Eat These Fruits for a Sweet Way to Reduce Your Cancer Risk
Eating a variety of fruits on a regular basis can lead to a long list of health benefits, including a reduced risk of cancer.
“Fruits are an important—and very delicious—part of a healthy, plant-based diet,” says Candice Schreiber, RD, CSO, LD, a clinical nutritionist at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James).
“They help fight inflammation, and chronic inflammation is a pre-curser to cancer,” she says, adding that the nutrients, vitamins and phytochemicals in fruit can possibly stop carcinogens before they have a chance to begin developing cancer, and can block the formation of new blood vessels tumors need to grow. Nutrients in fruits can also stimulate the immune system and act as antioxidants.
Schreiber recommends 1.5 to 2 cups of a variety of fruits a day.
“Not many Americans meet this requirement,” she says. “Eat as many different fruits you can, as no single one can protect you from cancer. A healthy diet, regular exercise and maintaining a proper weight are the best prevention tools.”
Here’s a taste of five fantastic fruits that can reduce the risk of some types of cancer:
Berries such as blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries are extremely heathy. They’re filled with fiber, folate, lots of Vitamin C and “they contain polyphenols that may interfere with the development of cancer,” Schreiber says.
As for the acai berry, which is often marketed as a superfood, Schreiber recommends sticking with the whole fruit.
“The acai berry is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats,” Schreiber says. “However, it’s typically found in powders and juices with added sugar.”
An Apple a Day
The ubiquitous apple is inexpensive, available all year and comes in seemingly endless varieties.
Apples are a good source of fiber and Vitamin C, exhibit anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and contain pectin, a fiber “which the bacteria in your gut can use to produce compounds that protect the cells in the colon,” Schreiber says. “And, you should eat the peel of the apple, as it contains at least one-third of all these healthy phytochemicals.”
She recommends eating a whole or cut apple as a snack, dicing them for salads and slicing them to add a sweet crunch to sandwiches. She also suggests baking or roasting cubes of apples with vegetables to add some sweetness.
You Say Tomato…
Tomatoes are a fruit, and a very healthy one. They are loaded with lycopene, an antioxidant that has displayed anti-cancer potential in several laboratory studies. Cooking tomatoes increases the lycopene, and cooking them with some type of fat, such as olive oil, increases the body’s ability to absorb that lycopene.
“Many phytochemicals, such as lycopene, work synergistically when combined with other phytochemicals from a different fruit or vegetable,” Schreiber says. “For example, tomatoes and broccoli—studies have shown that when they’re combined, they lower prostate cancer growth more than when they’re eaten separately.”
Be Smart with the Tart
Citrus fruits, such as oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes are great sources of Vitamin C and contain flavonoids, which can boost the immune system, promote heart health and suppress the growth of tumor blood vessels.
Half a grapefruit is an excellent way to start the day, and Schreiber recommends adding lemon and lime juice to water for an extra dose of flavor and nutrients.
However, she warns that grapefruit “can interact with some types of medications, such as cholesterol medicines, so talk to your doctor before adding grapefruit to your diet.”
The Awesome Avocado
Avocados are a great source of monounsaturated fat and also contain several vitamins, antioxidants and phytochemicals. They contain fiber and potassium, which helps maintain a normal heart rate and can help lower blood pressure.
While avocados have a lot of benefits, Schreiber warns against having too much of a good thing.
“Be careful, because avocados also have a lot of calories—about 250, maybe more—per fruit,” she says, adding that the guacamole served at many restaurants contain lots of high-calorie oils.
“If you’re going to eat guacamole, I suggest you make it at home and only use lime juice, cilantro and chopped up garlic and onions—maybe some tomatoes.”
Schreiber also recommends adding avocado to salads, sandwiches and smoothies.
Schreiber is a board-certified specialist in oncology nutrition who leads a monthly, free lunch & learn sponsored by JamesCare for Life. View a schedule of JamesCare for Life events.