Medically reviewed on December 19, 2023 by Jillian Foglesong Stabile, MD, FAAFP. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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Maintaining a healthy diet is crucial to supporting your overall health, and it’s even more important if you’re faced with a medical condition that impairs day-to-day comfort. Such is the case with an enlarged prostate, or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
The condition is fairly common in men and can impede urination. According to one study, benign prostatic hyperplasia was prevalent in 50 to 60% of males in their sixties and 80 to 90% of males over the age of 70.
So, what can you do to ease benign prostatic hyperplasia symptoms and increase your quality of life as you age? Eradicating certain types of foods may help to support your prostate health. Let’s dig in.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia comprises a variety of conditions, including bladder outlet obstruction (BOO), lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS), and benign prostatic enlargement (BPE). However, it’s primarily characterized by the growth of a benign (non-cancerous) tumor on the prostate gland, likely linked to hormonal changes in testosterone and estrogen.
But let’s rewind: The primary function of the prostate (a male sex organ) is to produce seminal fluid, which mixes with sperm to create semen. The prostate is located below the bladder, surrounding the urethra—a tube that carries urine from the bladder and out of the body through the penis. A growth on the prostate, accordingly, can pinch the urethra and obstruct the flow of urine.
As such, it’s very common for men and people assigned male at birth (AMAB) with an enlarged prostate to experience :
The growth can also put pressure on the bladder, which can cause :
Treatment is only necessary if symptoms become severe. Fortunately, prostate enlargement does not increase one’s risk of developing prostate cancer. If patients do seek treatment, a healthcare provider may prescribe medication to decrease the size of the prostate and recommend lifestyle changes, such as :
For the latter, we have some foresight. The following list includes foods to avoid with enlarged prostate to ease symptoms and support your overall quality of life.
Studies have found that alcoholic drinks may have an adverse effect on prostate health. For one, alcohol is an inflammatory and diuretic, meaning it increases urination. Thus, consuming large amounts of alcohol can exacerbate symptoms of benign prostate hyperplasia, such as a need to urinate frequently and an inability to maintain a strong stream. It may also increase one’s chance of developing prostate cancer.
To limit your alcohol intake, consider replacing a can of beer with sparkling water, non-caffeinated tea, or non-alcoholic wine.
Alternatively, one research analysis found that those looking to prevent prostate enlargement may actually benefit from drinking more alcohol. In the research, 14 out of 19 studies concluded that men who increase their alcohol intake may also decrease their risk of developing benign prostatic hyperplasia or lower urinary tract symptoms by 35%.[5,6]
In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) permits eight types of artificial sweeteners :
Low-calorie artificial sweeteners can limit the development of certain conditions linked to sugar intake, such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. However, they may also aggravate the bladder, worsening benign prostatic hyperplasia symptoms. Additionally, artificial sweeteners may increase your risk of developing bladder cancer.
The Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial (PCPT), which studied 18,800 patients over the age of 50, identified a strong correlation between a high consumption of fats and red meat or low consumption of proteins and vegetables and an increased risk of benign prostatic hyperplasia. It was also found that eating a diet high in zinc, vitamin D, and lycopene may lower the risk of developing an enlarged prostate.
Additionally, the study attests that a Mediterranean diet filled with vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, and sources of long-chain fats, like fish, can improve benign prostatic hyperplasia symptoms.  Further, the World Health Organization (WHO) suggests that meats like beef, pork, sausage, lunch meats, and hot dogs may increase prostate cancer risk.
Rather than reaching for these red meats, get your daily protein intake with:
Several studies found that increasing the consumption of lean protein (namely, fish) may lower the risk of benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Cutting out dairy products like butter, milk, and cheese may help cut back on symptoms associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia and reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
More specifically, the Journal of Nutrition observed that drinking whole milk can lead to fatal prostate cancer, while skim and low-fat milk may increase low-grade stages of prostate cancer.
A diet high in saturated fat has been linked to various health issues, and for individuals dealing with an enlarged prostate, it may worsen their symptoms.
Saturated fats are commonly found in:
Instead of indulging in fatty cuts of meat or whole-fat dairy, opt for leaner protein sources and low-fat dairy alternatives to support your prostate health.
Excessive sodium intake is known to contribute to increased blood pressure and fluid retention, and it can also play an indirect role in aggravating symptoms associated with an enlarged prostate.
High sodium levels can lead to water retention, potentially exacerbating the issues of frequent urination and bladder discomfort. To mitigate the impact of sodium on benign prostatic hyperplasia symptoms, consider reducing your intake of processed food, canned soups, and salty snacks. Opting for fresh, whole foods and cooking at home allows for better control over your sodium intake.
While a morning cup of coffee is a ritual for many, individuals with an enlarged prostate may want to reconsider their caffeine consumption. Caffeine is a natural diuretic, meaning it can increase urine production and potentially worsen symptoms like urgency and frequency of urination associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia.[13,14]
Exploring caffeine-free alternatives can still provide the comforting warmth of a morning beverage without the potential drawbacks associated with caffeine.
You might also consider limiting the intake of caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, tea, and certain sodas, especially in the evening, as it may contribute to better management of your urinary symptoms.
Improving prostate health through dietary choices is a proactive approach for those dealing with enlarged prostate symptoms. While certain foods may exacerbate symptoms, others can contribute positively to managing the condition and improving overall well-being.
Incorporating fatty fish into your diet can be a savory strategy for supporting prostate health. Fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, trout, and sardines, have been associated with a lower risk of benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostate cancer.
Omega-3s are also known for their anti-inflammatory properties, potentially reducing inflammation in the prostate gland. Grilled or baked fish can be delightful alternatives to red meat, offering a tasty way to benefit your prostate.
Tomatoes and tomato-based products contain a powerful antioxidant called lycopene, which has been linked to a lower risk of prostate enlargement. Lycopene is thought to counteract oxidative stress and inflammation, providing potential relief for those managing benign prostatic hyperplasia symptoms.
Consider incorporating cooked tomatoes, tomato sauce, or even a refreshing tomato salad into your meals for a flavorful boost to your healthy diet, with your prostate in mind.
Swap out your regular cup of coffee for green tea to introduce a prostate-friendly beverage into your routine. Green tea is rich in antioxidants, particularly catechins, which have demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects. Some studies suggest that regular consumption of green tea may contribute to a reduced risk of developing benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Enjoying a cup of green tea as part of your daily routine can be a simple and enjoyable way to support your prostate health.
Vegetables from the cruciferous family, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, can offer a nutritional boost for prostate health. Additionally, these vegetables contain compounds like sulforaphane, which are known for their potential anti-cancer properties.
While more research is needed to establish a direct link, incorporating cruciferous vegetables into your diet can contribute to overall well-being and may have positive effects on prostate health.
Berries, such as blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries, are not only delicious but also packed with antioxidants. These antioxidants may play a role in reducing inflammation and supporting prostate health.
Including a variety of berries in your diet as snacks, toppings, or smoothies can add a sweet and nutritious touch to your efforts in managing an enlarged prostate.
By making thoughtful dietary choices, individuals can complement medical management and contribute to an overall healthier lifestyle while addressing the challenges posed by benign prostatic hyperplasia. As with any dietary changes, it's advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice tailored to individual health needs.
If you need a guiding hand, schedule a convenient men’s health online appointment with an Everlywell healthcare provider to discuss your symptoms and learn how to customize your diet, all from the comfort and privacy of your own home.