Learn about diet, cancer prevention
April is National Cancer Control Month, and although we’re reminded that cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, cancer is considered a largely preventable disease. Between 80 and 90 percent of all cancers are related to environmental factors, including smoking, chemical pollutants, inactivity and diet. Not surprisingly, diet accounts for 40 percent of cancer risk. Although certain people are genetically predisposed to the disease, research shows you can help reduce your disease risk by taking five simple steps: 1.
Lose excess weight: Being overweight is one of the main risk factors for uterine, colon, breast, esophageal and kidney cancers. So, when you lose weight, you immediately reduce your cancer risk.
2. Eat more green, purple, red and yellow vegetables: No single food can protect you from cancer, but scientists believe that a combination of foods in a plant-based diet may.
3. Limit alcohol consumption: Drinking alcohol in excess is associated with an increased risk of cancer. Generally accepted limits are one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
4. Make your grains whole: Whole grains contain vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals, which play a role in cancer prevention. Try to include three to four 100 percent whole grain products in your diet each day.
5. Reduce red meat consumption: Meat is a terrific source of protein, but fish and poultry are the healthiest choices. Red meats have a high fat content, which promotes inflammation — a contributing factor in the development of cancer.
Talk is cheap, so here are some ideas you can put to use right away: Breakfast: Add two tablespoons flaxseed to your oatmeal or cold cereal, or add some flax oil to your smoothie. Flaxseed oil is high in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid that is thought to have beneficial anti-cancer effects.
Lunch: Have a grilled salmon or catfish sandwich. Both are rich sources of vitamin D, a proto-hormone that appears to interfere with cancer growth.
Snacks: Berries are the perfect snack, containing ellagic acid and other antioxidants that inhibit tumor growth. Eat them plain, toss them in yogurt or add them to a protein shake.
Dinner: Toast to good health with red wine, a source of resveratrol that appears to suppress metabolites associated with cancer growth. And enjoy broccoli, kale or collards with dinner; each has anti-cancer properties, including sulforaphane and selenium. Chewing, more than subsequent digestion, releases these beneficial plant chemicals.
Dessert: Have a piece of dark chocolate with at least 70-percent cocoa. The antioxidants and polyphenols in chocolate have powerful anti-cancer properties.
Tina Ruggiero, M.S., R.D., L.D., is a nutrition expert and award-winning author. Her new book, “The Truly Healthy Family Cookbook,” will be available in August. Find Tina at www.TinaRuggiero.com.