Tips To Fight Cancer With Your Fork

Armen Hareyan's picture

Theholidays are in full swing and festive food is everywhere. While these foodsare delicious to eat, some have an added bonus of containing cancer-preventingnutrients, says Stephanie Meyers, MS, RD/LDN, a nutritionist at Dana-FarberCancer Institute in Boston.

Pumpkinisn't just for pie

Pumpkin canbe a holiday staple for many families. And for some, it may be one of thetastiest ways to enhance the body's natural cancer fighting ability, saysMeyers. Pumpkins are packed with cancer fighting nutrients called carotenoids,which have been linked to the prevention of colon, prostate, breast, and lungcancer.

Althoughmany people only think of eating pumpkin when it is made into a pie, it alsocan be consumed in a variety of other ways, including roasted pumpkin, pumpkinsoup and high fiber pumpkin muffins or bread.

Otherorange vegetables, including sweet potatoes, carrots and squash, such as acornand butternut, also are rich in carotenoids.

Meyersstresses that it is more beneficial to consume carotenoids from whole foodsrather than from supplements, as the carotenoids in the pill-form do not appearto have the same protective properties. In fact, that is true of many of thenutrients in foods. Eating whole foods typically provides greater healthbenefits than taking a dietary supplement.

An apple aday


Apples areanother food with cancer preventing properties, thanks to the nutrientquercitin, which protects DNA in the cell from damage that could lead to thedevelopment of cancer.

Meyerspoints out, however, that apples provide the most protection against cancerwhen eaten with the skin on and not combined with sugar and fats, such as in apie.

Not justfor the holidays

Cranberriesalso offer nutritional protection against cancer. Cranberries contain benzoicacid, which has been shown to inhibit the growth of lung cancer, colon cancer,and some forms of leukemia.

Meyersreminds her patients that cranberries aren't just for the holidays andencourages them to eat cranberries year-round. She says that buying bags ofcranberries now, while they are at their nutritional best, and popping them inthe freezer for later will help ensure that the berries provide the highestlevel of cancer protection all year long.

Color yourworld

The overallkey to finding cancer fighting foodsis to look for a lot of color. The brighter and richer the pigment, the higherthe level of nutrients. "You want to load up your plate with as muchcolorful plant-based foods as you can, such as tomatoes, carrots, and sweetpotatoes" explains Meyers. "Eating a plant-based diet all year longis the best way to help lower your risk of cancer."