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How You Can Eat For Prostate Health

A healthy lifestyle is the first line of defense

En español | An estimated one in in six American men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime — a risk that increases with age — making it the second-most common cancer in men after skin cancer. But a growing body of evidence indicates that a healthy diet and exercise can ward off cancer in general and prostate cancer in particular, says nutrition expert Wendy Demark-Wahnefried, Ph.D., Associate Director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

See also: 5 ways to help prevent prostate cancer.

Fresh fruit and vegetables, healthy prostate

Photo by Marc Ohrem-Leclef/Gallery Stock

A diet high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains can ward off prostate cancer.

Demark-Wahnefried says that men concerned about prostate health should follow the general guidance of the American Cancer Society (ACS) for eating to reduce cancer risk:

  • A diet high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains
  • Avoid fats, refined grains and sugars 
  • Maintain a healthy body weight

That last point is key. "Probably the most important thing for men concerned about prostate cancer is weight management," Demark-Wahnefried says. "The data show clearly that overweight men whose body mass index is 30 or above are 34 percent more likely to get aggressive prostate cancer" than men whose BMI is below that range, she says.

Researchers continue to explore whether certain foods and nutrients have an exceptional impact on prostate cancer. Healthy eating pioneer Dr. Dean Ornish says his studies have confirmed that lifestyle changes similar to those he recommends to reverse heart disease — including a vegan diet and regular exercise — have been found to slow the growth of some prostate cancers.

An ACS report on prostate cancer risk factors contains similar findings. "Men who eat a lot of red meat or high-fat dairy products appear to have a slightly higher chance of getting prostate cancer," it notes. "These men also tend to eat fewer fruits and vegetables. Doctors are not sure which of these factors is responsible for raising the risk."

Additional ACS studies are under way to test whether compounds in tomatoes (called lycopenes) and in soybeans (called isoflavones) may help prevent prostate cancer. Other useful foods include pomegranate juice, which may slow the rise of PSA levels (the tumor marker measured in blood tests) in men after prostate cancer surgery or radiation therapy, and flaxseed, which may slow the rate at which prostate cancer cells multiply in men with early prostate cancer.

Demark-Wahnefried led a phase II research study on the effects of ground flaxseed on prostate cancer growth rates that showed promise and resulted in significantly lower tumor proliferation rates. "Am I ready to say, 'All men should take flaxseed?'" she asks. "Not at this point in time — it was one trial. We need more studies."

Certain supplements may also have an effect on prostate health. Too much calcium in a man's diet — more than 1,200 milligrams per day — can increase the risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer, Demark-Wahnefried noted. According to her, men "should rely on food, not supplements, as a source of calcium as much as possible." But she cautioned that men should not cut back too much on calcium, which is essential to maintaining bone health, especially as they age.

"People are always after the magic bullet, taking supplements and thinking they're going to be helped," she says. "It's easy to take a supplement, and it's not so easy to lose weight. But losing weight is important — not only for prostate cancer, but for protection against heart disease and improving overall health."

Broccoli Caesar Salad

  • 2 cups broccoli florets (steamed for 2 minutes)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh garlic
  • 1 lemon (juice)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chilies
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or lemon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon large crusty sea salt
  • 2 tablespoon Parmesan or Romano Cheese
  • 1 tablespoon herb bread crumbs
  • Garnish: shaved parmesan (optional)

1.    Prep all ingredients to above specifications.
2.    Toss in a bowl and serve chilled.
3.    Garnish with shaved parmesan.

Creamy Spinach and Lemon Soup

  • 8 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup egg whites
  • 1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
  • white pepper to taste
  • sea salt to taste

1.    Place broth, rice and lemon zest in a soup pot on a low flame.
2.    Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer and cook until rice is soft (about 25 minutes).
3.    Cool.
4.    In a blender or a food processor, puree soup with lemon juice.
5.    Slowly add in egg whites while blending.
6.    Place back in soup pot. Bring to a simmer and heat.
7.    Add chopped fresh spinach, stir and heat about 3 minutes.
8.    Season with sea salt and white pepper.

