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This is part 1 of a 2-part series on gender-specific nutrition. I’ll start with my top 10 super-foods for men. Although we can easily eat the same foods, I thought I’d have fun with this and focus on specific nutrition needs for men and for women.

We’re very different, you know. I’m inspired and enchanted by the differences, even the ones that drive me nuts.

Ladies, do you think the 3 Stooges are funny?

No?

See – that’s a boy thing. A gender trait.

Back in 2005 the president of Harvard University resigned over a comment he made at an academic conference about the innate differences between male and female brains. He suggested that these functional differences might explain why women aren’t equally represented in the math and science fields. I have no desire to expand on this or to share my opinion (well, maybe a little), but as a female science nerd, I agree and I’m not offended by his comments. We’re different – our brains are even architecturally different.

Different doesn’t mean smarter. It just means not the same. There are evolutionary reasons for that. We excel in different ways.

I could write a 5000 word essay on why men and women communicate differently, but please don’t make me take a spatial orientation test. Or quickly process mathematical equations. I love science, but I’d rather read about, think about, write about, or discuss this mass of neural wiring we have in our heads than do math problems under pressure. Just the thought of that makes my neurons smolder.

Seriously.

That whole thing about a train leaving the station at 6 PM going due east at 75 miles an hour and blah, blah, blah – gives me a massive headache. I can smell smoke right now. If you add in another train leaving an hour later going due west at 85 miles an hour, I’ll blow a gasket.

But I digress. Spiraling is in my DNA. Another gender difference.

Bottom line? Men and women have specific traits that have been selected through evolution and specific traits that are developed through cultural and social conditioning. We also have very different biological demands and nutritional needs. Regardless, we’re just plain different in a zillion ways, so we might as well rejoice in that and have fun with it.

Let’s start with food.

Melissa’s top 10 super-foods for men (in no particular order)

1. Hops (see photo above)
As in beer. Researchers at Oregon State University discovered a flavonoid in hops called xanthohumol that appears to reduce inflammation and may inhibit the development of prostate cancer. According to Fred Stevens, professor of Medicinal Chemistry at OSU, xanthohumol is only found in beer that is produced from hops and not in beer made from hop extracts. (Drink alcohol in moderation, there are health risks associated with over-consumption. I have to say this, I’m a woman. You know, that whole nurturing thing.)

2. Bison
Once upon a time, men did the hunting, women the gathering. We evolved with different roles for a variety of reasons. In general, men are more aggressive, bigger, stronger and tend to take greater physical risks. Personally, I’d rather wrestle with a blueberry bush than a 2,000 pound bison, so I’m good with that. Our gender-specific food roles are linked with social and cultural perceptions of masculinity and femininity. No way around it. Men burn meat, women bake pies. By the way, baking a pie (especially a gluten-free pie) takes a greater understanding of chemistry than throwing a steak on the grill. Women rock at science, we just don’t always get credit for it.

As far as  nutritionally dense food and masculinity is concerned, I’m choosing 100% grass-fed, organic and humanely treated bison because of its wonderful amino acid profile (good protein for building muscles to protect the berry pickers), low glycemic index, and high amounts of B vitamins, zinc, and selenium. B vitamins are important for metabolism, zinc plays a role in prostate health and selenium is a powerful antioxidant.

3. Cranberries
Studies show that a mixture of flavonoids in cranberries help inhibit LDL oxidation and may decrease the risk of atherosclerosis. Whole cranberries in food form not only protect the heart, but the liver, kidneys and urinary tract as well. Eat the whole food, rather than relying on supplements or extracts. The synergistic value of the various nutrients working together is what makes up a super-food.

4. Pumpkin seeds
Here’s another food rich in zinc to keep your boy parts healthy. According to the Journal of Fertility and Sterility, zinc concentration in sperm directly relates to its motility in that all-important, nano-yard dash. If you’re looking to reproduce, you want fast, agile swimmers once an egg is launched. And keep in mind, zinc has to be replenished. Men produce about 300 million sperm per day. You read that right. PER DAY. Us girls have 1 very special egg per month. I feel like such a princess. Guys – snack on pumpkin seeds. They’re much easier to carry around in your briefcase or backpack than oysters (also high in zinc).

