How well do you know your prostate? More importantly, are you taking good care of it? There is good reason to ask those questions, since prostate cancer can be a serious issue.
The prostate is a gland only found in men. It’s a walnut-sized gland that lies below the urinary bladder and produces fluid that nourishes and transports sperm. It grows rapidly during puberty, fueled by male hormones, such as testosterone. Through adulthood it stays about the same size or grows slowly.
Age is a critical factor when it comes to the prostate. With the passing of years, the prostate can keep growing and begin to press on the urethra, leading to problems urinating and to a condition called benign prostate hyperplasia or BPH. Don’t’ worry. This is not cancer, but it can require medical treatment.
Prostate cancer is another matter. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men, second only to skin cancer. It is the second leading cause of cancer death after lung cancer in men. One in every seven men will be diagnosed with this form of cancer in their lifetimes. Although most cancers of the prostate are slow-growing and often outlive the man, some can be quite serious.
Whether it is BPH or prostate cancer, lifestyle, especially diet and exercise, plays an important role in prevention and treatment. A man can lower his risk for this disease with a few simple changes in what he eats and how much he moves. One of the most important diet habits to adopt is to load every plate with colorful fruits and vegetables, including watermelon.
Maintaining a lean, fit body is important for a healthy prostate, since excess body fat, especially around the middle, even without being overweight can increase prostate cancer risk. Colorful fruits and vegetables are a great way to fill up without filling out because they are low in calories and rich in fiber and water that are satiating. For example, watermelon is 92% water and supplies less than 50 calories in every cup. Snack on that 5-ounce cup of watermelon instead of the same amount of chips while watching the football game and you’ll save more than 760 calories! Combine a diet packed with produce with daily exercise for the one-two punch to weight gain.
Colorful fruits and vegetables do more than help you stay lean. They are some of Mother Nature’s richest sources of antioxidants, which reduce inflammation associated with prostate cancer risk. Watermelon is a source of the antioxidant vitamin C, and contains beta carotene, an antioxidant as well as the building block for vitamin A.
Lycopene is an antioxidant to focus on when it comes to the prostate. Lycopene is in a class of phytonutrients called the carotenoids (beta carotene is in this group). It is one of the most well-studied antioxidants in the fight against prostate cancer. Studies show that people who maintain good blood levels of lycopene are at lower risk for prostate cancer. The red fruits, including watermelon and tomatoes, are the richest sources. Simply taking lycopene supplements does not appear to provide the same protection as eating lycopene-rich foods. You can boost the absorption of this prostate protector by combining it with a little fat. For example,
- Watermelon-Avocado Salsa: Combine watermelon and avocado chunks with lime juice, diced red onion and chilies, and chopped cilantro to use as a topping on salmon or as a dip.
- Watermelon Spinach Salad: Combine watermelon chunks and baby spinach and toss with poppy seed dressing.
- Turkey Watermelon Sandwich: Add a slice of watermelon to a turkey sandwich made with whole wheat bread, turkey, and mayonnaise.
- Pork Watermelon Kebabs: Add watermelon chunks to your favorite Kebabs.
For more information on prostate health:
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