By Sheri Berger
March is Colorectal Cancer prevention month. A combination of a healthy diet, regular physical activity and healthy body weight can lower your risk of cancer. Consuming a plant rich diet with a focus on variety is a great way to reduce cancer risk. No single food or nutrient will prevent cancer alone; it is the synergy of nutrients working together in the overall diet that provide cancer protection.
Here are five plant foods that are excellent to include:
1. Cruciferous vegetables are nutrition powerhouses that resemble a cross or “crucifer,” hence the name. Some of the most common varieties are Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, turnips, kale, collard greens, and broccoli. This magnificent vegetable group supplies folate, magnesium, fiber, potassium, vitamins C & K, and beta-carotene in the diet. There is strong evidence that cruciferous vegetables lower risk of colorectal cancer.
Tip: Cruciferous vegetables are versatile and easy to incorporate. Add leafy greens to smoothies, soups, sandwiches, wraps, or make them the sandwich wrap!
2. Grapes are an excellent source of the cancer fighting, inflammation reducing, and longevity associated compound resveratrol. In studies, resveratrol has been shown to block the development of skin, breast and leukemia cancer. The skins of grapes contain the highest levels of reveratrol, which may be associated with some of the health benefits of drinking red wine. For cancer prevention, it is recommended to only drink alcohol in moderation.
Tip: Enjoy grapes as part of a snack or add them to a leafy green salad to add a variety of texture and bit of sweetness!
3. Quinoa is a wonderful whole grain that is rich in fiber, protein, and antioxidants. A variety of healthful compounds in whole grains give this food group high potential for anti-cancer promotion. A cup of quinoa contains about 222 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and 8 grams of protein. Quinoa is not low calorie, but it is very nutrient dense and filling. Consuming a variety of fiber rich whole grains foods is important for cancer prevention, especially colorectal cancer.
Tip: Add a variety of vegetables to quinoa to boost the quantity without significantly increasing calories.
4. Flaxseed is an excellent source of lignins, fiber, ALA (plant form of omega-3), and vitamin E. A suggested serving size is 4 tablespoons of ground flaxseed which contains 150 calories and about 7 grams of fiber. The high fiber content gives flaxseed potential for helping to prevent colorectal cancer. Further research is needed, but flaxseed may also help to prevent breast cancer because of the lignan content.
Tip: To get the full nutritional benefits, consume your flaxseeds ground. Sprinkle them in smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt, salads, or muffin, bread, or pancake batter.
5. Beans are a member of the legume family, which also includes split peas and lentils. Legumes are excellent sources of folate and fiber, providing 20% of the recommended daily amount per serving. Fiber helps to control weight and it protects colon cells, helping to decrease cancer risk. Folate and phytochemical rich components of beans also show promise for anti-cancer effects.
Tip: Canned beans are convenient and nutritionally equivalent to dried, rinse with water to remove most sodium.
American Institute for Cancer Research http://www.aicr.org/foods-that- fight-cancer/
Renee, J (2/18/14) Livestrong, Foods That Fight Colon Cancer. Retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/318423-foods- that-fight- colon-cancer/
Thomas, M (1/27/11) Livestrong, Quinoa Rice Nutrition. Retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/367355-quinoa- rice-nutrition/
About the Author:
Sheri Berger is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist having completed her B.S. in Food/Nutrition & Dietetics and a dietetic internship at Loyola University Chicago. Sheri has a diverse professional background that includes hospital and outpatient clinic patient support, preventive wellness programs, corporate wellness services, cardiovascular disease management, and working with seniors. Sheri enjoys engaging her clients in pursuit of their personal wellness goals and leading by example with her healthy lifestyle. She has been certified in adult weight management since 2005. She belongs to the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, California Dietetic Association, and the San Jose Peninsula District of the CDA. Sheri enjoys spending her free time with her family and she loves to run marathons.