Some men actually take better care of their cars, sports equipment or computers than they do their health. According to the Centers for Disease Control, a lack of awareness, poor health education and unhealthy work and personal lifestyles have caused a steady deterioration of American men's health.
Men's top health issues include cardiovascular disease, diabetes and prostate cancer. One in three men has some form of cardiovascular issue, according to the American Heart Assn. Strokes target more than 3 million men each year while hypertension is becoming more common in men under 45. A healthy diet, regular physical activity and getting quality sleep are critical to men's self care, and may help prevent heart disease and cancer, the top two killers for men over 35, adds the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (www.eatright.org).
Healthful food ingredients such as antioxidants, probiotics, calcium, fiber, coenzyme Q-10, vitamin K2, D and other vitamins, protein and calcium are a few things food developers can use to boost health and keep men in the game. Younger guys are realizing they should take charge of their health, which creates opportunities for food companies to tap more clean-label and free-from ingredients, while offering more specific health-related/palliative products for older men.
Start the day right
Food processors might find success developing breakfast foods targeting men. One in 10 consumers, or 31 million Americans, don't eat breakfast, according to market research from NPD Group (www.npd.com), and men 18-34 are the greatest breakfast skippers, at 28 percent. "With 31 million people skipping breakfast each day, there's a significant opportunity for food and beverage marketers to reach these consumers," says Dori Hickey, director, product management at NPD. "Marketing messages emphasizing the importance of a morning meal should be age- and gender-specific in order to increase their effectiveness," she says.
"Motivation is the greatest barrier for men when it comes to health, but they'll seek products and services that help them achieve their ideal health," notes health and wellness analyst Marissa Gilbert of Mintel (www.mintel.com). Her research discovered fathers seek out more health information sources than other men.
Gilbert points out when it comes to managing their health, men often rely on exercise, a positive mental attitude and vitamins, minerals or supplements. One of the best choices is vitamin D. Critical to regulating men's calcium metabolism, the sunshine vitamin fortifies many milks and milk drinks, including Bolthouse Plant Protein Milks from Bolthouse Farms (www.bolthouse.com) are rich in vitamin D2 and also contain 10g of pea protein per 8-oz. serving and 50 percent more calcium than dairy milk.
Notable for its antioxidant and cancer-fighting properties, CoQ-10, is essential to living systems. New studies have found it can improve sperm movement in infertile men. Lipid-soluble CoQ-10 can be added to various packaged foods and beverages. It's heat-stable, flavorless and especially beneficial to the heart and for producing energy.
Physicians suggests vitamin K2 for men because of its critical bone health benefits. Research points to K2 (menaquinone) as helpful for bones and heart tissue, preventing inflammation, aiding blood clotting and is more easily absorbed than vitamin K1. Chronic inflammation is the source of many diseases, such as obesity and heart disease. K2 is found in fermented foods like kimchee, pickled vegetables, sauerkraut, natto (a Japanese fermented soy mixture) and supplements.
Protein, fiber…and an occasional chocolate
The Institute of Medicine recommends all men regardless of activity level consume at least 56g of protein each day, and more like 85-90g if they're moderately active. High-quality protein provides amino acids that muscles need to repair and rebuild, allowing them to recover from exercise and get stronger over time. The body also uses protein as a source of energy.
Men like "caveman protein," especially steak, burgers and bacon. But doctors suggest leaner protein choices, without excess fat, and more plant protein to maintain muscle mass. It's especially important after exercise, as it's involved in just about every body function. Low-sodium jerky snacks are good options, especially for athletes. High in protein, jerky unlike other meats, doesn't have to be refrigerated, it's portable, convenient and tasty – and it's surprisingly lean.