Vegetables-OHCWhat we consume and how we treat our bodies on a daily basis has a very powerful effect on our health and quality of life. Although cancer can affect many different parts of the body, there are many food choices that can help reduce the risk of cancer. Do we have control over our health?

Research has shown that people who eat a diet free of animal products, high in plant foods, and low in fat have a reduced risk of developing cancer. Fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes all have important nutrients and other cancer-fighting substances like phytochemicals and pectin that strengthen immune function and destroy cancer-causing substances before they cause harm.

According to the World Health Organization, approximately one-third of cancer cases are preventable. The American Institute for Cancer Research states that an estimated 340,000 cancer cases per year can be prevented with a healthy diet, physical activity, and a consistently healthy weight.

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No single food or food component can protect you against cancer by itself. But, strong evidence does show that a diet filled with a variety of plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans helps lower risk for many cancers.

A plant-based diet improves biomarkers for obesity-related inflammation, according to a systematic review and meta-analysis published online in Obesity Reviews. Researchers analyzed 29 studies that tracked inflammatory biomarkers linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer for 2,689 participants. Those who consumed plant-based diets improved their blood level concentrations for several inflammatory biomarkers, compared with those who did not eat plant-based diets.

Eichelmann  F, Schwingshackl L, Fedirko V, Aleksandrova K. Effect of plant-based diets on obesity-related inflammatory profiles: a systematic review and meta-analysis of intervention trials. Obes Rev. Published online July 13, 2016.

 

Although our diets should reflect year round healthy choices, there is no better time to enjoy the “fruit and vegetable labor of our local farmers” like summer time.

Remember, diet and exercise are critical and excellent habits to start anytime. It’s never too late. Together we can help become a healthier community and improve our own well-being.

Grapes-OHCSo what should be your top choices when purchasing food for yourself and loved ones?

  • Shop the perimeter of your grocery store: this is where you typically find less-concentrated caloric foods and healthier choices
  • Your food preparation goal for each meal time: 2/3 (or more) vegetables, fruits whole grains or beans and 1/3 (or less) animal protein

Vegetables:

Fruits:

  • Apples
  • Blueberries, blackberries
  • Cherries
  • Grapes, grape juice
  • Grapefruit
  • Cranberries
  • Tomatoes

Whole Grains and Legumes:

  • Walnuts
  • Dry beans: kidney, black beans, peas, yellow split peas, red lentils
  • Brown rice, oatmeal, corn, whole wheat bread, barley, farro, bulgar

Other:

  • Garlic
  • Flaxseed
  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Quinoa

To learn more about healthy foods for improving your health and for cancer risk reduction, visit American Institute for Cancer Research.