Tag Archives: Fruits and Vegetables

Fresh and Fast Salad for Cancer Prevention

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

healthy-greens-1369011-sAt CancerPreventionDaily, our commitment is to sustain hope and provide tools that help you take specific steps to stay healthy and reduce cancer risks. Today, I’d like to share with you our cancer prevention salads – it’s fresh and fast!

Ingredients and Recipes

Step 1: Mix the following ingredients together.

  •  lettuce
  •  arugula (unique flavor)
  •  tomatoes
  •  mushrooms
  •  potatoes (pre-cooked in cubes)
  •  eggs (hard-boiled and diced)
  •  raisins or craisins
  •  sunflower seeds

Step 2: Add your choice of salmon/tuna or chicken.

Step 3: Sprinkle some dill over the salad, along with 1-3 table spoons of olive oil (depending on the amount). Then add salt, pepper and salad dressing to your taste.

Variations

  • Use tofu for protein.
  • Use watermelon or grapes as alternatives of antioxidants, lycopene, vitamins.
  • Use almond or walnuts as nuts alternatives.
  • Use chives or basil as herb alternatives.

Although most of the veggies I described here were right from our vegetable garden, there are plenty of veggies or fruits that are tasty and nutritious.

The Principles of Cancer Prevention Salad

  1. Start with green veggies: Spinach, lettuce or Romaine lettuce, Broccoli, or combination.
  2. Build on colors (so-called “Rainbow”): Tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, or carrots. Fruits such as watermelon, peach, orange or grapes are welcome mixers.
  3. Include protein: Chicken or fish (e.g. salmon, tuna). In addition, beans, eggs (hard-boiled then sliced or diced), nuts and seeds can be good choices for vegetarians.
  4. Mix with cancer-fighting ingredients: Avocado, olive oil, minced garlic, or even lemon. Red wine vinegar or freshly-ground pepper can also be used.
  5. Garnish with healthy herbs: Basil, chives, rosemary or your favorites, fresh or dried. They go with the above salad components easily. Don’t have herbs? Sprinkle a few pieces of green onions.
  6. Remember raisins ─ a tasty trick! Otherwise, add grapes for natural sweetness – much healthier than synthetic sweeteners and sugar.

The bottom line is – summer salads are refreshing and easy with a nice variation. Importantly, they contain immune boosting and cancer-fighting nutrients.

 

Image credit: by MeiTeng

How Fiber Protects You Against Colon Cancer: New Evidence

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

You’ve heard that consuming enough fiber can protect you from colon cancer. Do you know why? Today, I’d like to help you understand why fiber could be your secret weapon to fight colon cancer, based on some new research evidence.

Fiber in ColonThe top secret: It’s in a receptor termed G-protein-coupled receptor 109A (GPR109A), as outlined in this schematic illustration. The question is how it plays a role in colon cancer. In other words, how does this receptor, GPR109A, carry out the mission?

First, GPR109A is a tumor suppressor, which means it protects a cell from its progression to cancer, just as a brake in a car. It is located on the colon epithelial cells, the cells covering the surface of your gastrointestinal tract (and of course, other cavities in the body). Like other receptors, GPR109A needs the binding of a ligand (i.e. a lock and key contact) to form a biochemical complex then subsequently alter the receptor conformation and cellular function.

Next, what is the ligand (the key) for GPR109A (the lock)? In this case, GPR109A recognizes not only nicotinate / niacin but also butyrate, a product from bacteria fermentation of dietary fiber.

Now, let’s focus on butyrate.

When butyrate binds to GPR109A, the activation of this receptor triggers a signaling pathway that can set off –

-    the immune cells in the colon to produce anti-inflammatory molecules.

-    the same immune cells to communicate with T-cells, a group of specialized defenders to fight different germs and infections and to strengthen your immunity.

-    the epithelial cells to produce and release cytokines. Cytokines are proteins that regulate immune system and adaptive immune responses.

Here is good news – these events happen only in the colon! So, if you consume plenty of fiber-rich foods, with the aid of good bacteria in the colon to digest them, you’ll have a sufficient supply of butyrate.

This provides one more reason why fiber-rich foods promote your colon health. Collectively from research findings, plant-based foods’ intake has been inversely associated with the risk of colon cancer. A higher intake of vegetables has also been associated with a lower risk of colon cancer.

Niacin also activates GPR109A, which might explain why other nutrients such as niacin (vitamin B3) from plant-based foods has been linked to a reduced risk of colon cancer. Noticeably, niacin has been used as a cholesterol-lowering drug, but serious side effects may occur at a higher dosage, and a prescription from your doctor is needed.

In brief, butyrate- or niacin-activated GPR109A signaling can suppress chronic inflammation and promote cancer prevention. Ultimately, you need plant-based, fiber-rich foods to defend colon cancer.

 

How to Consume Enough Daily Fiber for Cancer Prevention

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Imagine a fiber’s tale. “I am a fiber, and my nickname is “Tough Carb”. Together with my sibling soluble and insoluble kinds, I am largely wrapped up in foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Passing through your body, I bind with fats, help nutrients get better absorbed, move the bulk through the intestines, and promote a faster traffic to eliminate the waste your body doesn’t want. At the end, I still survive – remaining unbroken.”

What a fabulous job done by a “personal healthcare agent”! Well, I have more good news for you – Research indicates that a diet high in fiber can lower colon cancer risk. Specifically, every 10 grams of daily fiber intake reduces the risk of colon cancer by 10%.

