You know fiber is good for your heart and digestion—and now promising new research reveals another health benefit for men. Fiber may help slow the progression of prostate cancer. Phytic acid, a nondigestible carbohydrate found in fiber-rich foods, slowed the growth of prostate cancer tumors in mice in a study out of the University of Colorado Cancer Center, published in Cancer Prevention Research in January 2013. Though phytic acid didn’t stop the tumors from developing in the first place, it significantly slowed their progression and prevented them from advancing to an aggressive stage. “[Phytic acid] cut off the energy supply to the tumors by decreasing the number of blood vessels and reducing the amount of glucose pumped into the cells,” explains lead author Komal Raina, Ph.D.
The dietary guidelines recommend that men eat 38 grams of fiber daily, but most only get about 15 grams a day. Up your fiber—and phytic acid—intake by swapping in whole grains for refined ones and eating more produce. Also try snacking on nuts and seeds and adding beans to your diet (1/2 cup of black beans delivers a whopping 8 grams of fiber). Remember: add fiber slowly and drink plenty of fluids to help ease your digestive system into a more fiber-rich diet.