Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in North America. Regular screening, a good diet and exercise are all important for prevention. Registered dietitian Sue Mah tells us how we can help prevent colorectal cancer by stocking healthy foods in the kitchen.
Vegetables and Fruit
Stock a variety of vegetables and fruit. The Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada says eating enough fruit and vegetables is important because they tend to be lower in calories, and higher in fibre, nutrients and antioxidants. The more colourful the produce, the better. Eat at least one dark green and one orange vegetable every day. Dark green vegetables such as broccoli and spinach are especially nutritious.
Tip: You'd have to drink six cups of orange juice to get the same amount of fibre found in one large orange. So remember to eat the fruit whole, and not only the juice.
According to Diet and Cancer report by the World Cancer Research Fund, drinking milk may protect against colorectal cancer. The calcium and vitamin D in milk are thought to give this benefit. Aim for two cups every day.
Tip: Steep your tea in warm milk, have a latte, or use it to cook oatmeal, quinoa, or risotto to make them creamier and more nutritious.
Whole Grains and Legumes
Make sure your pantry has legumes and whole grains. They have been shown to help prevent colorectal cancer because they contain dietary fibre which absorbs liquid and adds bulk to stool. In turn, our food waste passes through our intestines quicker, absorbing carcinogens and other toxins as it travels.
Legumes such as red kidney beans, white navy beans, chickpeas, black beans and lentils are all good options and can be tossed into soups, salads and stews for a lean protein and fibre boost. Also, make sure at least half the grains you eat are whole grain, and limit grain products that are high in sugar, salt or fat.
Studies have shown there are components in garlic that may inhibit colon tumor formation. So go ahead, use garlic, cooked or raw. To get the maximum benefit, chop garlic and let it sit for about 10 to 15 minutes first. In addition to the health benefits, it adds so much flavour!
For more information on colon cancer, check out this brochure produced by the dietitians at Dairy Farmers of Canada in association with the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada. Another great source of information is Colorectal-Cancer.ca.
There's a lot more to milk products than most of us realize. Learn more at GetEnough.ca.