Plant Flavenoids and Your Prostate Health. Seriously. –

Plant Flavenoids and Your Prostate Health. Seriously.

4 mins

The male prostate gland, after a certain age, seems to become vulnerable to attack. It shouldn't surprise us that this trouble is mitigated by the plant kingdom's 500 million years worth of phytochemical evolution. Earth's healing flora continue to pay it forward.

Table of Contents

Prostate. There, I said it. Though you may prefer calling it the tubuloalveolar exocrine gland of the male reproductive system. Whatever makes you comfortable. This multi-purpose little gland plays an important role in both the propagation of the species and, later in life, your doctor’s third TESLA Model S®.

Yes, in a man’s Autumn Years, and after a lifetime of service, the prostate gland tends to head south in a jiffy, either enlarging in a benign but irritating way, or gathering cancer cells like a magnet.

Because I am a Word Jerk, I feel I should also point out that the word "prostate" is often confused with the word "prostrate" in the English language. Prostate refers to the gland that is the subject of this ghastly little essay -- while Prostrate means something else altogether.

To prostrate yourself is to physically assume an abject position, as a gesture of respect or reverence.

What this means medically is that—for a gentleman to maintain a healthy prostate—he must once a year become prostrate. In a doctor's office and in the presence of alarming rubber gloves.

If you're still there, thanks for your patience. Now I'll take off my Word Jerk hat and put on my ... my other hat.

1 in 8

The fact is, 1 man in 8 will suffer serious prostate issues in his lifetime1. The in-office “digital check” for structural signs of a troubled prostate is one of the less pleasant indignities of the annual checkup, but the alternative is worse by far. Is there a way to keep the prostate healthy, even as the actuarial tables tempt it to failure?

Uh huh.

Plant matter has been shown in clinical trials2 to have a notable effect on prostate health. What we're talking about here is a plant-based, or even a tactically plant-infused, diet. Yes, you have to eat the plant matter to get this benefit—simply walking through a garden won't do the trick. That we know of anyway. 

prostate illustration

[please enjoy this possibly disturbing but ultimately lighthearted prostate-themed illustration] 

What is it about a plant-based diet that has such a striking effect on this particularly worrisome and statistically bullying gland? The key appears to be the flavenoids that occur naturally in plants.

Don't Bug Me! (Prostate Health and Flavenoids)

Flavenoids are a secondary metabolite in plants; meaning they are not fundamental to a plant being alive, but are central to the plant’s reproductive acumen and ability to ward off insect herbivores. 

In the fossil record there are 145 million year-old leaf imprints that show the effect of having been preyed upon by ancient bugs. So the “herbivore problem” has annoyed plants for quite a little while. Their evolved defenses are today benefitting humans in a big way.

cartoons gamboling about a lushly planted garden

Over the busy eons, plants evolved flavenoids to help beat back these insectoid plant eaters—as well as birds and mammals—by making non-essential parts of the plant more attractively edible, by increasing and calibrating flower coloration in order to attract pollinators (the plant’s insect friends), and by warding off bacteria that lounge around in the dirt waiting for a chance to munch on the roots.

two cartoon figures talking about prostate health

[male boasting can go to ill-advised places]

So flavenoids are designed by nature to foil plant-eaters of all kinds—yet they are recommended to human plant-eaters as part of a prostate-protecting diet.

Ironic? You betcha. How does it ... um ... work?

The French Riviera of Prostate Health Diets

The much-discussed Mediterranean Diet has received a lot of press for its success in supporting personal health in Mediterranean geographies. To put it as unexcitingly as possible.

The diet in that part of the world consists largely of fruits and vegetables, potatoes, whole-grains, beans, nuts, seeds and extra virgin olive oil. Meals revolve around these foods.

Mediterranean with Serbia, Romania, and Macedonia highlighted

What's the magic?


 People in those countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea eat a lot of plants

The phytochemicals in all that fruit-and-veggie-eating offer properties that do a Mediterranean body good.

What's a phytochemical? Technically speaking, a phytochemical is a chemical produced by plants.


It's also worth reiterating that phytochemicals aren't essential nutrients. They don't literally keep a plant alive, but may be considered an indispensable tool in the category of self-protection. So we can call phytochemicals "organic weaponry for the good". Which also sounds fairly cool, too -- an added bonus.

Studies have found that various classes of dietary flavonoids support daily human health across an array of human needs3

Phytochemicals or "Fight-o Chemicals"? Prostate, Meet the Plant Kingdom

This epigenetic effect of flavenoids is significant. 

But you don’t need to pay exorbitant room rates in the South of France to get the benefits of flavenoids. Herbs, fruits and vegetables, green tea, apples, legumes …researchers have discovered around 4000 different flavenoids (and counting) in the "don't mess with me" plant kingdom.

More evidence—if you needed it—that the plant and animal kingdoms are holding hands, and have been forever. Scientifically speaking.

Flavenoids are your cellular bodyguards, peeling damage-causing free radicals off your beleaguered cells and ganging up on toxic metallic ions, both of which are associated with prostate trouble.

Flavenoids have even been shown to support normal cognitive health, and to mitigate the occasionally dour mood 4.

Where to find them, that you may eat them? 10 thingies especially packed with flavenoids (a shortlist) = berries, red cabbage, onions, parsley, tea (green and black), red wine and dark chocolate. Go!

Plants Got Your Prostate (don't panic)

So; FLAVENOIDS! (excuse me)

It might seem counterintuitive — if not downright unnerving— to realize that internal defenses developed by plants to ward off beetles can also help your prostate. But that’s where we are. Don't dwell.

Hey, it’s all about Nature giving us organic pointed sticks for jabbing the bad guys.

So next time you’re enjoying a cup of aromatic green tea, raise your cup in a toast to our patient plant friends.

They've spent 500 million years carefully developing these life-giving edible meds. Never mind the majestic plant kingdom's willingness to apply their highly developed Darwinian wares to our troubled groins. We male humans do ask a lot of our leafy friends, to say the least.

Plants, animals; we’re all in this together. Stop the presses.

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