What should I eat to reduce my risk of cancer?
Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating recommends balancing your daily meals with foods from the following four food groups:
-- Grain products: 5-12 servings per day
-- Fruit and vegetables: 5-10 servings per day
-- Milk products: 2-4 servings per day (for adults)
-- Meat and alternatives: 2-3 servings per day.
The Food Guide also recommends:
-- enjoying a variety of foods
-- emphasizing cereals, breads, other grain products, vegetables, and fruits
-- choosing lower-fat dairy products, leaner meats, and foods prepared with little or no fat
-- achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight by engaging in regular physical activity and healthy eating (To determine what your healthy body weight is, check out the Body Mass Index on Health Canada's web site.)
-- limiting salt, alcohol, and caffeine.
Is there anything specific I should or should not eat to lower my risk of cancer?
Eat 5 to 10 servings of vegetables and fruit a day.
According to the latest research in the area of diet and cancer, vegetables and fruit are the most likely of all foods to help reduce the risk of cancer. To find out more about how you can increase the amount of vegetables and fruit in your diet.
Eat a diet rich in fibre.
Get lots of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Eat enriched grains or whole grain products made with wheat bran, oat bran, whole wheat, oats, rye, or flax.
Adopt a lower-fat diet.
Eat lower-fat dairy products, leaner meats, and foods prepared with little or no fat. Limit fast foods, convenience foods, and high-fat, baked foods.
Drink less alcohol.
If you don't drink, don't start. If you choose to drink, do so in moderation. As described in Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating, for most adults, moderate drinking means no more than 1 drink a day, and no more than 7 drinks a week. More than 4 drinks on one occasion, or more than 14 drinks a week is a risk to health and safety. If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, avoid alcohol.
Limit the amount of meats you eat that are preserved in salt.
These meats include bacon and beef jerky. Also, cut down on salt in other foods.
Limit the amount of smoked meat you eat.
Also, watch for meat preserved with nitrite. In Canada, vitamin C is added to reduce the cancer risk in these foods.
Avoid charring or deep browning your food.
Crispy surfaces contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). These are cancer-causing chemicals that come from cooking at high temperatures. If you do want to barbecue your food, cook it slowly, and keep food as far from hot coals as possible.
What else can I do to protect myself?
Include more of vitamins E, C, A and beta-carotene in your diet. They are known as antioxidants. They prevent and destroy compounds called free radicals. If free radicals are not destroyed by an antioxidant, they can damage cells and start the cancer process. To get more of these vitamins in your diet, eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, and grain products.
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