Tag Archives: Nutrition

Think Beyond Pink for Breast Cancer Prevention: Think Bright Colors

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Diet plays a critical role in a woman’s risk for breast cancer. Daily foods with bright colors are not only appetite-appealing, they can also be quite therapeutic, as research reveals that colorful fruits and vegetables are powerful weapons to fight breast cancer.

Two categories of dietary nutrients with bright colors are fruits and veggies that are red or orange/yellow.

Red grapes_comboThink Red.

Red grapes, red grape-derived products such as grape juice, and red wine are rich in resveratrol, a health-beneficial antioxidant that protect against breast cancer in both animal and human studies. Also, resveratrol offers cardiovascular protection. It’s important to remember that red and dark red grapes contain higher levels of resveratrol than green grapes and red wine.

I love sweet red grapes. I often eat red grapes as a snack or desert and incorporate them in my salads. To enjoy this nutritious red fruit, follow your taste and deploy your creativity.

Think Orange and Yellow.

Carrots bunch_1389068-mFruits and veggies with vibrant orange, yellow, and red colors are rich resources of carotenoids, organic pigments, micronutrients and antioxidants. These foods include carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, and red peppers, plus some greens like spinach and kale. Research shows that eating plenty of these fruits and vegetables can be particularly beneficial for women at risk of non-estrogen-dependent cancer and those with a genetically increased risk for cancer.

More-peppers_580768-mThere are many ways to increase your daily consumption of bright-colored, plant-based foods. You can use them in fresh salads or sandwiches for lunch and prepare steamed or stir-fried veggie dishes for dinner. Whatever way you choose, these healthy treats are quick and easy to prepare, and they are yummy. Similarly, regular ingestion of tomatoes does good to you, because tomatoes are a wonderful source of lycopene, one of carotenoid compounds.

Keep in mind that carotenoid-rich fruits and veggies are low in dietary lipids that facilitate human absorption of micronutrients. Therefore, it’s always wise to consume them with olive oil or avocado (i.e., healthy fat) to improve the carotenoids’ bioavailability.


Not only can a colorful diet of fruits and veggies reduce your breast cancer risk, it can protect you from other major human diseases and positively affect your mental and emotional levels. Just remember: rainbows on your plate help create a healthy rainbow in your life!


Image credits: by redvisualg; DeLaMartre; and awottawa

How to Easily Eat More Cancer Prevention Food

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Easy_amz_41FOnwRk7EL__SY300How much vegetables and fruits do you consume each day? Today many people do not meet the minimum recommendation of 5 servings daily. How can a diet plan impact one’s risk of cancer? After summarizing results from 206 human epidemiologic studies and 22 animal studies, Drs. Steinmetz and Potter emphasize “The evidence for a protective effect of greater vegetable and fruit consumption is consistent for cancers of the stomach, esophagus, lung, oral cavity and pharynx, endometrium, pancreas, and colon.”

If you meet the minimum consumption of 5 servings, what is optimal intake? 7-10 servings (or 4-5 cups) per day, as the experts recommended, in order to reduce cancer risk and maximize non-cancer related benefits such as protection against cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, obesity, and cataracts.

Here are top five tips to help you eat more veggies and fruits with ease:

1. Eat more by including in each meal every day
You might not choose to consume a larger serving for lunch or dinner, but can incorporate various vegetables and fruits in every meal during the day including snacks.

2. See more colors
You know that green vegetables are good, so are tomatoes. Add more colors, e.g. light and dark green, yellow, red, orange, maybe even purple or blue, as popularly described “rainbow on your plate”.
Extra bonus: Colors enhance your appetite, right?

3. Gain variety
It’s great if you consume cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, and bok choy. It would be enormously advantageous if you add allium vegetables. The latter family of veggies include onion, scallions, garlic, chives and leeks, serving as both dishes and tasty seasonings. How about enjoying a variety of berries? such as blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, cranberries …

4. Experience something new or explore a fun recipe 
It’s like a food adventure or health adventure. The point is to find a way to enjoy nutritous eating for your long-term health.

