Convenience and healthy foods usually don’t go hand in hand (unless, of course, you’re following the Jenny Craig program!) Generally speaking, foods that are ready to eat right off the supermarket shelf — think greasy potato chips or a sugar-laden box of cookies — typically offer little or no protection from heart disease, diabetes, or obesity. To find healthy foods for men, you need to look beyond the boxes and bags.
The foundation of your diet should be a mix of high-potency vegetables and fruits, healthy fats, and complete protein. With that in mind, we scoured the research to find foods that may not only boost men’s health, but also may support weight loss and muscle growth. So the next time you’re at the grocery store — you’ll want to load up on these 11 foods. If you’re following the Jenny Craig program, you’ll find most of these foods incorporated into your meals.
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The Popeye effect is real: Spinach contains small amounts of a hormone called ecdysterone, which according to research published in the Archives of Toxicology, can help people gain muscle.1 Spinach is also a great food for weight loss. Slimming down while building muscle? This might just be the superfood you’ve been missing from your diet.
Eat it: Spinach is an extremely versatile veggie. Mix it into your next smoothie or top a bed of spinach (cooked in olive oil vs. butter) with lean protein such as chicken or sirloin for a hearty warm low-carb bowl.
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The fruit’s coloring comes primarily from antioxidants called anthocyanins, which have been shown to protect mental health. In one recent review of 12 studies, eight of them found measurable cognitive improvements — especially in regards to memory — among people adding blueberries to their diets.2
Eat it: If you’re following the Jenny Craig program, enjoy one of our savory and sweet breakfasts: Blueberry Pancakes and Sausage. Not only are the pancakes made with juicy blueberries, they’re also topped with them! Or, try having some berries for a refreshing and healthy snack.
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Last year, after compiling the results of 26 studies, researchers concluded that people who added walnuts to their diets could expect to lower their triglycerides, LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol), and apolipoprotein B — a protein associated with cardiovascular disease.3
Eat it: Walnuts are the perfect satisfying midday snack. Just watch the portion size if your goals include weight loss. Another way to incorporate them is to chop the nuts into smaller pieces and sprinkle them on top of a salad for an added (healthy) crunch.
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After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men.4 But you can fight the odds: University of Oxford researchers found that men in the top fifth of fruit consumers were 9% less likely to develop prostate cancer, and after parsing the data, the effect proved most strongly correlated with citrus fruits.5 So you may want to double down on grapefruits, oranges, and lemon juice. Try drizzling that last one over salad.
Eat it: Citrus fruits pair well with breakfast foods. Peel a fresh orange and eat it with a savory omelet.
5. Olive oil
More good prostate news: Swapping out butter for olive oil may decrease your odds of cancer. In a study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, researchers determined that saturated fat (found in foods like butter and full-fat cheese) increased the risk of prostate cancer by 51%, while the monounsaturated fats found in olive oil, on the other hand, presented no increased risk.6-7
Eat it: The next time you’re grilling up some vegetables, add a little olive oil. Just be sure to measure the amount you pour: oils are calorie-dense and can impact your weight loss. If you’re trying to lose weight, focus on adding a teaspoon of olive oil to your daily routine.
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In a study of half a million people, researchers determined that coffee drinkers were less likely than non-drinkers to die from any cause during a 10-year period.8 Among the coffee drinkers, the mortality rate decreased by 8% for those who drank one cup per day. And get this: The results even included decaf coffee, which implies the effect has little to do with caffeine. More likely, it’s the result of naturally occurring antioxidants in beans.
Drink it: Try to limit your coffee intake to morning hours and avoid drinking it four to six hours before bed as the caffeine may affect your sleep quality. Skip adding creamers or sweeteners — a splash of nonfat milk is a much better option if you’re focusing on weight loss. If you’re a Jenny Craig member, try adding your Vanilla Cream Shake to iced coffee for 12 grams of added protein and a touch of sweetness.
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Thanks to their omega-3 fatty acids, certain types of fish have been shown to guard your cardiovascular system by lowering blood pressure and triglycerides while smoothing out heartbeat irregularities.9a-b The American Heart Association recommends eating two 3.5-ounce servings of fish per week.10 You’re probably most familiar with salmon as an omega-3 delivery system, and indeed, it’s an excellent source — as are fresh mackerel and tuna. But canned tuna is convenient and ready to serve, which makes it easier for many men to fit into their meals.
