5 foods that help lower your cancer risk
Getting the right vitamins and nutrients can help you stay healthy and reduce your risk for cancer.
No one food can prevent cancer. However, eating a balanced diet that includes foods rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants is important. Making these healthy lifestyle choices, staying active and maintaining a healthy weight can go a long way in reducing your risk for cancer.
Many foods are beneficial to your overall health and reduce your risk of cancer and other chronic diseases. Here are five we recommend adding to your diet.
“Berries are a wonderful source of vitamin C,” says Lindsey Wohlford, a wellness dietitian at MD Anderson.
Most berries also contain antioxidants. Studies show these antioxidants protect the body from cell damage that could lead to skin cancer, as well as cancers of the bladder, lung, breast and esophagus.
Eat berries that are fresh, frozen or dried.
Serving Size: ½ cup
- Toss some raspberries in with your morning yogurt or cereal.
- Make a low-fat strawberry smoothie for a quick, healthy snack.
- Bake some delicious oatmeal blueberry muffins for a meal-on-the-go.
The grape's skin has the most antioxidants, so be sure to leave the grape intact.
Grapes are a rich source of the antioxidant resveratrol. Studies show that resveratrol has the potential to possibly stop cancer from starting in the breast, liver, stomach and lymphatic system.
“The grape’s skin has the most resveratrol, so leave the skin intact,” Wohlford says. Red and purple grapes have significantly more resveratrol than green grapes.
Serving Size: About 15 grapes
- Grab a handful as a snack or add to a salad.
- Mix them in with your favorite, low-fat chicken salad recipe.
- Freeze as a cool treat for a hot day.
- Grapes are great in hot dishes too.
These mighty greens are in the cruciferous vegetable family, along with cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy and kale. Studies show that broccoli and its family members have special plant compounds that may protect the body from stomach cancer, as well as cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx and esophagus.
Broccoli’s “trees” (otherwise known as florets) take on the flavor of whatever spice or sauce you prepare them with.
Serving Size: ½ cup
- Puree steamed broccoli, avocado, garlic, non-fat milk and low-fat sour cream for a refreshing cold soup.
- Add your favorite spices to steamed broccoli for a great side dish.
- Cure the afternoon munchies with raw broccoli and fat-free ranch dressing
The tomato gets its classic red hue from an antioxidant called lycopene. Studies show that lycopene has the potential to fight prostate cancer. The evidence is even stronger for processed tomato products like tomato sauce and even ketchup.
“Processing the tomato ups its health-boosting power because it releases the lycopene so it can be more easily absorbed by the body,” Wohlford says
- Freeze tomato dishes for healthy leftovers.
- Make savory sauce to serve on whole-wheat pasta.
Grocery store shelves are filled with grains and grain products. But not all grains are great for your health. Whole grains are loaded with fiber, vitamins, minerals and plant compounds and may curb your cancer risk.
The fiber found in whole grains helps you stay full longer, maintain a healthy weight, and keep your cholesterol and blood sugar stable.
- Include brown rice, wild rice and whole wheat bread and pasta in your diet.
- Try quinoa. Of all the grains, quinoa packs the most protein.
- Add oatmeal to your morning smoothie. It’s an easy way to sneak in extra grains.
Request an appointment at MD Anderson's Lyda Hill Cancer Prevention Center online or call 877-632-6789.