Listen up, guys! Whether you’re a strapping young daddy, a career-driven middle-aged father, or a spry elder papa you’ll need to adjust your dietary requirements to an age appropriate mode so all those moving and non-moving parts stay well-oiled and humming. While most fellows would be quite satisfied scarfing down a mystery meat sandwich, or anything fatty, salty and crunchy washed down with a can of liquid that has the ability to trigger belching, this won’t cut the mustard through the long haul. So here’s a nutritional primer for Father’s Day and beyond to keep you dads healthy, happy (and virile) at all ages.
Screwdrivers and Drills: Twentysomethings are either making babies or chasing after them. These men need to maintain muscle mass and high-energy levels to cope with the stresses of fledgling fatherhood, which includes sleep deprivation. They should also boost bone strength to prevent osteoporosis down the road, and ratchet up sperm count during these peak reproductive years. Lean, dense protein sources build brawn, foods packed with potassium and B vitamins give quick energy spurts with nerves of steel, rich sources of calcium and folate enhance bone and cellular health, high-octane vitamins and minerals (D and zinc) jack-up testosterone levels, while soporific foods let him catch some much needed zzz’s.
Kick off Father’s Day with a stack of banana flaxseed pancakes, and a frothy almond butter smoothie. A mid-day snack of handcrafted guacamole with a pile of blue corn chips, followed by burgers of pasture-raised lamb or grass-fed beef on whole-wheat buns would fill the bill. Of course, wild-caught fatty fish will crank up fertility and family size, while bittersweet brownies with 70% or higher cocoa content makes them all a little more frisky. End the day with a liquid lullaby of chamomile tea and honey. Pleasant dreams.
Circular Saws: Men in their thirties need to shift their focus to magnesium and calorie counting. As a rule of thumb guys should trim 10 calories a day for every year over 30 to balance slower metabolisms. Magnesium-rich foods like nut butters and dark leafy greens are key in bucking up bone health and immunity, along with maintaining steady blood pressure, sugar levels, muscle and nerve function.
Father’s Day offerings for these calorie-conscious fellows include crudités of colors of the rainbow like carrots, broccoli florets, red and yellow peppers, and asparagus spears with hummus or baba ghanoush instead of greasy chips and fatty dips. Do paleo-style turkey burgers with lettuce or kale wraps, and fresh berries smothered in a sassy balsamic glaze for just desserts.
Buffers and Polishers: The 40-year-old metabolism continues to slow, while life’s stresses continue to grow. The once invincible brawny bod is now aging and susceptible to weight gain, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and other hazards. So quadragenarians should continue to consume lean protein sources, and a pile of fresh fruits and vegetables, while reducing sodium for optimum fluid balance, stamina and weight control. These dads need to swap out salt for healthful seasonings like parsley, basil, rosemary, mint, turmeric, cayenne, and ginger.
Ratchets and Grinders: As gents lumber into their sixth decade the prostate starts to swell, while the libido starts to shrink. Mighty lycopene found in tomatoes, watermelon, and guava is the best remedy to salvage the family jewels. To amp up lycopene bioavailability in tomatoes it’s best to cook them, and add a healthy fat like olive or avocado oil.
For reviving sex drive, load up on plant-based aphrodisiacs, including iron-packed spinach, figs, avocados, almonds, and the multi-purpose watermelon with Herculean citruline that mocks properties of the little blue pill.
Replacement Blades and Welders: Men north of 60 should adopt an optimum diet to keep brain cells and joints well-lubed, the ticker thrumming, and the constitution running smoothly, while preserving bone mass. Best picks include choice seafood and fish with a rich store of omega-3 fatty acids, especially wild-caught salmon, herring, sardines, seaweed and other oceanic vegetables, along with high fiber whole-grains, fresh and dried fruits and vegetables, beans, legumes, and heart-healthy walnuts. Sexagenarians should also indulge in lutein-rich leafy greens to ward off cataracts.
Here’s a hearty salad to give dads — both young and young at heart a battery recharging.
Recipe: Mediterranean Alpha-Male Protein Salad
• Ingredients: 14-ounces (2 packages) baby spinach; 1-cup chickpeas, drained; 1/2 red onion, diced; 1/2-teaspoon fresh basil, coarsely chopped; 1-teaspoon honey; 1/4-cup red wine vinegar; 1-teaspoon lemon juice; 1/4-cup walnut, almond or olive oil; 1/4-teaspoon dry mustard powder; 1/4-cup roasted almonds or walnuts, chopped; salt and cayenne pepper to taste
• Method: Add spinach to a large salad bowl. In a saucepan, heat oil on medium. Sauté onion until translucent. Add chickpeas, vinegar, honey, lemon, herbs, spices. Heat until warm. Toss chickpeas with spinach. Sprinkle with nuts. Serve immediately.