5. Oysters
No explanation needed.

6. Turmeric
Turmeric contains a yellow substance called curcurim, which is the spice that gives curry its name. Rather trendy right now, turmeric shows promise of anti-cancer properties, especially in the gastrointestinal tract. This wonderful spice (I love curry) also helps promote liver detoxification. Check here for one of my recipes for sweet and spicy Moroccan stew. The smell alone is intoxicating.

7. Beets
Beet root contains inorganic nitrate, which researchers have determined, decreases human oxygen requirements during sub-maximal exercise and enhances tolerance to high-intensity exercise. This is a performance-enhancing substance that might turn your pee pink, but you won’t flunk the drug test. Beet root also helps lower blood pressure. This is one of my favorite functional plants. I eat beets in one form or another 4 or 5 times a week.

8. Blackberries
According to scientists at the National Institutes of Health, blackberries have a very high antioxidant capacity. Antioxidants are believed to play a role in neutralizing the effect of free radicals. Free radicals cause cellular damage and contribute to age-related degeneration. Eat blackberries, blueberries and raspberries. That’s much better (and more fun) than taking supplements.

9. Kale
Kale is a wonder plant. It’s over-the-top high in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K and is a good source of fiber, protein, iron and a host of other vitamins and minerals. It’s also highly anti-inflammatory and low in calories. Good stuff. Skip the fat-filled potato chips and opt for kale chips instead.

10. Sardines
Sardines are absolutely packed with vitamin B-12. In fact, there are few more concentrated sources. B-12 helps promote heart health by keeping homocysteine levels in balance. Elevated homocysteine is linked to cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. Sardines are also a rich source of good fats, high-quality protein and vitamin D, a nutrient that is hard to come by and one that promotes bone health.

Next up – food for warrior princesses. Sign up for my email updates so you don’t miss anything.

Peace, love and healthy men!
Melissa

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16 Responses to “(for boys only) nutrition for men”

  1. So my hubby has always said I have more testosterone than most gals so maybe I’ll play with these foods too since I’ll be feeding to the guys. I got my youngest hooked on ostrich so maybe bison won’t be too hard either. Everything else looks great too. So about the hops, is that in gluten free beer too? Love this post as usual. Sending it on to the men I love.

    • Melissa says:

      Diane,

      Thanks! You’re the perfect den mother to a bunch of boys. =) I haven’t had ostrich, but I do like a bison burger every so often. And you know I love beets. I’ll have to include those in my “girls only” post.

      As you can see below, Pete Bronski (brew-master/writer/enduro-guy/gf cook) piped in on the hops and gf beer. Interesting. Thanks for asking. I love learning new stuff, although I’m not a beer drinker. Might have to try this New Planet hoppy ale though.

      =)

  2. Hi Melissa,

    Great post! I’m happy to report I have most of those bases covered. Might I propose you update your post with an alternate list of not-so-super foods for men, and that we men love anyway…such as potato chips (vs kale chips), hot dogs and hamburgers (vs bison), pretzels, french fries, Buffalo chicken wings, pizza, and beer. Oh wait, that last one goes on both lists. Yeah! =)

    Diane – hops are used to brew pretty much all beer you drink, whether gluten-free or “traditional.” In addition to the health benefits Melissa writes about, they impart bittering and preservative qualities to a beer, not to mention fruit and floral aromas and flavors (depending on the variety of hop). New Planet just came out with a very hoppy ale that’s gluten-free.

    Cheers, Pete

    • Melissa says:

      Pete,

      Thanks! And thanks for responding to Diane with the wealth of beer information. I should have “interviewed” you for the post. I’m pretty clueless when it comes to beer, but I saw that study and had to add hops to my list. =)

      I appreciate your comments. Hope all is well in NY. It’s still snowing out here in the west. We’re supposed to get snow in Denver tomorrow. The skiing is still amazing (although I’m pretty much over it right now).

      My best to you and your girls!

