Did you know that you can reduce your risk of colon cancer by eating a colorful plate of fruits and veggies? According to researchers at Loma Linda University in California who analyzed the dietary habits of more than 70,000 people, those who ate a vegetarian diet had a 22% lower risk of colorectal cancer than those who weren’t vegetarians.
In recognition of both National Nutrition Month and National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, the NYC colonoscopy specialist, Dr. Shawn Khodadadian, is offering you a quick guide on how you can add the colors of the rainbow to your diet.
- Incorporate some red. Red foods such as tomatoes, crimson-colored beets and cranberries are excellent sources of vitamin C and folate (vitamin B9). They contain flavonoids and lycopene (the reason behind their red color). Both are antioxidants that promote heart health, good memory, and reduce inflammation as well as the risk of colorectal, lung, prostate and breast cancer.
- Add some orange and yellow. Eating foods with the antioxidant alpha-carotene like carrots, cantaloupe, mangoes and spaghetti squash can help promote eye health, improve your skin and also help your immune system function better. The American Institute for Cancer Research reported on a study that found people with higher blood levels of alpha-carotene suffered fewer deaths from stomach, colorectal and pancreatic cancers.
- Go green. Leafy green vegetables are excellent sources of vitamins A, K and calcium. The darker the green pigment, the more antioxidant beta-carotene it contains — and the more of an immune system boost, and proven anti-cancer agent your body will get. By eating things like spinach and broccoli, you’re improving your bone health as well as regulating blood clotting. One recent study found that eating just over one extra serving of leafy greens a day reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes by 14%. A higher intake of plant-based foods also means a more alkaline diet, which has been tied to lower risk of diabetes.
- Pick blue and purple foods. Foods like blueberries, purple grapes and eggplant help with memory, heart health, and can also decrease your risk for macular degeneration (the leading cause of vision loss). The blue or purple color comes from anthocyanins, which are powerful antioxidants that can help prevent certain cancers like colorectal and esophageal cancer.
- Don’t forget white and tan foods. Even though they’re not technically “colorful,” you shouldn’t skimp on white and tan foods when composing a plate to prevent cancers and promote overall health. White foods, such as yogurt and cheese, contain vitamin D, calcium and phosphorus which promote bone health. Some yogurts also contain probiotics that benefit your digestive and immune systems. Even the National Institute of Health recognizes the anticancer properties of garlic, a member of the allium family of vegetables, and suggests including it in your diet. Whole grain breads, brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa and other tan foods can also help you maintain healthy digestion because they contain high concentrations of fiber. They may also help reduce heart disease and the risk of certain cancers, such as colorectal cancer and breast cancer.
About Dr. Shawn Khodadadian
Dr. Shawn Khodadadian is a best-in-class board certified Upper East Side NYC gastroenterologist (GI doctor). He is a specialist in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions of the gastrointestinal tract, liver, pancreas and gall bladder.
Dr. Shawn Khodadadian
983 Park Ave, Ste 1D
New York, NY 10028