While we think of the stereotypical “manly man” chowing down on double bacon cheeseburgers and steak, high cholesterol and obesity are becoming less and less appealing making many people question how cool this “man meat” really is. The initial curiosity of eating for strength and vitality has generated a food revolution of men jumping on the bandwagon to reap the numerous benefits from choosing the lighter side versus super sized. As each vitamin, mineral, nutrient, and phytochemical work in harmony on every system in the body, it is clear to see why real men eat their veggies.
REASON #1: No one wants to turn into a Mr. Magoo.
If you remember the old show Mr. Magoo, you probably can appreciate the value in protecting your eyesight. Fortunately, leafy greens such as kale are rich in lutein and zeaxanthins that prevent macular degeneration. Choosing orange colored veggies, such as sweet potatoes and carrots, will allow you to get your fill of vitamin A that is an essential component of our eyes.
REASON #2: Poop like a champion.
With cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and colon cancer becoming increasingly prevalent, men need to take the opportunity to combat these statistics any way they can. Consumption of adequate fiber is essential for gastrointestinal health and can reduce the risk of multiple diseases and cancers. Each day we are naturally exposed to environmental toxins and contaminants in our food that we wouldn’t want sitting in our colon for an extended period of time, so strive to keep things moving! High fiber vegetables, such as artichokes and green peas, can help you reach the recommended 30-35 grams per day for men.
REASON #3: Veggies make you happy.
Emerging research is starting to show a correlation between vitamin D levels and mood. While the exact mechanism is unknown, vitamin D is actively involved in brain activity and neurotransmitter development. Numerous studies have found a link between low vitamin D levels and depression. Look on packaging for mushrooms that have been exposed to UV radiation to get your daily vitamin D.
REASON #4: Save your sex life.
Eat your veggies each day and keep the Viagra away. Many vitamins, minerals, and compounds found in vegetables support a healthy functioning reproductive system. Zinc, found in green beans and asparagus, is involved in production of sperm and testosterone. Beets are also rich in nitrates that become converted to nitric oxide that dilates blood vessels and increases blood flow throughout the body.
Vegan athlete Xavier Clais is a true testament by stating, “I eat a vegan diet that is 70% fruits and vegetables so I can train like a beast! Veggies are nutrient dense fuel for peak performance on and off the track. Plus, the ladies love a guy that eats his veggies.”
If these reasons alone haven’t convinced you yet, ask yourself if you would be filling up your Ferrari with regular gas or give your million-dollar racehorse McDonald’s. You only have one body so why shouldn’t your body deserve only the best fuel to maintain a high performing machine?
Gina Worful, RD