  3. Great post – I love how you can take what could be a very dry subject and not only make it interesting but funny! (Should I have been reading this? I am very much a girl.)

    • Melissa says:

      Carol,
      Thanks for the nice comment. I think science should not only be interesting, but fun as well. Especially when we’re talking about men and women! And being the girlie-girl you are, you’ll appreciate part #2, which will focus on us. Stay tuned. =)
      xo
      P.S. Pass me a cupcake and we’ll talk about men.

  4. Hmmm, hubby doesn’t eat too many of these. Son eats more of them. In fact, he just squeezed some extra bucks out of me the other day by telling me he was in line at the grocery store buying kale and olive oil. He really was buying them at the time, but he knows I’d be less likely to cough up the bucks if he was buying something like gummi bears. ;-) Seriously, he’s eating really well these days and I’m proud of him. Thanks for this post, Melissa. I agree with everyone else … you always convey this essential info in such a fun way! :-)

    xo,
    Shirley

    • Melissa says:

      Shirley,

      It’s awesome when you can get young guys (those 20-something men) to eat green leafy things! You’ve obviously been a good influence. And thanks so much for the kind words. I think it’s important to make dorky science talk fun and humorous.

      Stay tuned for part 2. Nutrition for us girls! I’ll throw in more scientific differences between the sexes. It’s those differences that make life interesting!

      xo

  5. Melissa, this is a brilliant post. I whole-heartedly am a believer in everything you have said here. And I am constantly finding ways to sneak all of these foods into hubby (and the kids) diets. And when we were trying to get pregnant, I cannot tell you how many ways I was trying to find to get Kurt to eat pumpkin seeds. Oh, and you should see the things I sneak into the smoothies around here. Nowadays if they were just handed a pure fruit smoothie with nothing else added in, they would think they hit some kind of dessert jackpot considering the ones that I make are packed with the craziest things (and usually not too much fruit). I am just lucky I have not totally turned them off to them yet. This is a great list with some awesome info, my nutrition guru friend!! xoxox

    • Melissa says:

      Thanks, Kim! You are sooo funny. Love the ninja pumpkin seed story! I’m sure you are a master at feeding all your boys healthy food that also tastes good! By the way, you are my nutrition guru friend as well. =)
      xo

  6. Jessica says:

    You mention above that you enjoy beets in a variety of ways 4-5 times a week. I love beets and get them often at the farmer’s market, but I basically roast and toss in various types of salads. Might you create a post some day (soon) on the variety of ways that you use beets? I’d be very interested in reading and learning.
    Thanks so much!

    • Melissa says:

      Jessica,

      I use beets raw and shredded in salads, blended raw in smoothies, sliced thinly and put on pizzas with the greens as well, roasted and made into soup, shredded and sauteed into a rice bowl. I’ve even made beet ice cream! I love beets.

      =)

  7. Linda says:

    I’m the only female in this house with a husband and three sons, so this is good to know. My husband will love you for the hops one, but the rest not so much. They’re all okay with bison, but they’ve only had it at restaurants. I’ll have to buys some now. Pumpkin seeds we eat in the fall, but kale it one they definitely don’t like.

    Anyway, stopping by from Shirley’s. Thanks for the great information.

  8. Melissa says:

    Linda,

    Thanks for stopping by via Shirley’s blog. I appreciate it. Three sons! Yikes. I have 2 sons (and 2 daughters). I had to throw the hops one in. It just fit too perfectly.

    BTW, you can hide kale in smoothies and they’ll never know. =)

  9. Love this Melissa and will be sharing it as I always write for women! Love that you mention sardines and pumpkin seeds!
    What are your thoughts on gluten-free beer?

    Trudy

    • Melissa says:

      Hi Trudy! I don’t drink beer, so I’m not a good one to ask, but my son drinks Omission beer and says it’s great. He doesn’t have celiac, but does have 2 copies of the gene, so he’s doing low-to-no gluten.
      Melissa

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Disclaimer: All material on this website is provided for informational and educational use only and should not be used for diagnostic purposes. Consult with your physician regarding any health or medical concerns you may have.
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