When it comes to cancer risk, did you know that enjoying good food and a healthy lifestyle can reduce your risk by 30 to 40 percent? In fact, only smoking rates higher on the list of factors that can affect your susceptibility to cancer.
The best approach for a cancer protective diet is to eat a wide range of whole plant-based foods every day foods as close to their natural state as possible including fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, legumes, nuts and seeds. It also involves minimising overly processed foods particularly meats like salami and devon.
While it's unlikely that any one food will cure or help you to avoid cancer altogether, there are some specific foods with anti-cancer properties so it's worth including these in your cancer protective approach to eating.
Which foods are protective?
Allium vegetables like onions, garlic, leeks and chives, as well as carrots, tomatoes, green vegetables and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, cabbage and bok choy all appear to be strongly cancer protective.
Citrus fruits are likely to have a protective role in certain types of cancer, particularly of the mouth, stomach and larynx. It's thought that vitamin C, folate, carotenoids, fibre and other phytochemcials work together to provide this protective effect.
Wholegrain breads and cereals...
Packed with dietary fibre, folate, antioxidants and lignans that are thought to be responsible for a protection effect against stomach and other digestive tract cancers.
Soy foods contain natural plant substances called phytoestrogens, which have also been shown to have anti-cancer effects. Population groups, such as Asian men and women who eat traditional foods rich in phytoestrogens, have a much lower risk of developing prostate and breast cancer.
How cancer protective is your diet? Try our quiz to find out.
How can I make my diet more cancer protective?
A few small steps are all it takes to achieve a diet that will help protect you against cancer. Try the following tips to help make your diet more cancer protective:
|Base your diet on whole, plant foods
||Choose a mainly plant-based diet rich in fruit and vegetables, legumes and minimally processed starchy foods such as rice, oats and potato. Aim to fill your shopping trolley with at least 80% whole, unprocessed foods.
|Include some soy foods every day
||It is as easy as making a delicious tofu stir-fry, including soy milk on your cereal or trying some soy and linseed bread.
|Boost your citrus intake
||Snack on fresh citrus fruit or try a delicious citrus salad. Just combine segmented oranges, pink grapefruit, lime, sliced strawberries and fresh mint leaves. Serve chilled for a refreshing meal or snack.
|Start your day with wholegrains
||Try a natural muesli based on rolled oats with added fruits, nuts and seeds; a couple of pieces of grain bread with peanut butter; or another wholegrain cereal with fresh fruit and low fat soy milk.
|Enjoy a variety of vegetables
||Flavour your dishes with garlic, onions and chives; steam cruciferous vegetables to include with your evening meal or why not try steaming a bunch of baby bok choy cut in half lengthways and served with a dash of soy sauce.
|Reduce your meat intake, particularly processed meat
||Replace meat sources of protein in your diet with protective plant sources, like legumes, nuts and seeds.
|Lead a healthy lifestyle
||Enjoy regular exercise, maintain a healthy weight and, of course, avoid smoking.