Gender-Based Meal Planning? Why Men and Women Should Eat Differently

by on October 15th, 2010 at 9:00 am

When considering what foods to include (or omit) in your diet, low fat and low sugar aren’t the only thing to consider. Nutritional needs also vary depending on your gender.

With the amount of research and studies available, experts have been able to determine that certain conditions are more prevalent in either men or women. It makes sense then to help our bodies by building up an arsenal of defense in the form of vitamins and minerals that can help ward off disease.

Foods Recommended for Optimal Health in Women:

Papaya for a healthy gallbladder and liver: Scientists from the University of San Francisco, California analyzed the blood of over 13,000 people and found that women who had lower levels of vitamin C were more likely to have gallbladder disease. Papaya packs about twice the vitamin C of an orange, which makes it an amazing tool to prevent gallbladder disease, which afflicts twice as many women as men. Papaya is also great for digestion, which makes it an amazing systemic cleanser, thereby promoting liver health.

Flaxseed to ward off breast cancer: According to a report at last year’s San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, adding flaxseed to the diet of women with breast cancer effectively slowed tumor growth. This is thanks to the estrogen-like compounds called lignans, highly present in flaxseeds. The easiest way to get these beneficial lignans is to stir a few tablespoons of ground flaxseed in your juice or sprinkle it on your morning cereal. And most importantly, consume the seeds — there are no lignans in flaxseed oil.

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Tofu to minimize uncomfortable hot flashes: Isoflavones, the plant chemicals in soybeans, have a structure similar to estrogen, which may minimize menopausal hot flashes. This was verified by recent studies which suggest that 50 to 76 mg of isoflavones a day may offer some relief from hot flashes. One half-cup of tofu contains about 25 to 35 mg of isoflavones.

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Buffalo meat to prevent anemia: Due to menstruation, women tend to be anemic more than men. Among other health risks of anemia, low iron levels in blood generally causes severe fatigue. Buffalo meat is not only a great source of iron, but it is also leaner then most other types of red meat. According to Marty Marchello, Ph.D., at North Dakota State University, “The iron content is about 3 milligrams in a 3 1/2-ounce uncooked portion and that portion contains less than 3 grams of fat.” Buffalo meat can help boost energy and lower weight. And thankfully, you can now pick it up at many supermarkets across the U.S. or even purchase it on the Internet.

Collard greens to support bone integrity: Collard greens aren’t the most popular of greens, but they should be, since they may help fight osteoporosis, which affects many women late in life. Collard greens are high in vitamin K, which is now known to a bone-protective effect as well. According to data from one of the largest studies of women, the Nurses’ Health Study, researchers found that women who ate vitamin K-rich foods (at least 109 micrograms of the vitamin daily) were 30 percent less likely to suffer a hip fracture during ten years of follow-up than women who ate less.

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Foods Recommended for Optimal Health in Men:

Tomato sauce for a healthy prostate: According to a Harvard study, which analyzed the eating habits of more than 47,000 male health professionals, men who eat a lot of tomatoes, tomato sauce, or pizza smothered with the stuff were at a lower risk for developing prostate problems. The carotenoid lycopene, abundant in tomatoes, appeared to be responsible.

Oysters for optimal levels of testosterone: There’s the age-old tale of oysters being an aphrodisiac… and there may be science to back it up! Eating just two to three oysters delivers a man’s daily supply of zinc, a critical mineral when it comes to the healthy functioning of the male reproductive system. In one study, 22 men with low testosterone levels and sperm counts were given zinc every day for 45 to 50 days. Both testosterone levels and sperm counts rose.

Broccoli and cabbage for a healthy bladder: Recently, a Harvard study found that vegetables, like broccoli, may offer protection against bladder cancer, one of the most common cancers in the U.S, and which affects two to three times as many men as women. Researchers analyzed the diets of nearly 50,000 men and discovered that those who ate five servings or more per week of these delicious veggies were half as likely to develop bladder cancer over a ten-year period as men who rarely consumed them.

Peanut butter for heart health: Spreading this unctuous butter on to your morning toast can help your heart stay healthy! Although heart disease is the leading killer in both men and women, men fall victim at an earlier age. Pennsylvania State University researchers compared the cholesterol-lowering effect of the American Heart Association’s Step II Diet with a higher-fat diet based on peanuts. The AHA plan included more carbohydrates; the peanut regimen contained 36 percent fat. The trial lasted 24 days and both diets lowered “bad” LDL cholesterol. But, the peanut diet also caused a drop in blood fats called triglycerides and did not decrease HDL, the “good” cholesterol where the AHA diet raised levels of triglycerides and lowered levels of HDL.

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Watermelon for healthy blood pressure: Until the age of 55, more men are reported to suffer from high blood pressure than women. Luckily, numerous studies have found that food rich in potassium can reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke. The findings are so convincing, that the Food and Drug Administration recently granted food labels permission to bear a health claim about the connection between potassium-rich foods and blood pressure. Watermelon is one of the richest sources of this mineral. There’s more potassium in one large slice than the amount found in a banana or a cup of orange juice.

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Luckily, nowadays, it has become easier to find a wide variety of fruits and vegetables (even the most exotic ones) in our local grocery stores. The same goes for natural remedies, which have become increasingly more popular and readily available to provide extra help when needed.

If you haven’t already done so, start tending to your health in a more natural way. By embracing a holistic lifestyle that ties diet, exercise and natural remedy support, you are bound to promote a more balanced state of wellness for both the body and the mind. With the amount of information and resources available at your fingertips, it’s easier now, than it’s ever been before.

2 Responses to “Gender-Based Meal Planning? Why Men and Women Should Eat Differently”

  1. Brooke

    Oct 28th, 2010

    I love watermelon, who knew that it actually helped regulate blood pressure!!!! Thanks for the great post!

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