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10 foods that every man should eat

13:00 Wed Apr 18 2012
Hugh Wilson
10 foods that every man should eat
Your food doesn't have to look like this to be healthy. (Thinkstock)

We're not talking about the usual fruit and veg: here are 10 different foods that all men should include in their diets.

You know that you should be eating five portions of fruit and veg a day, even if you don't always heed the advice. You probably also know about the health benefits of eating oily fish and avoiding too many sausages.

But while these tips are important, there are plenty of great, healthy foods for men that tend to fall under the radar. Here are some that may surprise you.

1. Cottage cheese
Just had a tough workout? Avoid the temptation to dive into a high sugar snack and go for cottage cheese instead. That's right, we said cottage cheese.

"Cottage cheese is a great source of low-fat, easily digestible protein. It's also rich in calcium, which as well as being needed for healthy bones, might also help with weight loss," says registered nutritionist Dr Carina Norris.

Put aside your prejudice. It's surprisingly tasty — and ridiculously healthy — when spread on a fibre packed oatcake.

2. Liver
If you exercise regularly you need protein and iron. Liver has them both in abundance.

"It's the ultimate source of iron, plus it's leaner than other red meats, and only slightly higher in fat than chicken," says Norris. "It's good for protein too. Pan fry it with some red peppers, and serve with rice."

3. Popcorn
The stuff you get at the cinema that's drenched in butter or caramel is a calorific nightmare. The stuff you make yourself, with a little salt or cayenne pepper, is a great snack.

"Because 'naked' popcorn is mostly air, you can get a huge bowl for only 75 calories," says Norris. "Plus it's a good source of fibre, which also helps fill you up."

4. Mango
Mango is often ignored in the fruit aisle, which is a shame because it's delicious. It also gives you something the average apple can't.

"It's a fantastic source of a plant pigment called beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A — you need this vitamin for healthy skin, and to support your immune system," says Norris. "Dried mango is good for snacking — just ensure you get the kind with no added sugar."

That's particularly good advice for men, who need to get more Vitamin A than women and are often lacking.

5. Peanut butter
Peanut butter is a poor choice in abundance, but a healthy one in moderation, particularly if you want to build muscle.

"It's a good source of protein and heart-healthy unsaturated fats," says Norris. "BUT it can also be high in salt, so check the label. And any fat — unsaturated included — is high in calories, so watch the amount you eat."

6. Oats
Oats are the super-cereal of choice for health-conscious men. They are packed with soluble fibre, which lowers the risk of heart disease. They contain plenty of carbs, too, but the large volume of fibre slows the release of the sugar into the blood stream, which means you won't get blood sugar spikes and troughs. They also pack a decent protein punch.

7. Bananas
It might not be a surprise that bananas are good for you, but just how good for you is less well known. Carina Norris calls them "the ultimate pre-wrapped healthy snack food".

"For a start, banana keeps you fuller for longer than other fruit such as apples, thanks to its higher starch content," she adds. "Plus it's a fantastic source of the mineral potassium, which helps to regulate your body's fluid levels and keep your blood pressure under control."

Men have a greater chance of developing high blood pressure than women.

8. Chillies
Want to lose a bit of weight without giving up your weekly curry? The answer is to eat more fiery dishes, with plenty of chillies and a tomato-based rather than cream-based sauce.

"These hot peppers contain a compound called capsaicin. Research suggests it could provide a small boost to your metabolism, which could help stop the natural slowing of your metabolism when you're cutting down on what you eat to lose weight," says Norris.

9. Walnuts
Men are also more at risk of heart disease than women, which is why we should eat more walnuts.

"All nuts contain a healthy combination of protein, plus unsaturated fats which help lower your level of the 'bad' HDL kind of cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease," says Norris.

"New research suggests that walnuts might be the best nuts for your heart. They contain a more powerful blend of antioxidants, which protect your artery lining from the clogging that contributes to heart attacks."

10. Soy
According to experts soy products help protect against prostate cancer and can help reduce the risk of heart disease. But how do you get soy into your diet?

Soy milk is the obvious one, but it's also in veggie burgers and tofu.

So yes, keep eating your five a day and try to get a couple of portions of fish into your weekly diet, but don't forget that plenty of other foods contribute to a truly healthy, vital man.

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