Eating Avocado Has A Little-Known Effect On Your Prostate

As men age, they have to pay careful attention to their prostate health. The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that creates fluid for the semen, and it grows larger the older a man gets. Benign prostatic hyperplasia, also called an enlarged prostate, is a common condition where the prostate can become the size of a lemon. At this point, the prostate presses against the urethra, affecting a man's ability to urinate or ejaculate.

A man's risk for prostate cancer also increases with age, and men with an average prostate cancer risk should begin prostate cancer screenings around age 55. Although an enlarged prostate doesn't increase your risk of prostate cancer, one way men can take care of their prostate is through diet. The Urology Care Foundation says that the antioxidants in berries and cruciferous vegetables can help the body fight free radicals that are often linked to cancer and other chronic diseases. A certain compound found in plant-based foods like avocado might also improve prostate-related urinary symptoms.

The healthy cholesterol in avocado

Although red meat, eggs, and butter are well-known for their cholesterol content, plants have their own cholesterol — called phytosterols — that block unhealthy cholesterol absorption. Avocados have on average 76 milligrams of beta-sitosterol, one type of phytosterol, per 100 grams. According to a 2001 analysis in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, avocados are highest in beta-sitosterol compared to 19 other common fruits consumed in the United States.

If beta-sitosterol can lower your cholesterol, how might it help your prostate? You might know beta-sitosterol better as the primary ingredient in saw palmetto, which is often sold as a supplement for prostate health. A 2023 review in the American Journal of Clinical and Experimental Urology found that beta-sitosterol can suppress and kill prostate cancer cells in the lab, but not as effectively as current prostate cancer treatments.

Beta-sitosterol has also been shown in human studies to reduce urinary symptoms of an enlarged prostate. Although beta-sitosterol can't shrink an enlarged prostate, it can block the enzyme that converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). An excess of DHT is associated with an enlarged prostate. Beta-sitosterol's effect on blood cholesterol means there isn't as much cholesterol to be converted to testosterone and subsequently to DHT.

Other sources of beta-sitosterol and prostate-healthy foods

Saw palmetto supplements might be good sources of beta-sitosterol, but you can't be sure how much beta-sitosterol you're getting since supplements aren't regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. You're probably better off getting beta-sitosterol from food, especially since many foods high in this phytosterol are part of a healthy diet.

An ounce of pistachio nuts has almost 60 milligrams of beta-sitosterol. Rather than use butter, which is high in saturated fat, switch to olive oil, which provides 18 milligrams of beta-sitosterol per tablespoon. You can also get beta-sitosterol from something sweet. A bar of dark chocolate offers 107 milligrams.

The Prostate Cancer Foundation suggests other foods to protect the health of your prostate. Include tomatoes in your diet, which are high in the antioxidant lycopene. You'll boost your absorption of lycopene if you cook your tomatoes. The best protein for prostate health is cold-water fish, which can reduce inflammation that's often linked to diseases like cancer. Urology Care Foundation says to avoid red meat and dairy to reduce your risk of prostate cancer or an enlarged prostate.