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Adult Men


During adulthood, the body no longer needs to devote its energy and resources to support the rapid growth and development that characterizes infancy, childhood and adolescence. Nevertheless, good nutrition is still vitally important to promote not only regeneration and repair, but optimal metabolic functioning, and to prevent the development of chronic degenerative disease. Unfortunately, many American men have a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle, which sets the stage for the development of several diseases including heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and cancer. A diet centered around organic vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes (particularly soy products), nuts, seeds, and wild-caught cold-water fish provides all of the necessary nutrients for health and disease prevention.

Physical Factors

Unless care is taken to optimize nutrition and get regular weight-bearing exercise, the aging process involves a gradual loss of muscle mass and subsequent slowing of the metabolism. If, as they grow older, men who had previously participated in organized sports during their teenage and early adult years do not find other ways to maintain a health-promoting level of physical activity, the combination of a slower metabolism and lack of physical activity will eventually lead to weight gain.

Over the last 100 years, the life expectancy of people living in the United States has increased substantially, from 47 years at the beginning of the 20th Century to over 70 years by the end of this century. Unfortunately, this increase in life expectancy has been accompanied by an increase in the incidence of chronic and degenerative diseases including cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, and diabetes. For many people, these diseases begin to develop during adulthood, causing pain, suffering, and a dramatic decrease in quality of life during the later years. Some of the factors leading to chronic disease are not entirely within your control, e.g., genetic susceptibilities; however, your diet and lifestyle choices are the most critical determining factor in whether or not you will develop certain chronic diseases. A susceptibility is not a necessary cause of disease, merely a potential weakness that results in disease when the individual subjects himself to a harmful environment. So, if you haven't already developed good eating habits, started exercising, and quit smoking—now is the time to begin choosing the actions that will support your health and longevity! By taking care of yourself now, you can not only help prevent the diseases listed below, but remain robust and healthy for years to come.

  • Obesity: At least 50% of all Americans are overweight. Carrying around excess body weight has severe health consequences, increasing your risk for heart disease, various types of cancer (including breast cancer) and diabetes.
  • Heart disease: Heart disease is the leading cause of death in adults in the United States today, affecting 60 million Americans. An estimated 1,100,000 new or recurrent heart attacks occur annually, which translates into the grim statistic that every 20 seconds a person in the U.S. has a heart attack, and one-third of these attacks lead to death. As an American male, you have a 50% chance of experiencing a potentially fatal heart attack. This is unacceptable, especially since poor dietary choices are the main underlying cause of atherosclerosis, the build-up of fatty deposits in the walls of the arteries. A diet that contains excessive total fat, saturated fat, refined sugar, and cholesterol and is low in dietary fiber, essential fatty acids, and the B-complex vitamins significantly contributes to one's risk for heart disease.
  • Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: Type 2 diabetes affects over 12 million people and causes more than 140,000 deaths in the United States each year. Type 2 diabetes increases your risk for heart disease, kidney disease, blindness, and amputations. The same diet that is a principal cause of heart disease is the principal cause of type 2 diabetes.
  • Prostate cancer: Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of death due to cancer in men. (Lung cancer is by far the first.) Prostate cancer is a hormone-sensitive cancer that current statistics suggest will affect at least one out of every six men now living in the United States. Each year roughly 200,000 men are diagnosed with this disease in the United States, and more than 30,000 will die from it. Prostate cancer is also, at least in part, caused by inappropriate dietary choices.

Nutrient Needs

Good nutrition plays a fundamental role in preserving overall wellness, maintaining healthy muscle mass and a trim weight, and preventing the diseases associated with aging. The Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) for adult men are listed in the table below. Several key nutrients specific to the needs of men are highlighted. A diet that is based on organic vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes (particularly soy foods), nuts, seeds, and wild-caught cold-water fish provides all of the necessary nutrients for health. Eliminating unhealthy foods (such as highly processed snack foods and desserts that contain hydrogenated fat, sodium, refined sugar and saturated fat) and breaking unhealthy lifestyle habits (such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption) can make a huge positive impact on how you feel.

