If you’ve been eating your spinach to be strong like Popeye, you might be getting an added benefit: Less risk of lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS), such as burning and difficulty urinating, commonly experienced by older men. New research out of Harvard and the New England Research Institutes indicates that men with diets high in vitamin A and carotenoids such as beta-carotene and lycopene cut their risk of LUTS symptoms by 40 to 50 percent. Those with a fairly high intake of iron along with vitamin C also had improved symptoms. Supplements did not have the same effect.
Smokers were the only group to have a negative effect from a diet high in carotenoids and vitamin A. Those who took a vitamin C supplement greater than 250 mg per day also had worse symptoms.
“Carotenoids,” “vitamin A,” and “vitamin C” sound nice, how do they translate to the food on your plate? Let’s back up a moment… Carotenoids are an antioxidant and nutrient in plants. Much research has proven they may lower your risk of chronic disease (cancer, arthritis, heart disease), increase your lifespan, and give your skin a healthy glow.
- Lycopene is one type of carotenoid that gives a red color to foods like tomatoes, strawberries, watermelon and pink grapefruit.
- Beta-carotene is another carotenoid that gives foods their orange color, such as carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin and cantaloupe. However, it’s also high in dark green foods (the orange color makes the green a little darker), such as spinach, collards, broccoli and kale. Our bodies convert beta-carotene into vitamin A.
- Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits (orange, grapefruit), kiwi, strawberry, tomatoes and bell peppers. Combine them with iron by eating them with meats, fortified cereals, and beans.
All of that boils down to yet another reason to eat more deeply colored fruits and vegetables.