KITCHEN SHRINK: Manly foods for all ages and stages
Men as a subspecies generally have different moving and non-moving parts than women, along with thought processes and stress coping mechanisms. These need to be fueled by specific nutritional requirements. With Father’s Day around the corner, here’s a primer on the best foods for all dads, whether young and strapping or elderly and spry. And yes, real men do each quiche (made with free-range organic eggs, of course).
Power Tools for 20s and 30s
Young men need to maintain their muscle mass and high-energy levels to keep pace with the stresses of college, launching a career and chasing active toddlers. 20-somethings usually eat on the fly, and typically don’t get enough fruits and veggies (corn chips and ketchup don’t count).
Bananas have a lot of appeal as they are portable and give a quick energy boost, along with a motherlode of potassium and Vitamin B-6 to temper the nerves, reduce heart rate and blood pressure, and amp up the immune system (particularly important when exposed to little human Petri dishes).
Hammer & Chisel for 40s
As men reach their 40s, metabolism decreases, and the body is not as forgiving as decades before when pizza, beer and bratwursts were the default foods causing little or no collateral damage. Consequently, weight gain hits at this stage, along with type 2 diabetes and cardiac risks.
Healthy food choices are key at this juncture, but that doesn’t mean he has to feel deprived. Depending upon activity levels, a man in his 40s should ideally consume between 2,200 and 3,000 calories a day.
Lean poultry (turkey or chicken breast), whole grains (brown rice, whole-wheat breads and pastas), along with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables will provide protein, mineral and vitamin requirements for balance, energy, stamina and weight control.
This is also the age burdened with stressful career and financial demands, along with teenage hormonal insanity in the household, translating to an increased risk of high blood pressure.
Swap out sodium in dishes and replace with savory herbs and spices from parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme to chili, turmeric, cayenne, cinnamon and ginger.
There’s more. Men at this stage should also boost lutein intake, including dark leafy greens, especially kale and spinach, and egg yolks to ward off age-related macular degeneration and cataracts common in later years.
Nuts and Bolts for 50s
As men chug into their 50s, the prostate swells and libido shrinks. For the former, lycopene powerhouses, including tomatoes, watermelon and guava are warriors for helping to put the skids on prostate cancer. This Herculean antioxidant also protects against notorious pancreatic cancer, more common in men than women.
Cooking tomatoes releases even more lycopene than eating them raw, so make a pot of mighty marinara. And since lycopene is also fat-soluble, eat it with some healthy fat, like a drizzle of olive oil or buffalo mozzarella.
As for the latter problem, many choice foods have been found to rev up sex drive, including spinach, tea and mutli-purpose watermelon, a behemoth beauty that not only dials up prostate health, but recent studies have shown it to be Mother Nature’s Viagra packed with citrulline, a phytonutirient that relaxes blood vessels similar to the little blue pill.
Vintage Parts for 60 and olders
Guys over 60 should eat optimally to keep the heart humming, brain cells and joints well-lubed, and the constitution regular. Amp up omega-3 fatty acids. Best sources come from cold-water fish, especially wild caught salmon, herring and sardines along with shellfish and vegetarian sea treasures, such as various seaweeds.
Men at this stage should also fiber up with at least 50 grams a day.
This will not only get the colon to function smoothly, but also lower cholesterol levels, and the risk of developing heart disease and assorted cancers.
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Alpha-Male Banana Salsa
2.5 cups bananas, sliced, ripe yet firm
2 tablespoons amber honey
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
1/2 yellow or orange pepper, diced
Salt and cayenne pepper to taste
Method: In a glass bowl, blend ingredients. Cover and chill. Serve with dad’s favorite chips.