Sure, this creamy fruit is high in fat, but it’s the good kind. The monounsaturated fat in avocados packs a one-two punch against cholesterol. It can knock down total cholesterol and “bad” cholesterol (LDL), too. The trick is to use a “mono” fat instead of saturated or trans fats. And eat no more than 25%-35% of all your calories from fat. Olive oil and nuts also contain good fats.
The banana is celebrated for its bounty of potassium — and with good reason. Potassium is critical for muscle contractions and bone health. It also helps blood pressure. Getting enough potassium may be as important as eating less sodium when it comes to lowering blood pressure.
Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, a substance that may protect against some cancers. Some research suggests that men who eat tomato sauce regularly are less likely to get prostate cancer, but not all studies support this. Tomatoes have many other plant nutrients, too, that support good health. Adding salsa to a burrito or tomato sauce to pasta is an easy way to make a meal more nutritious.
Slices of this spicy root are often served with sushi or grated into an Asian stir-fry. Health-wise, ginger may help calm inflammation in the body — which can come in handy when you push yourself too hard. Eating ginger regularly may help reduce the pain of exercise-related muscle injuries.
Lean Red Meat
If you’re a steak-and-potatoes guy, you’re in luck. Red meat can be good for you, says Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, a dietitian for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Lean cuts of beef and pork are packed with protein and have only a little more fat than chicken breast. Red meat is also a good source of leucine, an amino acid that helps build muscle.
How do the Pittsburgh Steelers soothe sore muscles? Cherry juice. Bonci says she keeps some in their training room at all times. “The pigment in cherries and cherry juice mimics the effects of some anti-inflammatory medicines,” says Bonci. “And there are no side effects.”
A single ounce of Brazil nuts has seven times the daily value of selenium. This mineral boosts the immune system and helps the thyroid gland.
Shellfish and other types of seafood are rich in zinc, which is critically important for the heart, muscles, and reproductive system. Zinc levels below normal are linked to poor sperm quality and male infertility. Not fond of seafood? Beef, turkey, chicken, nuts, and seeds offer a healthy dose of zinc, too.
Chocolate may improve blood flow if you eat the right kind.The flavanols in dark chocolate may curb levels of bad cholesterol, improve circulation, and keep blood pressure in check. Men with poor blood flow are more likely to have erection problems, so heart-wise foods may protect your sex life, too. But too much chocolate can lead to weight gain. Enjoy 1 ounce a day instead of other sweets.
Milk and Yogurt
The whey in milk and yogurt is another source of leucine, a muscle-building amino acid. Bonci recommends Greek yogurt, with a thick, creamy taste that men may like better. It’s also packed with protein, potassium, and friendly bacteria that keep the gut healthy. “Plus, it requires no preparation whatsoever.”