Reprinted with permission from the Prostate Cancer Foundation and Chef Beth Ginsberg.

Turkey Cobb Salad

A play on the traditional high-fat Cobb. Use your favorite dressing: Thousand  Island, Ranch or Vinaigrette.

  • 1 pound turkey breast (small dice; you can buy store bought or roast a turkey breast yourself)
  • 2 cups shelled soybeans (blanched)
  • 2  tomatoes (diced)
  • 8  eggs (hard boiled; use whites only and dice)
  • 8 strips vegetarian, turkey or tempeh bacon (cooked crisp and small dice)
  • 2 avocados (diced)
  • 1 head romaine lettuce (washed and chopped) 
  • 1/4 head red cabbage (washed and chopped)

1.    Mix cabbage and romaine together. Set aside in refrigerator.
2.    Prep all ingredients according to above specifications.
3.    Place lettuce mix on plate.
4.    Line each ingredient in vertical lines.
5.    Serve with your favorite low-fat dressing.

Turkey and Chicken Meatloaf

  • cooking spray or 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound ground white meat turkey
  • 1 pound ground white meat chicken
  • 1 onion julienned
  • 2 carrots julienned
  • 1/2 cup egg whites
  • 3/4 cup organic ketchup
  • 1/4 cup tamari soy sauce (low sodium)
  • 1 tablespoon poultry spice
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon granulated onion
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • to taste sea salt
  • to taste ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup organic ketchup or marinara sauce for top of meatloaf

1.    Sauté onions in cooking spray or olive oil cook about 5 minutes or until clear.
2.    Add carrots, sauté 1 minute and remove from heat.
3.    Place all other ingredients in a bowl.
4.    Add onion mixture.
5.    Blend well.
6.    Place mixture in a loaf pan lined with parchment paper.
7.    Top with ketchup.
8.    Score diagonally, crisscross using a paring knife.
9.    Bake at 350 degrees about 1½ hours or until 170 degrees when using a meat thermometer.

Reprinted with permission from the Prostate Cancer Foundation and Chef Beth Ginsberg.

Baby Potato Cakes With Smoked Salmon

  • 5  baking potatoes (peeled and cut lengthwise)
  • 1  onion (peeled)
  • 1 tablespoon organic flour
  • 2  egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • pinch black pepper
  • olive oil or canola cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup fresh chives (snipped)
  • 1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 pound smoked salmon

Work quickly so that peeled potatoes do not turn dark.
1.    Either grate potatoes and onion in a food processor or by hand.
2.    Place in a bowl and add egg whites, flour, baking powder, sea salt and pepper. Mix well.
3.    Spray a griddle or a large sauté pan with cooking spray. (If using a pan, keep the flame low.)
4.    Add mix as you would for pancakes. Make them the size of a silver dollar.
5.    Let the cake become golden on one side and then flip over. Place on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray.
6.    Finish pancakes in a 350 degree oven, cooking about 20 minutes. (These can be frozen, thawed and heated when ready to use.)
7.    Serve with a dapple of nonfat Greek yogurt or soy sour cream, a sprinkle of fresh chives and a strip of smoked salmon.

Raspberry Chocolate Walnut Groovy Blondie

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup organic light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup orange olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 3/4 cup egg substitute
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup raspberries

1.    Sift flour, sugar, baking soda and sea salt.
2.    Add oats to sifted dry ingredients.
3.    Mix olive oil, vanilla and egg substitute and set aside.
4.    Place dry ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer.
5.    Slowly add wet ingredients. Mix on low speed for 2 minutes.
6.    Scrape down sides.
7.    Add chocolate chips, orange zest and walnuts. Mix for 30 seconds.
8.    Fold in raspberries by hand.
9.    Bake at 350 degrees in a 9x9 square pan for 25-30 minutes.
10.  Let cool.
11.  Cut into squares.
12.  Serve with your favorite chocolate sauce or fat-free frozen yogurt, berries and a sprig of fresh mint.

Reprinted with permission from the Prostate Cancer Foundation and Chef Beth Ginsberg.

Also of interest: 10 superfoods for health.