Now the questions are how much fiber you need each day and how you can meet your goal to prevent colon cancer? Here I offer 5 meal-strategies that can help you effortlessly incorporate fiber into your daily diet and support the healthier, happier colon.

How much fiber do we need?

It is recommended that we eat 25-35 grams (g) of fiber per day. Sounds impossible or difficult? Don’t worry. A rule of thumb is – consume at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables and 3 servings of whole grains each day. This is based on the fact that fiber is abundant in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, nuts and legumes.

Fiber-rich breakfast ideasHow do you integrate 25-35 g of fiber into your diet on a daily basis?

Here are 5 meal-strategies to get your 25-35 grams each day with ease:

1. Breakfast: Have oatmeal or high-fiber cereal, fiber-rich breads or English Muffins, and more desirable, add fruits.

Breakfast is the most important meal of a day. However, many people skip it. Think about this. A cup of rolled oats (dry) contains nearly 10 g of fiber, and Quaker Instant Oatmeal (3 g of fiber per pack) is also available in all grocery stores. So, if you have 2 packages of oatmeal (6 g of fiber), a slice of whole wheat bread (5-6 g of fiber per slice; depending on brands), and add some fruits like berries, bananas or raisins to your cereal or oatmeal (extra 1-2 g fiber), you’ve got a nice jumpstart, and it’s not hard. Plus, a bonus gain – fiber can boost your energy for a fantastic day ahead!

Broccoli_10972132. Lunch: Eat plenty of veggies and beans. Use whole wheat or whole grain bread to make your sandwiches. Have an apple as a part of salad or desert. Broccoli, one of anti-cancer foods, holds a good supply of fiber; 4.0 g per ½ cup (raw), 5.0 g in 4 spears (frozen) and 9.3 g per cup (fresh, cooked). Beans and fish (esp. salmon) are also excellent protein sources to replace animal meat.

3. Dinner: Eat whole-wheat pasta, brown rice or potato (with skin), plus a variety of vegetables and olive oil. Add beans to your soup. Do you know cooked black beans contain 19.4 g of fiber per cup? How about whole-wheat pasta with chicken and colorful veggies?

whole-wheat-fig-bar4. Snacks: Take All-bran, Multi-grain crackers or high-fiber bars, fresh or dried fruits, as well as nuts and seeds, when you on the go. Fig is one of the highest fiber sources. Try Nature Bakery’s Whole Wheat Figgy Bars or Whole Wheat Blueberry Figgy Bars, they are individually-wrapped, delicious, and reward you another 2-4 g of fiber (2 g fiber per serving, 2 serving per pack). (But I’m not paid for “Ads”. :) )

5. Drinks: Drink more fruit/Veggie juice (fiber-rich) or soy milk (1-1.5 g of diary fiber in per 8 oz cup). See Martha Stewart’s recipes of making delicious green juice at home, which are affordable too.

Eventually, it’s your choice to include foods you desire. But the key is to eat a lot of fiber-rich foods (i.e. plan-based food).

Some folks consider that healthy foods taste boring, especially those from the grocery stores. I sympathize that, and the fix is – to get fresh fruits and vegetables from your local farmers’ market; those foods are yummy and refreshing!

As a final note, a balanced, fiber-rich diet is not the only tool to prevent colon cancer; exercise should go hand-in-hand with it.

 

Image credit: By aaronsg, quakeroats.com, rachelg, lockstockb, and naturesbakery.com

Smart Sweet Potatoes

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Let’s have a conversation on one of traditional Thanksgiving side dishes – Sweet potatoes

Grilled Swt Potato n Kale_7414329644_4d594e8b09_tFirst, why do I call it “smart”? It’s a cancer-prevention-wise vegetable, period. Here are top 3 benefits of sweet potatoes:

  1. Rich in beta-carotene, a cancer-preventative antioxidant: Sweet potatoes also contain polyphenol antioxidants. Antioxidants can eliminate cancer-causing free radicals and protect our cells from damage.
  2. Rich in fibers: Fibers stimulate intestinal movements and reduce toxin retention for colon cancer prevention.
  3. Good sources of carbohydrates and micronutrients, so they are immune-boosting.

Next, how about we share some healthy cooking and side dishes? Here are some tips:

-  Instead of deep-frying, bake sweet potato fries.

-  Instead of canned yam, roast sweet potato and turnip cubes – sprinkled with dill (or parsley); or grill sweet potato slices/chunks mixed with green onions.

-  Instead of having sugar- and fat-rich desserts, bake a sweet potato cake with cranberries and walnuts (or pecans, whatever desirable) – taking advantage of its natural sweetness, which can also be served as a side dish.

As an alternative to the well-known mashed sweet potatoes, there are a variety of recipes out there, such as:

  • Cinnamon sweet potatoes with vanilla
  • Garlic-thyme sweet potato rounds
  • Apple cider glazed sweet potatoes
  • Grilled sweet potato with wilted kale salad (as photo shown)

Just by mentioning a few, it makes me mouthwatering… Need more sweet potato recipes? Check Better Home & Garden or Food.com.

Finally, we all look forward to Thanksgiving dinner, should we consider –

  1. Easy and stress-free preparations
  2. Healthy food, yet tasty, delicious, and gorgeous looking (if possible)
  3. Important – Memorable time?

 

Photo credit: By Tasty Yummies