat but contains beneficial nutrients like flavanols,” says Angelica Agami, MS, RD, a dietitian in San Clemente, CA. “According to research, flavanols may help lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to the brain and heart.” Unsweetened cocoa powder offers similar benefits, so enjoy it or dark chocolate in a healthy coffee smoothie, dark chocolate bark, or chocolate nice cream.