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May 7, 2008

Reduce your risk of cancer by eating colourful fruit and vegetables

We are all aware of the benefits of eating fruit and vegetables. However, recent research shows that eating just one or two more pieces of fruit and vegetables per day can significantly reduce your risk of cancer. Since one-third of cancers are diet related, changing your diet can drastically decrease your chances of getting cancer. Fruit and vegetables are one of the most important means of significantly improving your diet and your immune system.

While we mostly choose our foods for taste and convenience and less for the benefits they can confer to our health, eating higher quantities of fruits and vegetables each day markedly reduces the risk of cancer, heart disease and some diseases of ageing.

Numerous studies have explored the link between cancer and diet and concluded that eating fruit and vegetables reduces the risk of all types of cancer. Studies have shown that if you increase your daily fruit and vegetable intact to at least five servings of fruit and vegetables a day, your risk of cancer could decline by as much as 20%-30%. A serving being a medium sized piece of fruit, a small glass of fruit juice, one cup of leafy vegetables or half a cup of other vegetables.
Selecting fruit and vegetables by colour

Not only is it important to increase the amount of fruit and vegetables consumed but it is recommended that we eat daily from as many ‘colour‘ groups as possible. This is to ensure that the body receives the full range of benefits and ‘protectors‘ provided by the natural cancer blocking agents such as photochemicals, flavons, cumines, phenols and isothiocyanates found in various fruits and vegetables. These agents prevent carcinogens from reaching cells in the body.

Of particular benefit are ‘green‘ cruciferous vegetables that contain the mineral selenium and the mechanisms that protect against cancer. Researchers have estimated the risk of colon and breast cancer could be reduced by 40% through eating vegetables from the cruciferous group. Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, brussel sprouts, bok choy and cauliflower.

Adding ‘red-purple‘ berry fruits such as raspberries, strawberries, blueberries cranberries to your diet increases antioxidants and anticancer activities in the body.

Eating garlic and other 'white-green' foods such as leeks, onions and chives from the onion-family may inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

The consumption of ‘red‘ foods containing lycopene such as tomatoes are associated with a decreased risk of cancer.

Beta carotene found in ‘orange‘, ‘orange-yellow‘ and ‘yellow-green‘ fruits and vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupes (rockmelon), pumpkin, butternut fight cancer and boost our immune systems. Beta carotene blocks the growth of cancerous cells.

Not only does eating fruit and vegetables provide essential nutrients and chemicals to the body but it also decreases your appetite for fatty foods which in themselves can cause cancers and other health problems.

By choosing wisely each day from fruit and vegetables from the seven colour groups you will give your body the help it needs to resist cancer and promote good general health.
The seven colour groups of fruit and vegetables

Colour Fruit & vegetable examples
Red Tomatoes and tomato products (juice, pasta sauces and soups)
Red-Purple Blueberries, grapes, blackberries, raspberries
Orange Carrots, pumpkin, mangoes, sweet potato
Orange-Yellow Cantaloupe (rock melon), peaches, oranges
Spinach, avocado, honeydew melon
Green Broccoli, bok choy, cabbage
Leeks, garlic, onion, chives

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