Why You Should Eat More Cashews If You Have An Enlarged Prostate

Men have to pay close attention to their prostate health as they get older because the prostate begins a second stage of growth starting at age 25. This may not be a problem for all men — unless the prostate grows large enough that it presses on the urethra, which in turn makes the wall of the bladder thicker. That's when men might feel symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which is also known as an enlarged prostate. Signs of an enlarged prostate include problems emptying the bladder, a weak urine stream, or difficulty urinating.

If you're diagnosed with an enlarged prostate, you can ease some of your urinary symptoms by exercising your pelvic floor muscles and training your bladder to hold your urine. Medications like finasteride block the activity of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which responsible for prostate growth. Plant sterols such as beta-sitosterol have been found to work similarly to drugs like finasteride in the lab, though beta-sitosterol does not itself shrink the prostate. One tasty and hearty source of beta-sitosterol is cashews. 

Cashews are a good source of beta-sitosterol

An ounce of cashews provides 32 milligrams of beta-sitosterol. Eating cashews or taking a beta-sitosterol supplement may also help reduce cholesterol. An enlarged prostate is linked to high cholesterol, according to a 2011 review in Differentiation. Just like the liver, the prostate metabolizes cholesterol, and cholesterol can deposit in the prostate as men age. Men with an enlarged prostate are also more likely to have low HDL cholesterol levels and high triglycerides.

Men with an enlarged prostate can turn to the beta-sitosterol in cashews to ease their lower urinary tract symptoms, according to a 2023 review in the American Journal of Clinical and Experimental Urology. The research indicates that taking 20 milligrams of beta-sitosterol three times a day for six months eased some of the urinary symptoms in male study participants with BPH. Beta-sitosterol can also be found in saw palmetto supplements, which could have upwards of 300 milligrams of the chemical. Studies comparing the effects of saw palmetto extract with the BPH drug Tamsulosin (Flomax) have shown similar relief of BPH symptoms.

Eat these foods for better prostate health

Although cashews are a good source of beta-sitosterol, you'll also find 37 milligrams of this plant sterol in 1 ounce of almonds. Add an ounce of walnuts for an additional 25 milligrams. An avocado has almost half the beta-sitosterol of a saw palmetto supplement at 153 milligrams.

Don't think that you only have to eat foods high in beta-sitosterol to boost your prostate health. A 2013 review in Current Opinion in Urology pulled together research on how different foods affect BPH. High-protein diets (mostly from animal protein) were correlated with an enlarged prostate, so eating more fish and plant-based protein might be a better strategy to improve prostate health. That doesn't mean you should go on a high-carb diet, though. Starches from white bread, pasta, and rice have been shown to increase insulin-like growth factor levels, which is linked to BPH.

You'll also want to eat your vegetables. Men who ate four or more servings of vegetables had a lower risk of BPH. Tomatoes have lycopene that could ease symptoms of BPH and possibly limit the condition's progression. Zinc might also help BPH symptoms by blocking a hormone that increases testosterone — and subsequently DHT. Avoid taking zinc supplements because they can increase your risk of prostate cancer, per a 2022 study in the European Journal of Epidemiology.