cheapest microsoft autoroute 2010 buy publisher 2007 cheapest office 2007 home software cheap cs4 indesign mac buy adobe captivate 5.5 autocad 2011 lt price where to buy windows xp full version cheap windows 7 professional 64 bit omnigraffle discount code best price office 2007 standard upgrade purchase nero 8 get office 2010 64 bit windows 7 buy buy mindmanager 8 download best price rosetta stone tagalog
cheap adobe flash cs5 
buy powerdirector 7 ultra 
discount quicken 2008 
buy frontpage 2010 microsoft.com 
purchase adobe lightroom 
buy illustrator cs3 windows 
buy microsoft visio 2010 
buy microsoft office 2010 student home 
adobe indesign cs5 student discount 
price of windows xp 32 bit 
buy guitar pro 5 uk 
purchase adobe indesign cs2 
adobe illustrator cs3 sale 
cost of bento 3 
buy office 2003 licence 

You Ask, I Answer: Nutrition and Cancer Risk

10_foods_berries_raychel_deppeWhat foods reduce the risk of cancer the most?

– Ronald (Last name unknown)
(Location unknown)

In terms of overall cancer risk, it is pretty clear that diets high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seafood, legumes, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices appear to have a more protective effect than those high in red meat and dairy products.

FYI: many people — nutritionists included — often forget the power of consistent intakes of herbs and spices, all of which are loaded with phytonutrients and antioxidants.

That is not to say, of course, that cancer can be prevented simply by eating healthy, since other factors like stress, pollution, and genetics play a prominent role as well.

Also, I am not stating that meat or dairy cause cancer.  As I have explained in previous posts, part of the dilemma with nutrition research lies in determining if a certain diet increases cancer risk because of what it is high in or because of what it offers little of.

What is absolutely obvious, though, is that phytonutrients and biochemical compounds (like flavonoids and antioxidants) play crucial roles in cancer risk reduction, and diets low in plant foods offer much lower amounts of these compounds.

I consider the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research two top-notch sources for information regarding nutrition and cancer.  Here are some of their conclusions based on reviews of thousands of large-scale long-term clinical studies:

  • Non-starchy vegetables are most helpful in reducing risk of mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, and stomach cancers
  • Allium vegetables (garlic, onions, scallions, leeks, etc.)  have been found to be most effective against stomach cancers
  • There is also substantial evidence of garlic having a protective effect against colorectal cancer
  • Fruits (this includes avocados!) are implicated in risk-reduction of mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, lung, and stomach cancers
  • Nuts and seeds have a protective effect against prostate cancer

As you may suspect, one rather frustrating issue — at least for me — with large-scale nutrition research studies (the ones that receive significant funding and often make significant discoveries) is that, understandably, they tend to focus on commonly-consumed foods.  It makes sense; after all, it’s most helpeful to determine what effect mainstream dietary patterns have on health, since those literally affect tens of millions of individuals.

However, this means that a lot of wonderful, but not as commonly consumed, foods chock-full of nutrition (think quinoa, maca, ginger, cumin, wild rice, goji berries, tempeh, kale, hemp seeds, etc.) are barely investigated.  Heck, even sweet potatoes have largely been ignored.

It’s clear these foods have health-promoting properties and offer plenty of nutrition, but I wish there were more clinical studies looking at their effect on health.

In conclusion, though, you can never go wrong with whole, minimally processed foods.

Keep in mind my “dartboard” visual:

  • The center circle is for foods you want to eat on a daily basis.  This circle should be mainly made up of minimally processed plant-based foods.
  • The second outer circle is for foods that can be enjoyed four or five times a month.
  • The third outer circle is for foods that are best consumed no more than once or twice a month

PS: One of my absolute biggest pet-peeves is rankings of healthy foods.  I consider articles or television segments which state that an apple is healthier than an orange, which in turn is healthier than a banana a complete joke.  The fact that a fruit has 10 percent more vitamin C than another does not make it superior (because, chances are, that other fruit contains unique phytonutrients).

Share

2 Comments

  1. dennise said on December 23rd, 2009

    Can you post on twitter that dartboard analogy every so often? It is so helpful…I want to use it for my kids…and I am spending six weeks teaching foods in Spanish and instead of doing the cultural route (because we really spoke about Hungry Planet for half a year last year) I am thinking of maybe using that dartboard as the context for the teaching…

    maybe I can talk to you about integrating stuff like fiber, etc.. What do you think is important for kids to know when they eat an apple? or a handful of nuts?

    Something to think about…

  2. Andy Bellatti said on December 23rd, 2009

    Just posted the analogy on Twitter and Facebook again! Thanks for reminder — I, too, think it is worth putting up every so often.

    Let’s definitely chat. E-mail or call me whenever you’d like.

Leave a Reply

Trackbacks