There is no one type of food that can prevent cancer; rather a combination of a well-varied diet with nutrient-rich foods may be the answer to this baffling disease. However, fruits and vegetables are a great source of vitamins, minerals, fibre and healthful substances, known as phytochemicals. Many phytochemicals have antioxidants properties that are believed to fight certain diseases, such as cancer. It’s important to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in different colours every day. It’s the various phytochemicals in the fruits and vegetables that gives them their natural colours, the antioxidant effect and also other various health benefits.
Fruits and veggies in these colours are high in carotenes. High intake of these type of fruits and vegetables are associated with strengthening the body’s defense against infections, and promote good eye health, e.g. Papaya, mangoes, oranges, carrots, yellow capsicum, sweet potatoes and pumpkin.
These fruits and veggies also contain carotenes, but are masked by a green-coloured pigment, known as chlorophyll. Other phytochemicals include lutein and zeaxanthin. High intake of green leafy vegetables are not only associated with the reduced risk of certain cancers but it also helps in promoting good eye health, e.g. Green leafy vegetables (spinach, kangkung, cekor manis), green capsicum and kiwi fruit.
Rich in lycopene, a type of carotenoid. High intake of lycopene is associated with the reduced risk of various cancers as well as heart disease. e.g. Tomatoes, red capsicums, watermelon and papaya.
Loaded with phytochemicals such as anthocyanins. High intake of blue and purple veggies is associated with the reduced risk of cancers and heart disease. e.g. Red dragon fruit, plums, blueberries, brinjal and purple cabbage.
White fruits and vegetables are good sources of vitamin C, potassium and fibre. Some white produce such as cauliflower and cabbage also contain phytochemicals such as indoles. e.g. Guava, bananas, pears, mangosteen, chinese cabbage and cauliflower.
Did You Know...?
Kailan, broccoli, pak choy, cabbage, brussels sprouts and cauliflower are examples of vegetables in the brassica family or also known as cruciferous vegetables. These vegetables are rich in phytochemicals such as indoles and glucosinolates that are associated with reducing the risk of certain cancers including breast cancer.
Preventing cancer could also start with some dietary changes that may reduce the risk of getting cancer.
• Be as lean as possible within the normal range of body weight.
• Be physically active as part of everyday life.
• Eat mostly foods of plant origin.
• Aim to meet nutritional needs through diet alone and not through supplements.
• Limit consumption of energy-dense foods. Avoid sugary drinks.
• Limit alcoholic drinks.
• Limit intake of red meat and avoid processed meat.
• Limit consumption of salt.
Although antioxidants can be helpful in combating cancer, it should be obtained through the diet, and not taken through supplements. Supplements are not the way to obtain the natural phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables.