No single food can prevent cancer, but the right combination of foods may help make a difference. At mealtimes, strike a balance of at least two-thirds plant-based foods and no more than one-third animal protein. This “New American Plate” is an important cancer fighting tool, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research. Check out better and worse choices for your plate.
Fruits and vegetables are rich in cancer-fighting nutrients — and the more color, the more nutrients they contain. These foods can help lower your risk in a second way, too, when they help you reach and maintain a healthy body weight. Carrying extra pounds increases the risk for multiple cancers, including colon, esophagus, and kidney cancers. Eat a variety of vegetables, especially dark green, red, and orange vegetables.
Folate is an important B vitamin that may help protect against cancers of the colon, rectum, and breast. You can find it in abundance on the breakfast table. Fortified breakfast cereals and whole wheat products are good sources of folate. So are orange juice, melons, and strawberries.
Other good sources of folate are asparagus and eggs. You can also find it in beans, sunflower seeds, and leafy green vegetables like spinach or romaine lettuce. The best way to get folate is not from a pill, but by eating enough fruits, vegetables, and enriched grain products.
An occasional Reuben sandwich or hot dog at the ballpark isn’t going to hurt you. But cutting back on processed meats like bologna, ham, and hot dogs will help lower your risk of colorectal and stomach cancers. Also, eating meats that have been preserved by smoking or with salt raises your exposure to chemicals that can potentially cause cancer.