By Laura Coti Garrett, MS, RDN
April is National Cancer Control Month and there is no better time than now to focus on living a healthy lifestyle to help prevent cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, in order to lower your risk of cancer, you should stay at a healthy weight, be physically active, eat a healthy diet and refrain from smoking. Do these recommendations sound familiar to you? If so, it’s because you’ve likely heard them before in connection with diabetes and heart disease. Following these guidelines will not only lower your risk of getting cancer, they will also help to prevent diabetes and heart disease too. Great news!
To give your diet cancer and disease-fighting power, focus on eating more plant foods. Colorful plant foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains are bursting with antioxidants that help to protect our cells from damage. Because cell damage is associated with an increased cancer risk, antioxidants may help to protect against cancer. In fact, studies show that people who eat more fruits and vegetables have a lower risk for some types of cancers.
Make it your goal to eat at least 2 ½ cups of fruits and veggies each day. Some simple ways to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet are by 1) making sure each meal you eat includes either a fruit or vegetable, 2) going “meatless” for one meal each day and eating a vegetarian meal instead and 3) keeping washed fruit on the counter and prepared veggies in the fridge so you can easily grab and go!
Interestingly, taking antioxidant supplements does not appear to be as beneficial for reducing cancer risk as eating fruits and vegetables. It seems that the health benefits of plant foods may be more complex than just being about antioxidant content, as plant foods contain many other nutrient compounds as well. The bottom-line is that to reduce cancer risk, its best (and most delicious) to get your antioxidants from food.
Get started today on powering up your diet with this simple-to-prepare Tomato Sauce recipe below!
Quick Tomato Sauce
2 -28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 Fresh Garlic cloves crushed or diced
Oregano and pepper (optional)
Heat olive oil in a 4 qt. pot, add garlic and cook until slightly brown. You can use garlic powder instead of fresh garlic but add it to the sauce instead of the oil. Next, pour in crushed tomatoes and cook for ½ hour, stirring occasionally. Add oregano and pepper to taste.
Laura Coti Garrett is a registered dietitian-nutritionist and diabetes educator. You can find her Dietitian Picks meal plans and shopping lists at Winner Super Foods
Sound Bites for social media or overhead announcements
Eat colorful fruits and vegetables to give your diet cancer and disease-fighting power.
Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are powerful sources of cancer and disease-fighting antioxidants.
Improve your diet with plant foods. Aim to get at least 2 ½ cups of fruits and vegetables and at least 3 servings of whole grains each day.
Mom was right, you should eat your vegetables! Broccoli and other cruciferous veggies have nutrients that may protect against cancer.
Include a fruit or vegetable with each meal to give your body a boost of antioxidants.