Here’s what most guys buy at the store: beef, chicken, sugary desserts, and alcohol. Really: The research firm Hartman Group studied this recently. Those categories are also among the top sources of calories in the American diet.
Beef and chicken are fine, but you know the effects of excess alcohol and sweets. Carry extra fat and you could end up in the office of a nutritionist or cardiologist.
Why not short-circuit the process and eat the way the experts do? We checked in with six top names in health to find out what foods they always eat and why they eat them.
This go-to shopping list will keep all your systems running at optimum efficiency.
OUR EXPERT PANEL
David Katz, M.D., M.P.H. founding director, Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center
Stephen Kopecky, M.D. cardiologist and professor of medicine, Mayo Clinic
William Yancy, M.D. program director, Duke Diet & Fitness Center
Jim White, R.D. spokesman, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Cara Anselmo, R.D.N. clinical dietitian, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Alicia Anskis, R.D., L.D.N. clinical dietitian, Massachusetts General Hospital
Yes, oysters. These briny bivalves outmatch all other foods when it comes to zinc content. “Zinc plays a role in enzyme activity and protein synthesis and is key for immune health,” says Anskis. Plus, studies suggest a link between zinc deficiency and decreased testosterone. Oysters are also loaded with iron and vitamin B12, both of which support blood circulation and energy metabolism. Try to work oysters into your rotation of two to three servings of seafood a week.
If you can find fresh oysters, shuck ‘em and slurp. Or buy canned, smoked, bacony-tasting oysters (they’re in the tuna aisle). Pop them on crackers and add goat cheese.
Dr. Kopecky came up with this one, and he’s not talking about blue M&Ms. He means produce like blueberries, grapes, eggplant (with the skin), and red cabbage. The pigmentation signals the presence of anthocyanins, a group of antioxidants that battle inflammation. Eat these to lower your risk of inflammation-related illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
In a medium bowl, mash a handful of blueberries with a little salt and chopped basil; add a splash of balsamic. (You can add fresh minced chiles too.) Spoon this slightly sweet sauce on top of broiled salmon or roast chicken.
We’re talking whole eggs, not just whites. Yolks have compounds that keep your eyes, brain, and bones healthy. Research now confirms that they won’t spike your cholesterol, says Anskis. Eggs also have the highest “biological value” of any protein source. Translation: Your body can absorb more of the protein for greater muscle-building benefits.
For a no-heat lunch, try curried egg salad with greens: Mix 8 chopped hard-boiled eggs with 1 Tbsp Greek yogurt, ½ Tbsp curry powder, some chopped parsley, and salt to taste.
“Your primary fat should be olive oil,” Dr. Kopecky says. Researchers credit a potent polyphenol called oleocanthal for fighting everything from Alzheimer’s to some cancers. Consider your supplier too. “I only buy extra virgin olive oil and get it at box stores that have a high turnover,” Dr. Kopecky says. “If it sits for a long time, it loses some of its benefits.”
Extra virgin olive oil is best used for lowertemp cooking. At higher temperatures, beneficial compounds break down and the taste suffers. So use it to saute or as a finisher for soups or salads.
“All whole grains are good, but oats are probably the easiest to add to your diet since they’re not hard to cook,” Anskis says. Two cups of oatmeal has 8 grams of fiber; that’s about half what the average person eats daily. That’s not close to the 38 grams you need to drop your risk of heart disease, stroke, hypertension, and diabetes, so eat fiber from produce too.
You don’t always have to go sweet with oats; their sturdy texture can also support savory flavors. Add salmon and avocado, or mix in mushrooms and greens sauteed in garlic.
Two things in life are guaranteed to break your heart: high school crushes and not eating beans. In a 2014 study, people who ate 2/3 cup a day of legumes, such as peas, beans, and lentils, reduced their LDL (bad) cholesterol by 5 percent. Have a half-cup serving of beans at least three or four times a week. Black, white, red, pinto, navy—your body doesn’t care.
Toss a rinsed can of chickpeas with olive oil, a little garlic powder, smoked paprika, and salt. Roast at 400°F for 30 to 40 minutes, tossing halfway. It’s a crunchy, smoky snack.
For 150 more power-packed breakfasts, fast dinners, and big-batch meals you have to try, check out The Guy Gourmet Cookbook From Men’s Health.)
All nuts contain hearthealthy good fats, but three of our experts singled out walnuts as nutritional champs. They’re packed with omega-3 fatty acids, says White, which may also strengthen your sperm. In a Biology of Reproductionstudy, the swimmers of men who ate about 2/3 cup of walnuts a day showed improved motility, vitality, and shape.
Mellow out their flavor by blending walnuts into a shake, dropping them into a soup, scattering a few atop a salad, or crushing them to use in a breading for fish or chicken.