Cancer Awareness and Prevention: Make Healthy Food Choices for Protection

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month – a month that is meaningful to many as breast cancer, and all cancers, affect millions annually.

How can healthy choices reduce the risk of cancer?

Genetics, lifestyle and nutrition all affect an individual’s likelihood of developing cancer. Although we cannot change our genetic profile, we can reduce our risk of developing cancer by making healthy choices. Avoiding tobacco, limiting alcohol consumption and maintaining a healthy weight have all been noted to lower the risk of developing cancer.

No single lifestyle change can prevent cancer. However, when combined with other healthy choices, specific changes can significantly reduce the risk of cancer. For instance, choosing a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes and low in processed foods has been proven to provide protective abilities against breast cancer and other types of cancer.

Eating a balanced diet of healthy foods can reduce the risk of cancer

MyPlate is a food guide created by the USDA that can assist you in making healthy mealtime decisions. It focuses on variety and highlights the importance of consuming all five major food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy. Following the MyPlate plan may reduce the risk of developing cancer as it focuses on eating a balanced diet and choosing foods with less saturated fat, sodium and added sugars.

Ease some tension by making these food choices for cancer prevention.

Vary your veggies

Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflowers and collard greens are renowned for their cancer-preventing abilities. Cruciferous vegetables are high in vitamins C, E and K. They are also a great source of fiber. Studies suggest that a high intake of cruciferous vegetables lowers the risk of developing prostate, colorectal, lung and breast cancer.

Vary your veggies by eating two to three cups each day!

Feel good with fruit

Fruits are packed with vitamins and minerals that can stop cancer-causing carcinogens in their path. Fruits are naturally low in calories, fat and sodium, and they are cholesterol-free. Evidence suggests that frequent and adequate consumption of fruits can decrease the risk of developing mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophageal, lung, stomach and colorectal cancer.

Make mealtime sweet by eating one to two cups of fruit daily!

Lean on legumes

Legumes are a class of vegetables that include beans, peas and lentils. Legumes are low in fat and cholesterol-free. They are high in fiber, folate, potassium and iron. They are a great source of protein. A high intake of legumes is associated with a decreased risk of developing digestive, stomach, colorectum and kidney cancer.

Aim to consume two cups of legumes each week!

Wave hello to whole grains

Whole grains are higher in dietary fiber than refined grains. Dietary fiber is best known for its ability to keep our digestive system regular, preventing constipation. Evidence suggests that consuming whole grains protects against gastrointestinal, breast and prostate cancers.

Make half your grains whole at mealtime!

In addition to these cancer-preventing effects, a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes – when paired with exercise – has been noted to help with weight management, decrease the risk of stroke, decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes, and improve overall wellbeing. Remember, making these food choices alone does not guarantee a cancer-free life. However, making these choices places you one step closer to living a long, healthy life!

Nutrition is key at every age! For more tips on healthy eating and easier mealtimes, check out CICOA’s printable nutrition tip sheets. Live your healthiest, best life!

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