June is National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month, marking the abundance of local produce available across the U.S., as most regions are experiencing peak growth. The goal is simple: to encourage a daily intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, a richer blend of nutrients. Besides being delicious, the benefits of these foods can be even farther-reaching, including potentially lowering the risk of many types of cancers.
Cancer Prevention & Diet
A nutritious diet and cancer prevention go hand in hand. While no single food is likely to cause or prevent cancer on its own, healthy overall eating habits can decrease your risk. Likewise, poor nutrition and its consequences are believed to be the cause of 18% of all cancers in the U.S.
Fortunately, there’s an abundance of cancer-fighting foods to choose from. As you aim to take in more fresh produce this summer, here are a few nutrient-rich contenders to consider.
- Apples: This fruit is rich in fiber and polyphenols, which help to promote healthy gut bacteria, and may lower the risk of breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and obesity.
- Asparagus: This green vegetable is loaded with flavonoid compounds, which researchers are studying for decreasing breast and bladder cancers.
- Brussels Sprouts: These small, cabbage-like veggies have antioxidants that power up the body’s DNA defense mechanisms. The sulfur-containing glucosinolates are particularly powerful nutrients, and are also the source of this vegetable’s powerful aroma.
- Cherries: It’s believed the melatonin in cherries could help prevent certain types of cancer, including aerodigestive forms (those found in internal areas such as the mouth and esophagus). The fruit also has ample fiber, vitamin C, and beta-carotene.
- Garlic: Versatile and aromatic, garlic can enhance the flavor of virtually any dish. Enjoy it regularly to reap the benefits of allium compounds, which are believed to help boost the immune system.
- Kale: There’s a good reason leafy greens are so widely touted. Kale, in particular, is rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, and folate — nutrients which help to prevent damage from cancer-causing free radicals.
- Strawberries: A warm-weather favorite, strawberries are nutrient powerhouses, with agents such as fiber, vitamin C, tannins, and phenolic acids that help reduce the risk of aerodigestive cancers.
- Spinach: This leafy green has long been hailed as a superfood, thanks to phytochemicals, beta-carotene, fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin A — all of which can help reduce cancer risk.
- Tomatoes: Enjoy tomatoes for a good source of lycopene, a plant nutrient high in antioxidants. It’s believed lycopene could reduce the risk of lung and prostate cancers.
- Winter Squash: When the summer season is over, this hearty additive to soups and stews is loaded with carotenoids — the pigments responsible for bright reds, yellows, and oranges in plants. More than just a pretty color, carotenoids also serve as an antioxidant with the ability to help reduce cancer.
While this list gives a glimpse into some of the more powerful fruits and vegetables that can help fight cancer, it’s by no means exhaustive. Virtually all types of produce may have one health-promoting benefit or another. Enjoy them to the fullest while many are at peak season, but use this month as an opportunity to consider incorporating this cornucopia of fresh foods year-round.
Concerned about your cancer risk, regardless of what you’re consuming? At Heartland Imaging, we offer a range of diagnostic imaging services to help doctors catch and treat diseases no matter what the season. Schedule an appointment online or call (502) 429-6500.
Heartland Imaging is a full-service imaging center in Louisville, KY, dedicated to providing consistent, quality, state-of-the-art outpatient imaging services. With locations in Louisville and Elizabethtown, our professionally trained and board-certified radiologists offer affordable medical imaging without compromising expertise or a compassionate experience.