5. Go easy
Nowadays activities or duties are demanding; life is hectic for almost everyone. To manage time and maintain a healthy lifestyle, eat raw veggies, dried fruits or stock up frozen veggies/berries.

What other tips would you like to share?

Top 5 Foods for Oral Cancer Prevention and Why

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Upon looking at the following numbers, you can see why oral cancer should not be taken lightly.

·         Cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx and larynx cause more than 350,000 deaths each year worldwide.
·         35-45% of all cancers can be prevented by lifestyle changes.
·         20-25% of oral and throat cancers have been linked to a poor nutritional diet.

Human studies reveal that a higher fruit and vegetable intake is associated with a lower risk of oral cancer. So, let’s focus on how a healthy diet can help your oral health and prevent oral cancer.

1.      A diet rich in fruits and vegetables
Green vegetables (bok choy, broccoli, sprouts, cabbage, watercress, etc.), citrus fruits and red grapes are rich sources of polyphenols such as resveratrol and quercetin, you can benefit from their cancer protective effects based on their anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antitumor properties. Antioxidants found in these foods can also fight cancer by neutralizing free radicals, preventing DNA damage of cells, and improving your immune system’s response.

2.      A diet high in plant-based foods (those beyond fruits/veggies)
Foods like whole wheat, whole grain breads and cereals, brown rice, legumes (beans, lentils), nuts and seeds are high in protein, high in fiber, but low in animal fats, which can lower the risk of oral cancer. Animal proteins from red meats and some dairy products can mess up hormonal functions, modify enzyme activities, and induce inflammation, consequently creating an acidic environment for cancer to grow.

In addition, plant-based foods are also low in calories, which can help you maintain a healthy weight. Research has shown that a plant-based diet not only reduces the risk of developing cancer, but also improves survival after the diagnosis.

3.      Olive oil
Intake of olive oil (rich in monounsaturated fatty acid and antioxidants) can facilitate the absorption of fat soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, D and E, which is why your veggie salad provides more nutrients and benefits for your body when topped / mixed with or sautéed in olive oil. Studies reveal that olive oil intake has been associated with lowered risk of oral cancer.

4.      Water and/or tea (unsweetened) as the best beverage to drink.
Water, especially filtered water, is critical to your health, diluting any toxins and sugar intaken with your food. Avoid alcohol intake and limit sugar-rich soft drinks. Sugar is fuel for cancer, a supplier for bacteria, and a decay-causing provider for your teeth, leading to poor oral health.

5.      Nutritious but low-sugar snacks
Snacks such as raw vegetables, dried fruits, plain yogurt, low-fat cheese, nuts, or a firm fruit – an apple, offer nutritional, anti-cancer values by adding more antioxidants and fibers with less fats and calories.

Overall, a diet high in fruits, vegetables and plant-based foods has profound benefits for reducing the risk of oral cancer and for oral health. These foods can help prevent cancer, as well as help fight cancer after you have been diagnosed.  

Remember: Of equal importance are good oral hygiene (daily brushing and flossing your teeth) and early detection by routine dental exams.

Image Credits:  nkzsAlexandru MitreaDaniel Gilbey, and lockstockb

Cancer Got a New Name – Numbers of Human Toll and Economic Burden

“Cancer’s human toll, in terms of suffering and death, is tragic and largely preventable.” Also, cancer is the world’s top “economic killer” and likely the leading cause of death, according to a new report from the American Cancer Society presented at 2010 World Cancer Congress in China (Aug. 18-21).

The following figures illustrate cancer costs globally and nationally:

“We now know that without immediate intervention, the burden of cancer will grow enormously in low- and middle income countries, with demands on health care systems and economic costs that are more than these developing economies can bear,” said John R. Seffrin, PhD, CEO of the American Cancer Society.

The good news is that approximately 40% of cancers are potentially preventable – a message from the International Union Against Cancer (UICC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The question is: Is there any way to fight cancer at a lower economic cost?

