The highest rates of prostate disease are observed in Western countries such as the USA and United Kingdom, whereas the lowest rates are seen in Asian countries such as Singapore1,2.
When men move from Asian to Western countries, consumption of the typical high-fat Western diet appears to increase their chances of acquiring the symptoms of prostate problems3. Hence, it is worth considering the possibility that diet may have a role in contributing to prostate enlargement.
There is some evidence to support the hypothesis that a diet poor in vegetables and pulses may have an unfavourable effect4.
An American study has shown that men who regularly consume a high intake of vegetables have a reduced risk of BPH5.
This must be an encouragement to eat all the green, leafy vegetables, sweetcorn, yellow and orange-coloured vegetables such as peppers, kiwi fruit and grapes, to get the nutrients present.
Another study showed that eating four or more servings of vegetables daily, reduced the risk of developing an enlarged prostate gland by 32% and eating more fatty foods increased the risk. On the other hand, a diet containing red meat daily increased the risk of BPH - Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia ( or Hypertrophy) by 38%6.
According to the Healthy Eating:Prostate Care Cookbook by Professor Margaret Rayman, Kay Gibbs and Kay Dilley, a diet focussed on vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts and cabbage, as well as kale, kohlrabi, watercress, and radishes, along with leeks, onions and garlic is worthwhile. There appears to be plenty there to spice up your meals.
Eat zinc-rich foods. There is plenty of scientific back-up for the role of zinc to support prostate health. Shellfish, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, pecan nuts, fish and eggs can help you out here. Alcohol interferes with zinc uptake, so keep this to a minimum.
Saturated fats aren’t good for any aspect of health and certainly not for the prostate7, so get your healthy fats from nuts, seeds and fish.
If you want more specific recipes and ideas for delicious and healthful meals for your prostate, The Prostate Care Cookbook is a good read.
- Take zinc, which is excellent for the health of the prostate. Zinc is found in oysters, but you may not realistically want to add these to your regular menu, so check out pumpkin seeds, oats, peas, barley, almonds, buckwheat, brown rice, adzuki beans, eggs, apples and onions as alternative sources.
- Take Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs), which may help reduce inflammation in the prostate. These are found in nuts and seeds, or you can take an Omega 3 supplement daily.
- Pumpkin seeds contain both zinc and EFAs and are therefore a good snack food to munch on.
- Reduce alcohol consumption to reduce inflammatory processes. The more inflammation is present in your body generally, the more likely you are to have inflammation in the prostate. There’s no point having more of a bonfire going than strictly necessary! Alcohol, caffeine, highly processed food (which tends to include junk food), refined sugar and smoking all increase inflammation in your system. Cut them down or out to reduce the pressures on your prostate.
- Being overweight increases the severity of symptoms, so whilst you’re cutting down the alcohol and sugar and fatty junk foods, you’ll be pleased to notice fewer calories going in, which should have a beneficial knock-on effect on your weight.
- Sexual abstinence and withdrawing without orgasm can apparently contribute to BPH and should be avoided – now that’s cheered you up!
1.Zhu Y-P et al. Asian Journal of Andrology 2009; 11: 104-108.
2.Cheng I et al. Cancer Epidemiology 2005; 14: 1692-1696.
3.Tymchuk CN et al. Journal of Urology 2001; 166: 1185-9.
4.Bravi BF et al. Food groups and risk of benign prostatic hypertrophy Urology, 2006, vol. 67, pp. 73—79.
5.Rohrmann S et al. American J Clin Nutr 2007; 85: 523-529.
6.Kristal AR et al. American Journal of Epidemiology 2008; doi: 10. 1093/aje/kwn389.
7.The Prostate Care Cookbook, Professor Margaret Rayman, published by Kyle Cathie.
8.Leake A et al. J Steroid Biochem 1984; 20: 651-5, and Acta Endocrinol 1984; 105: 281-8