Eat it: While fresh tuna is a great source of omega-3s, light canned tuna is a great option: It’s often easier to find, is inexpensive and doesn’t require cooking. If weight loss is your goal, choose tuna packed in water, rather than oil, to avoid added calories. Then, add it to a salad or mix it into pasta for some added protein.
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Years ago, eggs were charged with the crime of spiking cholesterol. Today, for the most part, the charges have been dropped, which means you now have a green light to take advantage of one of the most potent and easily accessible protein sources on the planet. And that’s good for preserving lean body mass: Men over the age of 30 lose an average of 3-5% of their muscle mass each decade.11 By increasing your protein intake, you may be able to slow the deterioration.
Eat it: Start your day with an egg scramble loaded with veggies like spinach, tomatoes and onion.
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The little green trees belong to a family of cruciferous vegetables, which includes cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and other vegetables with high doses of sulfur-rich compounds that may offer natural protection from disease.12 In a large observational study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,13 researchers found that people who ate the most vegetables from this family were 22% less likely to pass away from any disease during the study period. And in a separate study from 2019, researchers found that one weekly serving of broccoli with a high concentration of the disease-fighting compounds altered human gene expression in such a way that could slow the progression of prostate cancer.14 (To get the same effect, you should eat 3-7 weekly servings of standard supermarket broccoli.)
Eat it: Broccoli mixes well into a variety of dishes (think: chicken, pasta and broccoli or a hearty grain and vegetable bowl) or eat it solo as a healthy side dish. Need tips on cooking this cruciferous veggie? Start here: 4 Healthy Ways to Make Broccoli Taste Amazing.
10. Milk and nonfat unsweetened yogurt
Calcium is critical for maintaining bone density, and men need 1,000 milligrams (mg) of the mineral per day — or slightly more for men over 70.15 And no food delivers more calcium than dairy: For every cup of milk or 6-ounce serving of yogurt you consume, you’re getting nearly a third of you day’s intake.
Eat it: The next time you’re enjoying waffles on a Saturday morning, top it with nonfat plain Greek yogurt and some strawberries or blueberries.
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11. Tomato soup
After looking at more than 260,000 men, researchers at the University of Illinois found that guys who reported eating the most cooked tomatoes were 19% less likely to develop prostate cancer, on average.16 And a separate study from the journal Urology found that guys who consumed more soup of any kind had, on average, 26% lower odds of developing an enlarged prostate.17 Combine those two studies and you have a good case for eating tomato soup. (If you’re opting for a canned version, be sure to check the sodium content before you drop it in your cart.)
Eat it: Soup makes for a great appetizer or snack since it’s typically low in calories. Eat it before dinner or savor it alongside your next meal on a cold night.
Looking for more healthy foods for men? Jenny Craig has over 100 delicious, chef-crafted foods you can enjoy while working toward your goals. Our Men’s Meal Plan was created to help fit your needs and help keep you satisfied. Learn more.
Clint Carter is a reporter with more than a decade of experience in health, nutrition, and fitness, and his stories have appeared in Men's Health, Women's Health, Shape, and other fitness-driven magazines. His reporting is driven by the belief that foods are rarely ever "good" or "bad," but rather, their value depends on how they fit into an overall diet. His favorite meals are those consumed at a campsite, and much of his time is spent cycling and hiking around his home in New York's Hudson Valley.
Favorite healthy snack: Sardines and avocado on toast.
Briana is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Personal Trainer for Jenny Craig, based in Carlsbad, California. She is passionate about utilizing food as functional and preventative medicine. Guided by a simplistic and optimistic approach, Briana’s philosophy is to help people improve their health and achieve their goals through the development of sustainable habits to live a healthy life. In her free time, you can find her strength training, indoor cycling, coffee tasting, and at local eateries with her husband and two dogs.
Favorite healthy snack: peanut butter with celery alongside a grapefruit-flavored sparkling water (so refreshing!)
This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles and was written by an experienced health and lifestyle contributor and fact-checked by Briana Rodriquez, RDN, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at Jenny Craig.
Our goal at Jenny Craig is to provide the most up-to-date and objective information on health-related topics, so our readers can make informed decisions based on factual content. All articles undergo an extensive review process, and depending on topic, are reviewed by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) or Nutritionist, to ensure accuracy.
This article contains trusted sources including scientific, peer-reviewed papers. All references are hyperlinked at the end of the article to take readers directly to the source.