Should Men Eat More Plants? A Systematic Review of the Literature on the Effect of Plant-Forward Diets on Men's Health - Beyond the Abstract

In recent years, plant-based and plant-forward diets have increased in popularity among patients and physicians alike for their health benefits, environmental preservation, and emphasis on animal well-being. The protective effects of plant-based diets have been well-documented for chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and dyslipidemia. Our goal was to identify men’s health conditions with the potential for therapeutic benefit from plant-based diets and to uncover the association between plant-based diets and the prevention and treatment of these conditions. The three men’s health conditions we focused on were prostate cancer, erectile dysfunction, and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

Following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses system, we performed a systematic review of the literature on plant-based and plant-forward diets and the prevention treatment of prostate cancer, erectile dysfunction, and benign prostatic hyperplasia. We included studies that used plant-based or plant-forward diets as an intervention. Additionally, we included cohort and cross-sectional studies using food frequency questionnaires or diet classification indices to quantify dietary consumption of plant-based foods. In total, we reviewed 12 prostate cancer articles, 4 BPH articles, 6 erectile dysfunction articles, and 2 articles related to both BPH and erectile dysfunction.

The literature suggests that plant-based and plant-forward diets confer small but tangible benefits for the prevention and management of prostate cancer, erectile dysfunction, and BPH, with the strongest evidence supporting this benefit among patients with prostate cancer. Given the established positive effects of plant-forward diets on overall health parameters, urologists may consider our review as an opportunity to incorporate, or modify, existing diet counseling for their patients who are eager to implement lifestyle changes, particularly as it pertains to BPH, erectile dysfunction, and prostate cancer.

Written by: Nathan Feiertag, MD,1 & Kara L. Watts, MD2

  1. Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY
  2. Department of Urology, Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, NY

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