Heidi from Noosa, Queensland, Australia asked:

Will eating a plant-based diet reduce your risk of cancer?

Fruit and vegetables and cancer

Does eating a plant based vegan diet reduce your risk of cancer?

The source:
Our answer

There is no “super food” that protects against cancer. We recommend a variety of vegetables, including green vegetables, as part of a healthy diet, as they are a low in kilojoules – and a good source of nutrients – helping to maintain a healthy weight and avoid obesity, which we know increases the risk of several cancers including breast and bowel. In addition to the benefits of healthy weight, there is evidence that a combination of fibre, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals in vegetables offers some level of protection against cancer. Research suggests foods containing carotenoids probably protect against cancers of the mouth, pharynx and larynx. Orange vegetables, including sweet potato and carrots, are rich sources of carotenoids. Dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach and silverbeet are also sources of carotenoids, as well as fibre and folate. There is evidence that foods containing folate may decrease the risk of some types of cancer and foods containing fibre probably reduce the risk of bowel cancer. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts and Asian greens contain phytochemicals that are potentially beneficial in protecting against bowel cancer. Cancer Council recommends eating at least two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables daily. As well as green vegetables, choose citrus fruits; red, orange and yellow vegetables, fruits and berries and allium varieties (like onions and leeks). Fruit and vegetables are best consumed fresh and whole rather than in supplement form. We recommend eating a variety of both cooked and raw vegetables as there are some cancer fighting agents which are better absorbed from cooked fruit or vegetables.

This page was last updated on: June 24, 2014

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