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5 foods every man should eat more of: Whole oats

Foods for Men: Page 2

By , Caring.com contributing editor
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oats

2. Whole oats

Oats are an excellent source of manganese and a good source of selenium, tryptophan, phosphorus, vitamin B1 (thiamin), dietary fiber, magnesium, and protein. One cup of cooked oats provides more than 6 grams of protein, more than almost all breakfast grains, particularly those that are corn- or wheat-based.

Harvard researchers who followed 21,376 participants over a period of nearly 20 years in the Physicians' Health Study found that men who had a daily serving of whole-grain cereal had a 29 percent lower risk of heart failure. Oats contain a soluble fiber known as beta-glucan that provides numerous health benefits, from helping reduce fat in the blood to preventing hardening of the arteries that can lead to heart attacks, stroke, or dangerous blood clots. Not only does beta-glucan protect against cardiovascular disease, it also supports the body's immune response by stimulating white blood cell activity. And it stabilizes blood sugar, lowering your risk of type 2 diabetes.

One of the best things about oatmeal is that it's a perfect canvas for pairing with other tasty, healthy ingredients. Walnuts and flaxseed, for example, are even more concentrated in omega-3s than fatty fish; two tablespoons of flaxseed provides 146 percent of the amount recommended for a man's daily diet, while a quarter cup of walnuts provides 95 percent of the daily recommended amount. Almonds and raisins are rich in boron, which enhances testosterone levels in men, helping build muscle and contributing to bone health. Boron has also shown protective effects against prostate cancer. Other good oatmeal toppers include hazelnuts, pecans, and pumpkin seeds; all three contain a plant sterol that's been shown to ease the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia, a common prostate condition in men over 40. If you like your oatmeal sweetened, try raw honey -- it helps lower total cholesterol and is loaded with protective antioxidants.

Quick and healthy tip: Oatmeal isn't the only way to enjoy these healthy whole grains. Add a handful of oats to soups, stews, and chilis -- the fiber will thicken them for a heartier (and healthier) result.

For optimal nutrition, avoid instant and/or flavored oatmeal, which, in addition to being stripped of important nutrients during processing, often contains less-than-healthy additives. Instead, opt for minimally processed or whole oats"”look for the steel-cut (known as Irish or Scottish), thick, or old-fashioned varieties.