3 min read
Why men live shorter lives than women, statistically, Part 1: Cardiovascular Health
A quick look at global data from the United Nations is all it takes to realise that in all of the countries in the world where humans tend to live the longest, men generally live around three to six years less than woman do1.
Now there are a vast number of occupational, biological and behavioural factors that separate men and women that might explain this difference in life expectancy.
What interests me most as a dietitian, however, is the consistently observed gender disparity between food choices and diet quality.
The data seems to suggest that modern women in western cultures tend to have healthier diets than men do4.
Guys, I know we can do better.
That’s why in this next three part series, I am going to systematically discuss each of the biggest men’s health concerns and teach you a few key foods or nutrients that will help you take your diet, and your health, to the next level.
First up, Cardiovascular Health & Disease
Cardiovascular disease, which includes heart disease and stroke, is the most common cause of death for men globally5.
There are a number of factors that can increase a person’s risk of developing these conditions, but the two most strongly related with your diet are high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol.
The good news? A change in your diet can actually help with both.
- High blood pressure: High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a common men’s health concern that is frequently caused by high sodium intake from processed or packaged products.
The two most important things you can do to prevent and/or manage high blood pressure from a dietary perspective is to reduce your sodium intake and increase your potassium intake6.
Examples of high potassium foods include onions, carrots, swiss chard, sweet potato, avocado, banana, nectarine, oatmeal pumpkin seeds, salmon, trout and many more!
- High blood cholesterol: Elevated blood levels of LDL or “bad” cholesterol are a well-known risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
There are a number of dietary tools that men have at their disposal to fight back at LDL cholesterol, but perhaps the most important is modifying your primary sources of dietary fat.
Multiple studies show that replacing saturated fat (found in foods such as beef and pork fat, butter and processed meats) with either monounsaturated fat (found in foods such as pecans, avocado, almonds and olive oil) or omega-3 polyunsaturated fat (found in food such as salmon, sardines, walnuts and flax seed) has a favourable impact on blood cholesterol levels7.