Cancer prevention by daily nutrition through a healthy diet is, at least, one effective strategy that can be put into action by individuals in a broader population with less economic burden.

Think about it. What do you do to your body? What does the environment do to your body? And what does the society promote (fat, fast food,…)?

“Sow melon, reap melon; sow beans, reap beans.” ─ Chinese Proverb

A Cancer-protective Salad ─ How to Combine Beneficial Foods I’ve Discussed

Creative Cancer Prevention Salad_CPD2A Cancer-protective salad is a colorful salad on sight, composed of immune boosting foods and cancer-fighting antioxidants. Here I show you how to prepare it:

  1. Use green leafy veggies as basis: Spinach or Romaine lettuce or combination.
  2. Build on colors: Broccoli, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, or carrots. Fruits such as peach, orange or grapes are welcome mixers.
  3. Include protein: Chicken or fish (e.g. salmon). 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. Don’t forget raisins ─ a tasty trick! Alternatively, add grapes for natural sweetness, much healthier than synthetic sweeteners and sugar.

You might say, oh, I know this … I eat them… Surely, many people know it, but amazingly many more people load their salads with processed red meat, cheese, unhealthy fats/dressing, and much worse — salt. Knowledge without action is powerless.

Again, here are the key differences that make this salad cancer-protective and delicious.

  1. Cancer-fighting synergy from various foods
  2. Rich fiber diet ─ an aid to reduce risks of cancer and heart diseases
  3. Wise substitutions in ingredients
  4. Healthy cooking and preparation

Bonus ─ a lunch to dinner recipe: By adding whole wheat pasta into it, the colorful dish turns into your time-saving dinner with heart-healthy and cancer-protective benefits!

Photo credit: by http://www.freeimages.com/photo/salad-1317825 & CPD

Green Leafy Vegetables Help Reduce Cancer Risks

Research shows that eating plenty of fruits and vegetables has been associated with reduced risks for several cancers. Fruits and vegetables contain a wide variety of potential cancer-inhibitory nutrients and antioxidants. Today, let’s just focus on dark green leafy vegetables.

Dark green leafy vegetable family includes the following members commonly available on the market:
* Spinach
* Kale
* Collard Greens
* Mustard Greens
* Swiss chard
* Romaine Lettuce
* Bok Choy

Key cancer protective factor
Dark green leafy vegetables are rich in folate, a group of water-soluble B vitamins.

Key role in cancer prevention
Folate’s primary function is to maintain DNA integrity. Free radicals generated by sunlight, cigarette smoke, air pollution, infection, toxins, and metabolism constantly attack our DNA and cause much of the damage. Without DNA repair, damaged cells can develop into cancer. Folate keeps up DNA stability by regulating DNA biosynthesis, repair and methylation.

Let me explain a little bit more about DNA methylation. Plainly speaking, it involves the addition of a methyl group to DNA structure. DNA methylation patterns go wrong in cancer, often causing tumor-suppressor genes to switch off; which occurs in common cancers in the United States, such as colon, lung, prostate, and breast cancer.

Accumulating evidence indicates that inappropriate diet may contribute to one third of cancer deaths. Folate deficiency has been implicated in the development of several types of cancer, including cancer of the colorectum, breast, ovary, pancreas, brain, lung and cervix.

Key sources for safe intake
To safely and effectively increase folate intake, you should consume dark green leafy vegetables, and other naturally folate-rich foods like asparagus, strawberries, and legumes. Supplements are not preferred, as recent studies indicate that an excessive intake of synthetic folic acid (either high-dose supplements or fortified foods) may promote human cancer.

So, eat a lot of green leafy vegetables every day. They are loaded with cancer protective phytochemicals, antioxidants and nutrients. Also, you enjoy other health benefits beyond cancer prevention.

How do you incorporate dark green leafy vegetables into your daily diet?