  • Dietary Fat: All adults should consume no more than 30% of total calories from fat (approximately 60 grams in a 2000 calorie diet) and a maximum of 10% of total calories as saturated fat (about 20 grams). Too much fat in your diet can increase your risk for cancer and heart disease. But, remember that "low-fat" labeling on a product may not always point to your nutritionally best choice. Food products that are advertised as "low-fat" and "fat-free" often contain high amounts of sodium and refined sugar, which are as detrimental to health as fat. Also, remember that some nutrition experts now recommend consuming at least 4 grams of omega-3 fats every day. This may be especially important for men, as high consumption of foods containing omega 3 fats, most notably flax seeds, is believed to protect against prostate cancer.
  • Calories: Each man's calorie needs are different depending on his current body weight (percentage of body fat) and level of physical activity. The bottomline is if you take in more calories than you expend to fuel normal physiological functions and exercise, you will store the excess as fat.
  • Fiber: Increasing fiber in your diet is one of the most important things you can do for your health. A high dietary intake of fiber can lower your cholesterol levels, normalize your blood sugar levels, help you lose weight, and help prevent colon cancer. Nutrition experts recommend a fiber intake of a minimum of 25 grams per day. Many foods contain good amounts of fiber, including dark green leafy vegetables, celery, cauliflower, cabbage, raspberries, all types of beans including black beans and lentils, and brown rice.
  • Zinc: Adequate intake of zinc is essential for male sexual function. Calf's liver, sea vegetables and pumpkin seeds contain significant amounts of zinc.
  • Nutrients for prostate health: Lycopene, selenium, and vitamin E are extremely important for the health of the prostate gland. Lycopene, a carotenoid pigment responsible for giving tomatoes their red color, is a powerful antioxidant compound, and recent research indicates a specific role for this nutrient in the prevention and treatment of prostate cancer. Similarly, research has shown the trace mineral selenium and vitamin E, also antioxidants, are helpful in the prevention of prostate cancer.
  • Heart-healthy nutrients: High dietary intake of folic acid vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 is known to lower blood levels of homocysteine, a by-product of metabolism that can directly damage artery walls, setting the stage for the development of atherosclerosis. A high blood homocysteine level (called hyperhomocysteinemia) is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, and low intake of folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 are key risk factors for hyperhomocysteinemia. . Excellent sources of folic acid include lentils, asparagus, spinach, broccoli, and beets. Excellent sources of B6 include tuna, spinach, cabbage, bell peppers, turnip greens, garlic, and cauliflower. Excellent sources of B12 include sardines, salmon, tuna, cod, lamb, scallops, shrimp, and beef.
  • Antioxidant nutrients: To help prevent heart disease and cancer, focus on obtaining an abundance of the antioxidant nutrients, including vitamin E, vitamin C and the carotenoids, to protect your cells from free radical damage. Food sources of these nutrients include dark green leafy vegetables and a variety of fruits.
  • Isoflavones: These hormone-like compounds are believed to play a role in the prevention of heart disease. In addition, research indicates that genistein and daidzein, the two predominant isoflavones in soy, exert significant protection against prostate cancer.
Nutrient 19-30 31-50 51-70 70+
Vitamin A (mcg RE) 900 900 900 900
Vitamin D (mcg) 5 5 10 15
Vitamin E (mg alpha-TE) 15 15 15 15
Vitamin K (mcg) 120 120 120 120
Thiamin (mg) 1.2 1.2 1.2 1.2
Riboflavin (mg) 1.3 1.3 1.3 1.3
Niacin (mg NE) 16 16 16 16
Pantothenic Acid (mg) 5 5 5 5
Vitamin B6 (mg) 1.3 1.3 1.7 1.7
Folate (mcg) 400 400 400 400
Vitamin B12 (mcg) 2.4 2.4 2.4 2.4
Choline (mg) 550 550 550 550
Biotin (mcg) 30 30 30 30
Vitamin C (mg) 90 90 90 90
Calcium (mg) 1000 1000 1200 1200
Phosphorus (mg) 700 700 700 700
Magnesium (mg) 400 420 420 420
Iron (mg) 8 8 8 8
Zinc (mg) 11 11 11 11
Iodine (mcg) 150 150 150 150
Selenium (mcg) 55 55 55 55
Copper (mcg) 900 900 900 900
Manganese (mg) 2.3 2.3 2.3 2.3
Chromium (mcg) 35 35 30 30

Dietary Choices

Many men recognize the importance of eating right and exercising but often find it difficult to make the time to take care of themselves. Work and family responsibilities take precedence, and many meals are eaten on the run or at fast-food restaurants. In addition to lack of time, many men do not have the information and/or have not developed the skills necessary to select and prepare healthy foods.

