Monday, September 13, 2010

Cancer Prevention Diet Tip: Focus on Plant-based Foods

The best diet for preventing or fighting cancer is a predominantly plant-based diet that includes a variety of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. A plant-based diet means eating mostly foods that come from plants: vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains, and beans.
The less processed these foods are—the less they’ve been cooked, peeled, mixed with other ingredients, stripped of their nutrients, or otherwise altered from the way they came out of the ground—the better.

There are many ways to add plant-based foods to your diet. A nice visual reminder is to aim for a plate of food that is filled at least two-thirds with whole grains, vegetables, beans, or fruit. Dairy products, fish, and meat should take up no more than a third of the plate. Keep in mind that you don’t need to go completely vegetarian. Instead, focus on adding “whole” foods, which are foods close to their original form. Just as important, try to minimize or reduce the amount of processed foods you eat. Eat an apple instead of drinking a glass of apple juice, for example. Or enjoy a bowl of oatmeal with raisins instead of an oatmeal raisin cookie.

Simple tips for getting more plant-based foods in your diet

Breakfast: Add fruit and a few seeds or nuts to your whole grain breakfast cereal (oatmeal!).

Lunch: Eat a big salad filled with your favorite beans and peas or other combo of veggies. Always order lettuce and tomato (plus any other veggies you can!) on your sandwiches. Order whole grain bread for your sandwiches. Have a side of veggies like cut up carrots, sauerkraut or a piece of fruit.

Snacks: fresh fruit and vegetables. Grab an apple or banana on your way out the door. Raw veggies such as carrots, celery, cucumbers, jicama, peppers, etc. are great with a low-fat dip such as hummus. Keep trail mix made with nuts, seeds and a little dried fruit on hand.

Dinner: Add fresh or frozen veggies to your favorite pasta sauce or rice dish. Top a baked potato with broccoli and yogurt, sautéed veggies, or with salsa. Replace creamy pasta sauces, with sautéed vegetables or tomato sauce made with healthy olive oil.

Dessert: Choose fruit instead of a richer dessert. Or a single square of dark chocolate.

Buy organic or local produce, if possible.

Some pesticides found in commercially-grown produce are also suspected carcinogens. Organic foods are free of these pesticides, and locally grown produce is less likely to have been treated with chemicals to prevent spoilage.

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