Photo credit: By mahr; By jonsson; and By Sultry

Tomatoes and Tomato-rich Diet on Cancer Prevention

Tomatoes are loaded with a wide variety of nutrients and antioxidants, delivering a broad range of health benefits… What you can take away from this post is how to maximize its cancer prevention potential through an easy, tasty diet.

Lycopene found in tomatoes is a strong antioxidant, and has been suggested to function as a protective factor against prostate cancer. Also, there is controversy raised over “Lycopene or tomato extract reduces prostate cancer risk”. Thus, the impact of tomatoes on prostate cancer risk holds no established promise for now.

However, there is a large body of evidence — that a diverse diet rich in fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of prostate cancer, as well as that of other cancers.

Countless combination of tomatoes with fruits and veggies can serve you a heart healthy and cancer prevention diet. Here I share a very simple one based on my own experience – fresh tomatoes and basil leaves from the homegrown garden.

The dishes you can make:
1. Tomato basil salad
2. Tomato basil pasta
3. Tomato basil soup
4. Tomato basil sauce
5. Tomato basil pasta salad (my favorites — whole wheat pasta, Farfalle pasta)
6. Add shrimp or chicken to tomato basil dishes.
7. Add other colorful veggies or healthy ingredients to tomato basil dishes or sandwiches.
You’ve got the idea….

To make it delicious and healthy, certainly mix the dish with such ingredients as olive oil, garlic, or lemon juice, but little or no salt.

Tip: Basil herb is better used fresh in cooked dishes, either as marinate or garnish, or toss — add at the last moment, as cooking dissolves its flavor.

Remember, one nutrient alone won’t help you combat any cancer. The key is to regularly consume a variety of nutrients and antioxidants from natural food sources, as the overall benefits of a fruit-vegetable-rich diet on cancer prevention are validated.

How often do you eat tomatoes? What’s your favorite recipe with tomato? We appreciate it if you share.

Photo credit: by topfer

The Immune Boosting Properties of Yogurt

Yogurt_213406_7960Go into any restaurant or watch any commercial for a kitchen cleaning product, and enemy number one will be bacteria. From fear of ingesting these microscopic critters, we want them as far from our food as humanly possible. But did you know all bacteria are not bad? In fact, strains found in yogurt can actually help you by boosting your immune system. On top of that, yogurt’s non-bacteria components can also assist the immune system. Here’s a look at both.

Bacteria components:

Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) are commonly used in yogurt production. In the finished product, these bacteria must be alive and in substantial amounts. Sounds scary? Not really when they strengthen your immune system.

LAB in yogurt are healthy bacteria, which keep the gastrointestinal tract free of disease-causing germs. In particular, they can increase body metabolism, promote digestive functioning, and facilitate bowl movements. Lactic acid bacteria can decrease pH in the colon lumen and change the intestinal micro-ecological environment. Increased amounts of LAB in the intestines can suppress the growth of pathogenic bacteria, thereby contributing to reduction in infection.

Yogurt’s bacterial components play an important role in the immunostimulatory effects of yogurt. Frequent consumption of yogurt can power up the body’s immune response, which then stimulates white blood cells such as lymphocytes and macrophage, resulting in the events like destroying cancerous growth and/or ingesting cancer cells.

Non-bacteria components:

Yogurt is a nutrient-rich food containing high-quality protein, vitamins (especially folic acid), and trace elements, all of which are necessary for maintaining optimal immune response. Although milk and yogurt have similar vitamin and mineral compositions, calcium is more bioavailable from yogurt than from milk. Calcium can strengthen the immune system too.

The association with cancer prevention:

It’s a complex subject. In general, yogurt’s beneficial bacteria, any compounds produced by the friendly bacteria found in active yogurt cultures, and other nutrients in yogurt may positively influence the immune system, making it harder for cancer cells to survive.

Just make sure to consume the yogurt high in protein but low in fat, sugar and calories.

Photo credit: by LotusHead

What’s in Colorful Berries for You?

