You’re not a walking cliché. So despite the trite was men are portrayed on TV, you probably subsist on more than meat, potatoes, and porn. But even guys who eat a well-rounded diet would benefit from adding a few specific foods to their weekly menus.
Here are five foods every guy should be swallowing on the reg—but probably isn’t.
Soy has a bad rap among dudes, thanks mostly to some lazy reporting a few years ago about soy’s potential links to lower testosterone among men. That reporting was based mostly on a case study of one diabetic man who ate massive amounts of industrialized soy protein. Comprehensive follow-up studies found no ties between soy and low T. On the other hand, lots of research has shown leucine, an essential amino acid found in soy, triggers muscle repair and recovery following exercise. Especially if you weight train, incorporating soybeans into your diet is a great way to maximize your workout gains, suggests research from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
For the most part, you can get the healthy stuff your body needs from a lot of different food sources. But research from Penn State University shows that L-ergothioneine—an antioxidant that may play a crucial role in protecting your body from heart disease, cancer, and other killers—is pretty much only found in mushrooms. If you’re not frequently eating cooked mushrooms (your stomach has problems digesting raw mushrooms), you should start.
PRUNES AND RAISINS
Your muscles require potassium for proper maintenance and recovery. (Any sports drink that touts “electrolytes” is mostly referring to potassium and salt.) But only about 5 percent of men swallow enough potassium to meet the American Heart Association and U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s recommended daily values. In fact, some study’s suggests it’s our low levels of potassium—not our love of salt—that could be driving America’s high rates of heart disease. Yes, bananas have lots of potassium. But you’d need to eat 10 to hit your daily target of the mineral. Along with baked potatoes, raisins and prunes are super potassium sources.
Even among healthy men, up to 4 percent of a guy’s sperm are wonky, shows research from the University of California, Berkeley. In this context, wonky means those sperm can cause partner miscarriages or kids born with chromosomal disorders like Down syndrome. But men who eat a lot of folate-rich foods cut down their numbers of abnormal sperm by up to 20 percent, the Cal study finds. Pound for pound, black-eyed peas are one of the best, easiest-to-find sources of folate, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Asparagus is another solid source.
From your nerve and muscle function to your heartbeat and hormone levels, magnesium is one of those utilitarian nutrients that has its hand in dozens of physiological functions. But at least half of all Americans aren’t getting enough of this mineral, according to data from the USDA. Frequent muscle cramps or feelings of fatigue are two signs you might be low on magnesium. Spinach is a super-healthy source of this mineral. So are almonds and cashews.