8 Foods That Protect Your Prostate

Preventing or beating this cancer may be a matter of what you put on your plate.

October 5, 2016
walnuts
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Second only to skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among American men, according to Cancer.org, with one in seven men diagnosed with this killer disease in his lifetime.

Fortunately, diet can play a role in protecting against this cancer, so reach for these foods to help protect your prostate: 

Tomatoes
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Tomatoes

Tomato-rich diets have been getting a lot of attention among those working to protect prostate health, and with good reason: Eating 10 portions of tomatoes a week reduces your risk for prostate cancer by 18 percent, according to research from the University of Bristol, United Kingdom.

In the study, this not only included the fruit itself, but also tomato juice and baked beans cooked in a tomato base.

Soy
Soy
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Soy

While soy products are often demonized for lowering testosterone, this has to be balanced against your individual risk for prostate cancer. A study published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer reports that, since testosterone-deprivation therapy is known to inhibit the growth of prostate cells, soy may be something to consider for your diet.

The research looked at men who had undergone radiation therapy for prostate therapy but still saw their prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels rise. Men with prostate cancer have high levels of this enzyme. They found that drinking soymilk helped slow down the increases of PSA.

Green tea
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Green tea

Rich in antioxidant-containing polyphenols, green tea has been shown to be a great cancer fighter. Not only does it help prevent cell oxidation, but it also is able to stop the spread of cancer cells by promoting natural cell death according to research from Case Western University.

They explain that this makes green tea an excellent preventative food, and it also is beneficial for those undergoing treatment for prostate cancer, especially for cancers that are unresponsive to conventional treatments. 

More: How Oolong Tea Can Reboot Your Health

Coffee
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Coffee

Not a fan of tea? A systematic review published in the Annals of Oncology found that intake coffee, another beverage high in antioxidants, was inversely related to fatal forms of prostate cancer.

The review wasn't able to determine whether coffee prevents prostate cancer, but there are plenty of other reasons to have some java, such as its ability to protect against MRSA and its muscle-soothing properties.

Just be sure that you're really drinking brain-healthy coffee and not a brew of weird additives.

Sweet potato greens
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Sweet potato greens

Another food loaded with polyphenols is sweet potato greens. In fact, research published in Carcinogenesis showed that sweet potato green extract has 42 percent more polyphenols than spinach and, like green tea, helps promote healthy cell death of the sort that doesn't occur in cancerous cells.

Sweet potato greens are also rich in vitamin B, beta-carotene, iron, calcium, and zinc. 

More: Leafy Greens: 7 Reasons You Need to Eat More

Cruciferous vegetables
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Cruciferous vegetables

Cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower—these foods are all considered cruciferous veggies, in other words, they're in the cabbage family. Cruciferous vegetables are high in nutrients and phytochemicals with anti-cancer properties. In fact, a recent review of the literature on the effects of cruciferous vegetables and prostate cancer found significant decreases of instances of prostate cancer in experimental groups that had higher intakes of these varieties of vegetables.

This side of Maple-Roasted Brussels Sprouts will please even the pickiest eater.

Fish
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Fish (Sort of)

Omega-3s have been shown to boost brain health, but they also reduce prostate inflammation, according to research from the University of California–San Francisco. In fact, in the study, eating one to three servings per month reduced men's risk by 36 percent, and this held true regardless of genetic predisposition. 

However, this doesn't mean that all fish rich in omega-3s have this effect. Swedish researchers found that salted or smoked fish actually increase a man's risk of developing prostate cancer. However, their study also confirmed that fish oils have a positive effect on prostate health.

More: The Seafood You Should (and Shouldn't) Eat

Walnuts
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Walnuts

An experiment on mice found that a diet rich in either whole walnuts or walnut oil slowed prostate cancer growth. "For years, the United States government has been on a crusade against fat, and I think it's been to our detriment," said University of California Davis scientist and research nutritionist Paul Davis. "Walnuts are a perfect example. While they are high in fat, their fat does not drive prostate cancer growth. In fact, walnuts do just the opposite when fed to mice."

Interestingly while walnuts (like fish) are high in omega-3's, it seems that there are other compounds in walnuts that fight prostate cancer, not just the omega-3s. The researchers point out that the mice were eating a lot of walnuts, but it might be worth the calories. "In our study the mice were eating the equivalent of 2.6 ounces of walnuts," he said. :"You need to realize that 2.6 ounces of walnuts is about 482 calories. That's not insignificant, but it's better than eating a serving of supersized fries, which has 610 calories. In addition to the cancer benefit, we think you also get cardiovascular benefits that other walnut research has demonstrated."

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