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6 tips for an anti-cancer diet

Last updated on: June 9, 2011 10:59 IST

6 Tips for an anti-cancer diet



Giving up smoking is all very fine but ensure that you make the right diet choices so your body can fight cancer.

Cancer developments are often the results of faulty lifestyles!

There are a lot of healthy practices like quitting smoking and drinking, exercising and embarking on a healthy diet that can bring down the risk of development of cancerous cells.

But the best way to put up an anti-cancer lifestyle is to include anti-cancer foods in your everyday diet.

There are foods which encourage cancer and so these are to be excluded from your eating habits. You can allow your immune system to fight diseases by making smart food choices. Here are the tips to compose your anti-cancer diet:

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Image: It is important to eat right to beat cancer


Have plant-based foods

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The list of plant-based foods would typically include whole grains, fruits, vegetables and nuts. These foods are rich in fibre and antioxidants which aid in the neutralization of free radicals in the body.

These free radicals are responsible for cancer development. The two-third portion of your plate should consist of vegetables or fruits while you should limit the consumption of dairy products, fish and meat to the remaining one-third part.

Try taking whole foods which are close to their original form. Processed foods lack adequate nutrients and hence are ineffective in fighting cancer. These are the ways by which you can add plant-based whole grain foods to your diet:

For Breakfast: Enjoy the goodness of fruits and nuts with oatmeal in the morning.

For Lunch: Fill your sandwiches with lettuce and tomatoes. Have salads garnished with beans, peas and other vegetables. Use brown bread for making sandwiches. Add carrots, fruits and sauerkraut in your plate.

For Dinner: Relish your pasta sauce with fresh vegetables and brown rice. A baked potato goes well with yoghurt, broccoli and salsa. Substitute the calorie-rich, creamy pasta sauces with tomato sauce prepared with olive oil. You should avoid having richer dessert items. Rather enjoy fruits or a single slab of dark chocolate.

Organic foods produced locally have the minimal risk of pesticide treatments. So it is better to consume local produces which are less likely to contain carcinogens.

Image: Enjoy the goodness of fruits

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Have foods rich in fibre component

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Organic foods are very rich in fiber component. Also called roughage, these plant parts which remain undigested, help in the cleaning of the digestive system by enabling food movements in the digestive tract. This way the fiber clears out the carcinogenic compounds from the digestive tract. Here are the tips to include fiber in your diet:

Replace white rice with brown rice.

Enjoy popcorn (without adding butter and salt) instead of potato chips in your spare time.

Go for baked potatoes with the skin instead of mashed potatoes.

Avoid sour cream in salads. Rather enjoy the tastes of carrots, celery or bell pepper in salsa.

Control your cravings for pastries or croissants. Rather go for a bran muffin.

Begin loving brown breads!

Have apples with the skin.

Foods like barley, oatmeal, brown rice, brown bread, citrus fruits, apples, bananas, strawberries, black-eyed peas, baked beans, lentils, black beans, blackberries, blueberries, mango, apricots, peas, carrots, tomatoes, sprouts, spinach, broccoli and leafy greens show high cancer fighting properties.

Image: Learn to love brown bread

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Lower your meat consumption

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Studies have shown that the risk of cancer is lesser by around 50 per cent in the vegetarians. This is because meat has no fiber or other nutrients which show anti-carcinogenic properties.

In addition, meat contains saturated fat, which is very harmful for health. Intake of foods rich in fat can lead to the formation of carcinogenic compounds. Here are the ways by which you can make healthier protein choices:

The total intake of meat in the diet should be restricted to a maximum limit of 15 percent.

Red meat, which contains high amount of saturated fat, should only be taken very rarely.

You should consume meat as a side dish only, just to add flavor to your main dish.

It is better to consume vegetable proteins to maintain the protein balance in your diet. Beans taste great and you have an option!

Fish, turkey and chicken are leaner meat choices and you can add these items to your diet.

You should control your desire for processed meats like hotdogs, salami and sausage. These contain unhealthy fats which have the potential to cause cancer.

Image: Lower your meat consumption

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Control your consumption of fats

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Not all fats are carcinogenic.

There are fats which offer protection against cancer.

Thus, you have to make a wiser decision regarding the selection of fats. The unhealthy fats are the trans fats and the saturated fats.

Eggs, red meat and whole milk dairy products are rich in saturated fats. Trans fats are formed by the addition of hydrogen to vegetable oils to aid in better preservation.

These two fats are highly carcinogenic. The healthy fats come from organic sources and the sources are nuts, olive oil, avocados and canola oil.

Omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon and flaxseeds are bestowed with the ability to treat inflammations and support brain and cardiac health. Here is how you can make healthier choices of fat:

You should take limited amounts of eggs, red meat, butter and whole milk since these add saturated fats to the body.

Replace regular vegetable oil with canola oil or olive oil while cooking.

You should go through the list of ingredients on the food labels. This is the way by which you can avoid foods prepared with hydrogenated oils.

Whenever you are having meat, try to avoid the consumption of the fat contents. For example, do not eat the skin of the chicken!

Sesame seeds, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds are sources of healthy fats and you can relish the goodness by adding these nuts and seeds in your salads, soups or cereals.

You can add flaxseed oil in smoothies. But remember, it would lose its greatness if heated. Hence, avoid cooking with flaxseed oil.

Fast foods like doughnuts, french fries, potato chips, crackers and cookies are rich in trans fats and so these are to be avoided.

You should limit your consumption of fish to one to two times per week. Herring, black cod, sardines and Alaskan Salmon are healthy choices. But again, mercury contamination remains a major concern.

Image: Among other foods, Eggs are rich in saturated fats

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Select the anti-cancer foods

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Eating several types of anti-cancer foods would produce the combined effect by boosting up the immune system of the body.

The list would begin with antioxidants, the powerful vitamins, which aid in the proper functioning of cells.

You can ensure proper intake of beta-carotene, Vitamin C, Selenium and Vitamin E through organic sources like fruits and vegetables.

Fruits and vegetables like blueberries which come in vibrant colors are rich in phytochemicals which aid in the strengthening of the immune system.

There are certain spices which not only add taste to your preparations, but also are effective cancer-fighters! These include curry powder, ginger, garlic, turmeric, rosemary, coriander and basil.

You should consume at least 3 liters of water per day. This would eliminate toxins from your body and at the same time it would facilitate the transportation of vital nutrients to various organs.

Image: Certain spices like ginger are effective cancer-fighters

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Adopt healthy ways of cooking

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Foods often turn harmful because of the ways they are cooked. Thus you should know the proper ways of cooking to make the best out of the nutrients which the foods have to offer to you:

Often foods might lose their nutritional value due to overcooking. So while cooking, boil the vegetables till the point they become just tender. This would allow the vitamins and the minerals to stay in the food.

Avoid burned or charred meats and smoked dishes. Preserved meats like bacon, sausage and beef are rich in carcinogens. Hence, put a limit on the consumption of these meats.

While cooking barbeque, take special care! Do not burn or overheat the meat! Cooking under high temperatures can lead to the creation of carcinogenic substances.

Use airtight containers to store oils. Oils, when comes into contact with light, heat and air tend to turn rancid.

You should opt for fresh meats rather than going for the preserved ones.

Avoid taking smelly foods. Mouldy fruits contain a powerful carcinogen called aflatoxin.

You should make use of microwave-safe containers while using microwave.

Thus, it appears from the above passages that what you eat is not only important, but how you eat carries equal weight!

The eating habits, the practice of healthy cooking and storage options would decide on the degree of risk of cancer development in individuals.

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh

Image: But eating right is important in fighting cancer. Give those sinful foods a pass

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