Masculinity and vegetables

Football, beer and… Brussels sprouts? 

Brussels sprouts are one of two vegetables (asparagus, we’re looking at you) that men are significantly more likely to consume than women, according to a study conducted by the Foodborne Disease Active Surveillance Network.

Stalky, green vegetables aside, the study involving 14,000 participants found that men are more likely than women to eat meat and poultry products (especially duck, veal and ham), certain shellfish including oysters and shrimp and high-risk foods like undercooked beef and runny eggs. Women are more likely to regularly eat fruits and vegetables, particularly carrots, tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and apples. 

Why aren’t more men eating their fruits and vegetables? 

Preliminary research indicates that even when men do not like the taste of meat, are instructed by a doctor to reduce their meat consumption or have difficulty digesting meat, they still struggle to order vegetarian and vegan meals when eating out with male friends. The study concludes that many men desire to reduce their meat consumption but believe they need social permission to do so. 

But let’s not focus on the presence of meat in male diets (at least not right now). Instead, let’s address the absence of fruits and vegetables. 

According to research, men just don’t believe as firmly as women do that consuming fruits and vegetables is important to maintain good health. Findings suggest that women report more favorable attitudes towards fruits and vegetables than men and greater confidence in their ability to eat fruits and vegetables as snacks when tired or around family and friends who are eating junk food. 

The health impact of a low-produce diet

There’s a reason we force children, tears streaming down their faces, to finish their greens before they leave the dinner table. Fruits and vegetables contain essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and more. Regular consumption of produce is associated with reduced risk for several chronic diseases, heart disease, stroke, some cancers, eye disease and more. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 3.9 million deaths could be attributed to inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption in 2017 alone. 

WHO recommends consuming more than 400 grams of fruits and vegetables per day. What exactly does that look like? To put it in perspective, 400 grams is approximately two-and-a-half times the weight of a billiard ball. Half a cup of raw vegetables (excluding leafy vegetables), one cup of raw leafy vegetables, half a cup of cooked vegetables and half a cup of 100% vegetable juice each amount to approximately 80 grams.

“But what about my game-day snacks?” 

You live in the age of buffalo cauliflower wings. Eat a dang vegetable.

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