Berries_2746572505_797146afd7_mBerries (such as blueberry, cranberry, blackberry, raspberry, and strawberry) are known for their antioxidant power. They contain a number of healthful compounds including vitamins A, C, E and folic acid, selenium, calcium, phytochemicals such as polyphenols. By consumption of berries, you can enjoy diverse health benefits — from preventing cardiovascular disorders, age-related degenerative diseases and inflammation, to improving brain functions and eye health.

How about minimizing cancer risks? Studies from numerous cell culture and animal models, in vitro and in vivo, have demonstrated berries’ anti-cancer properties using berry extracts or constituents. Although certain phytochemicals in berries (i.e. antioxidative potentials) contribute to cancer suppressive action, a novel, key ingredient for berries’ cancer fighting effects is the compound called anthocyanin(s), which also give berries’ natural, vibrant colors.

Anthocyanins play a role in reducing malignant transformation of cells. They exert anti-carcinogenic effects in the following ways:
1. Regulate carcinogenic attack and enhance the removal of carcinogens;
2. Protect DNA integrity via a decreased DNA binding of carcinogens and inhibition of oxidative damage to DNA;
3. Suppress inflammatory processes via alternating cell signaling pathways;
4. Inhibit tumor invasiveness and metastasis via the induction of cell death at various stages of cancer progression.

Sounds promising, doesn’t it? Surely, berry anthocyanins are your supporters in promoting human health and disease prevention. Evidence is still needed for the anti-cancer effect in human studies. While edible berries serve as a source of natural anthocyanin antioxidants, cancer-fighting properties in each group of berries may vary, and you need to acquire more accurate information on health benefits that can be expected from different berry products.

The bottom line:
1. Consume berries regularly. Eat fresh and frozen ones.
2. Mix berries with your cereals, shakes and juices. A combination of various berries has their health benefits maximized over an individual berry.
3. Do take precautions about manufactured and/or concentrated berry powders on the market.

What’s your favorite berry or berries? How do you include berries in your healthy diet?

Photo credit: by love♡janine

The Cancer Prevention Power of Olive Oil

697352_oliveoil w-treeDo you use olive oil to dress your salads? Or for light sautéing? It not only tastes great, but has many health benefits. While many folks know olive oil is healthy, not everyone knows why it’s good, particularly in terms of lowering cancer risks, and not everyone incorporates it into their cancer-fighting diet. Olive oil and unsaturated fats, which are typical ingredients in the Mediterranean diet, have been proven to reduce the risk of several cancers.

Let’s take a look at how powerful olive oil is.

The healthful components in olive oil:

1. Monounsaturated fats: Healthy fats help reduce cancer risks. They also lower bad cholesterol (LDL) levels and raise good cholesterol (HDL) levels, thereby preventing heart disease.

2. Polyphenols: Powerful antioxidants neutralize harmful free radicals, and reduce oxidative stress and DNA damage, potentially helping to combat degenerative diseases including cancer.

3. DHPEA-EDA: In virgin olive oil, it may constitute up to half the total antioxidant contents in the oil. DHPEA-EDA can protect red blood cells from oxidative damage that these cells are particularly sensitive to.

The impact of olive oil on cancer prevention:
Extra virgin olive oil might possess anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferative, and anti-apoptotic effects. Experimental studies provide new evidence that olive oil has the potential protective effects against cancer of colorectal, breast, and upper digestive tract.

Olive oil contains monounsaturated fats and is rich in polyphenols. Olive oil helps lower cancer risks. Other benefits include protection against heart attack, stroke, osteoporosis, cell aging, ulcers, and even gallstone formation.

Final note:
Virgin and extra-virgin olive oils may contain higher levels of polyphenols (powerful antioxidants) compared with processed or refined olive oils. Consuming Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a part of a healthy diet, but as with most foods, moderation is important. Good fat is still fat and all types of fat are high in calories.

How do you consume olive oil in your daily diet? We’d like to hear it!

Photo credit: by Seda Inal