The World's Healthiest Foods offers men a means of accessing the information and developing the skills needed to choose and/or prepare food that will enable them to stay healthy, vital and robust throughout their lives. The World's Healthiest Foods provide maximum nutrition for the lowest caloric cost, improving metabolism, energy, and the ability to conserve or even gain muscle, while maintaining a trim waistline. With the personalized information available on the World's Healthiest Foods website (Food Advisor), you can quickly determine which foods will best promote your health. Then take advantage of the exceptional recipes specially developed to fit your needs. All recipes take a half hour or less to prepare, and each provides not only simple instructions, but video clips demonstrating the procedures involved. With the World's Healthiest Foods, even the most inexperienced man can become a competent chef in practically no time at all.


  • Ascherio A, Rimm EB, Giovannucci EL, et al. A prospective study of nutritional factors and hypertension among US men. Circulation 1992 Nov;86(5):1475-84. 1992. PMID:19570.
  • Ballesteros MN, Cabrera RM, Saucedo MS, et al. Dietary fiber and lifestyle influence serum lipids in free living adult men. J Am Coll Nutr 2001 Dec;20(6):649-55. 2001. PMID:19470.
  • Dallongeville J, Marecaux N, Cottel D, et al. Association between nutrition knowledge and nutritional intake in middle-aged men from Northern France. Public Health Nutr 2001 Feb;4(1):27-33. 2001. PMID:19550.
  • Elahi VK, Elahi D, Andres R, et al. A longitudinal study of nutritional intake in men. J Gerontol 1983 Mar;38(2):162-80. 1983. PMID:19590.
  • Hawkes WC, Kelley DS, Taylor PC. The effects of dietary selenium on the immune system in healthy men. Biol Trace Elem Res 2001 Sep;81(3):189-213. 2001. PMID:19480.
  • Hu FB, Rimm EB, Stampfer MJ, et al. Prospective study of major dietary patterns and risk of coronary heart disease in men. Am J Clin Nutr 2000 Oct;72(4):912-21. 2000. PMID:19540.
  • Lovejoy JC, Champagne CM, Smith SR, et al. Relationship of dietary fat and serum cholesterol ester and phospholipid fatty acids to markers of insulin resistance in men and women with a range of glucose tolerance. Metabolism 2001 Jan;50(1):86-92. 2001. PMID:19510.
  • Mahan K, Escott-Stump S. Krause's Food, Nutrition, and Diet Therapy. WB Saunders Company; Philadelphia, 1996. 1996.
  • McCullough ML, Feskanich D, Rimm EB, et al. Adherence to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and risk of major chronic disease in men. Am J Clin Nutr 2000 Nov;72(5):1223-31. 2000. PMID:19530.
  • Michaud DS, Spiegelman D, Clinton SK, et al. Prospective study of dietary supplements, macronutrients, micronutrients, and risk of bladder cancer in US men. Am J Epidemiol 2000 Dec 15;152(12):1145-53. 2000. PMID:19520.
  • Miller WC. Diet composition, energy intake, and nutritional status in relation to obesity in men and women. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1991 Mar;23(3):280-4. 1991. PMID:19580.
  • Nakagawa I, Masana Y. Assessment of nutritional status of men: protein. J Nutr 1967 Oct;93(2):135-41. 1967. PMID:19600.
  • Ubbink JB, Vermaak WJ, van der Merwe A, Becker PJ. Vitamin B-12, vitamin B-6, and folate nutritional status in men with hyperhomocysteinemia. Am J Clin Nutr 1993 Jan;57(1):47-53. 1993. PMID:19560.
  • van Dam RM, Rimm EB, Willett WC, et al. Dietary Patterns and Risk for Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in U.S. Men. Ann Intern Med 2002 Feb 5;136(3):201-9. 2002. PMID:19460.
  • Vessby B, Unsitupa M, Hermansen K, et al. Substituting dietary saturated for monounsaturated fat impairs insulin sensitivity in healthy men and women: The KANWU Study. Diabetologia 2001 Mar;44(3):312-9. 2001. PMID:19500.

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