Below are some great tips for helping you reduce your cancer risk:
- Maintain a healthy weight or achieve a healthy weight if you fall into the overweight/obese range on the BMI scale. Obese individuals have chronic low-level inflammation that can damage DNA which may ultimately lead to cancer. Additionally, excess fat tissue can increase the risk of breast, endometrial, ovarian and some other cancers.
- Limit saturated fats and added sugar in your diet. Foods with these ingredients are generally high in calories but low in nutrient value. Consumption of these foods in excess can lead to weight gain and reduce your capacity to consume healthy, nutrient dense foods.
- Eat plenty of vegetables, fruit and whole grains. Fruits, non-starchy vegetables and foods with whole grains contain phytochemicals that have antioxidant, antiestrogen and chemo-preventative components that may aide in cancer prevention. Additionally, whole grains are good sources of fiber which may have a positive benefit in altering the hormonal action in breast cancer (as well as other cancers that have hormone dependency).
- Consume red meat and processed meats in moderation. Heavily processed meats including bacon, ham and hot dogs have been associated with increased prevalence of developing cancer, especially colon cancer. Eat these foods in small portions, while filling the rest of your plate with delicious vegetables, fruits and sources of whole grains.
- Eat more plant-based proteins. Nutrient dense plant proteins have been shown to reduce cancer risk due to low levels of processing and the presence of necessary nutrients. Beans and lentils contain protein, fiber, iron and potassium—all of which are critical for healthy metabolism.
- Reduce alcohol intake. Even moderate amounts of alcohol can increase your risk of cancer. This is believed to happen because when you drink alcohol, the body breaks it down into acetaldehyde which damages DNA and prevents the body from repairing the damage done. When DNA is damaged, cells can begin growing out of control and potentially create cancer tumors. Limit alcoholic beverages to 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men.
- Eat real foods first! Nutrients that occur naturally in foods offer protective effects against cancer. These findings are not always true for those in supplements. Consuming nutrient-rich whole foods and beverages are the best source for cancer prevention.
Since we are experiencing colder-than-usual temperatures here in Minnesota—let’s warm up with a hot bowl of this delicious Chicken and Plantain Stew. Plantains are larger, starchy and “less sweet” than traditional bananas. Generally, they are green, yellow or dark brown. Plantains require cooking and are not flavorful to eat in the raw form. Plantains are a good source of potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants.