In the Western world, food is a hobby or a leisure pursuit. We dine out with friends, lovers, on our own; we drive through, take out, sit in and cook at home. We eat our emotions; when we are happy, we reach for sweet and salty treats, when we are made we crave crunch and roughness. When we are sad, we cheer ourselves up with a rush of sugar (albeit temporarily). In the East, however, food is seen as a medicine, and rather than overdosing, their diet focuses on using health foods to reward and balance the body. Understanding what food has to offer is the first step towards making smarter food choices.
To celebrate Men’s Health annual “Best Foods for Men,” we have selected our top 3 must have health foods you will always find in our kitchens here at Male Standard HQ. These foods are delicious, affordable, are readily available, and promote wellness, making them the best foods for the every man. Bon appetite!
1. Siracha Hot Sauce
Siracha is not just a food, it’s a lifestyle. This addictive condiment livens up everything from chicken noodle soup to sandwiches. While it tastes amazing, it’s not flavor that puts Siracha on the must have map. Inside hot sauce are Capsaicins, the heat behind peppers (and in this case jalapenos). Capsaicins has a unique effect on the tongue. It releases endorphins — the morphine-like compounds that give you a natural high. You can also mimic this soothing effect by eating peppermint or spearmint, which tricks your body into thinking it has eaten something very cold.
Still not convinced? Hot sauce also boosts your metabolism, which supports weight loss, and acts as a natural appetite suppressant due to its bold flavor. When we try to eat healthy, we usually fail to make long term changes as natural foods do not contain the chemically altered additives processed foods do, and therefore we think they do not taste as satisfying. Salt and MSG, for example, make us taste the rainbow. A simple hot sauce substitution can help you lose those pounds, and quickly, without increasing your risk of heart attack or high blood pressure.
2. Probiotic & Greek Yoghurt
If you are looking to build more muscle, put down the raw eggs, Rambo, and load up on Greek yoghurt. Made from fermented milk, this naturally sweet yoghurt packs upwards of 9g of protein per serving, and as it contains probiotics, also boosts your immune system and digestive track. Probiotics are a type of microorganism similar to the ones found in the human digestive system. These “good bacteria” help reduce harmful bacteria and organisms in the human gut and potentially encourage the response of the immune system when it’s needed.
While you can add fresh fruit and cereal to flavor Greek yogurt, we found this protein booster to be a fantastic addition in the kitchen when used to replace other dairy products, such as milk in smoothies or pancakes. It gives a rich, velvety taste to many recipes, and can also be used in many Mexican dishes instead of sour cream, to further increase your protein. The more you eat, the less likely you are to snack, so even if you are happy with your physique or want to trim down, all men should be getting at least 70-80g of protein.
3. Dark Chocolate
The occasional sweet treat can do you good, especially when that sweet treat is a high cocoa chocolate. We’re talking 70% or higher with no added sugars or milk – a true dark chocolate. This superfood tackles some of the biggest health concerns men face and tastes great making it a double winner! Dark chocolate promotes good heart health. A new study published in the journal Heart found that habitual chocolate eaters had a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and strokes compared to people who didn’t eat chocolate. The study suggests the bioactive plant compounds found in cocoa beans, called polyphenols, may help protect against heart disease.
Dark chocolate is high in many vitamins that men are deficient in, including iron, magnesium, copper, and manganese. It is a powerful antioxidant, which cocoa beans holding one of the highest scores for foods that eliminate toxins from the body. Not to mention it can also reduce or eliminate cholesterol. Dark chocolate improves several important risk factors for disease. It lowers the susceptibility of LDL to oxidative damage while increasing HDL and improving insulin sensitivity. If all of this wasn’t impressive enough it supports skin health and improves mood and brain function. Make sure you eat some today!
If you want to learn more health foods then check out Men’s Health Best Foods for Men compilation; lookout for the new list coming soon in November 2015!