A Mediterranean diet is thought to be particularly good for both prostate and heart health. This diet is high in mono and poly unsaturated fats (found in healthy oils), but low in saturated fats (found in animal fat). It allows alcohol in moderation and is high in fiber and low in red meat. “It also allows for a wide range of foods, which means it’s more of a lifestyle rather than just a fad diet,” says Dr. Lynch.
Adopting healthy eating habits now can help prevent prostate problems down the road, since foods can strongly influence sex hormones, including testosterone. Some nutrients and vitamins can have a very positive effect on the health of your prostate. Making sure you’re getting the right nutrients as part of a balanced diet can play an important role in the health of your prostate.
4 Nutrients That Contribute to Prostate Health
Achieving or maintaining a healthy weight is important to your overall well-being and the health of your prostate. Fiber can enhance weight loss since it provides a sense of fullness, delays fat absorption, and prevents constipation. Additionally, a diet rich in natural fiber obtained from fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains such as whole-grain cereals and breads may reduce cancer risk and reduce the risk of prostate cancer progression.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids may reduce your risks for prostate cancer and cancer progression. One study indicated that men who consumed cold-water fish three to four times per week had a reduced risk of prostate cancer. Findings show that omega-3 fatty acids may reduce blood pressure, reduce triglycerides, improve cardiovascular health, and deliver anticancer properties beneficial for prostate health.
Dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids include cold-water fish–such as salmon, trout, herring, and sardines—flaxseeds, walnuts, soybeans, and canola oil.
LycopeneLycopene is a powerful antioxidant known for supporting cancer prevention. While more research is needed on lycopene’s affect on prostate cancer, it’s generally believed to be beneficial. Good sources of lycopene include tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit, apricots, and papaya. In tomatoes, the cooking process releases lycopene from the plant’s cells, increasing your ability to absorb it.
Consuming cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and brussels sprouts that are high in vitamin C may reduce your risk of developing an enlarged prostate. The National Cancer Institute notes that more research is necessary to determine whether or not vitamin C supplements can prevent or fight prostate cancer, but people who eat cruciferous vegetables that are rich in vitamin C tend to have a lower risk of developing prostate cancer.
Sometime, Less Is More
While some foods and dietary supplements have a positive impact on prostate health, others should be taken in moderation, or not at all. Here are a few examples of nutrients where less is more.
Resveratrol is an antioxidant found in red wine, or it's available as a supplement. It’s used for its beneficial effects on cardiovascular disease and lipid profiles and is regarded as a cancer preventative and antioxidant. But, with respect to prostate cancer, a high dose of resveratrol is a double-edged sword. Research indicates that resveratrol can both inhibit and promote the growth of prostate cancer cells, depending on the length of time cells are exposed. For prostate health, low levels of alcohol (a limit of one glass of wine a day) are thought to have some preventive properties.
With vitamin B supplements, including B1, B2, B3 (niacin), B6, B12, and folic acid, experts agree that less is more. Avoid mega-doses as well as multivitamins with a high dose of B vitamins since they could encourage growth of prostate cancer.
A single low-dose multivitamin may have preventive benefits in respect to prostate cancer, but high-dose multivitamins have been shown to be harmful and may even advance prostate cancer. In other words, take your vitamins, but don’t overdo it!
Selenium and Vitamin EIn 2001, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) launched a large-scale study called SELECT (Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial) to follow up on evidence that suggested selenium and vitamin E might reduce the risk of prostate cancer. The trial showed that adding selenium doesn’t reduce the risk of prostate cancer — and it might increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.
In the same trial, healthy men using 400 international units of vitamin E–the standard supplement dose in U.S. capsules–actually showed an increased risk of prostate cancer. Since most men’s vitamins contain both selenium and vitamin E, you may consider taking a women’s vitamin instead.
ZincZinc has been touted as a method to improve the immune system for prostate health. Patients with chronic prostatitis tend to have low levels of zinc within the prostate or seminal fluid. However, dietary supplementation doesn’t result in increased zinc within the prostate. In fact, high doses of supplemental zinc have been found to cause abnormal changes in the immune system resulting in increased urinary tract infections, prostate enlargement, and increased risk of aggressive prostate cancer. Low levels of zinc such as 20 mg per day in a multivitamin is adequate.
The Bottom Line
Adopting a healthy diet and active lifestyle now can go a long way toward the health of your prostate. While more research is needed, eating more vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole grains — while avoiding fattening foods and red meat — is encouraged to help you take advantage of beneficial nutrients and avoid cancer-promoting factors.