Diet and Nutrition

The NSW Cancer Council has developed five guidelines for a diet that will minimise cancer risk. These guidelines are designed for adults of all ages in reasonably good health. However, while they offer no guarantee against cancer to an individual, there is strong evidence that their widespread adoption would reduce cancer incidence and mortality rates.

 

  • Enjoy a balanced diet rich in vegetables and fruits

  • Eat a variety of wholegrain cereals, breads and pastas

  • Maintain a healthy weight and be physically active

  • Drink alcohol in moderation if at all

  • Select foods low in salt and fat

Fruit and Vegetables

It goes without saying that a healthy diet is more beneficial than an unhealthy one. A healthy diet includes the minimum amount of recommended fruit and vegetables, which includes at least 2 serves of fruit and 5 serves of vegetables daily. But what is one serve?

 

One serve of vegetables can be made up of the following:

 

  • ½ cup cooked vegetables

  • 1 cup of salad

  • ½ cup legumes e.g. soy beans, lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans

  • 1 medium potato

 

One serve of fruit can be made up of the following:

 

  • 1 medium sized piece of fruit e.g. apple, pear, orange, banana

  • 2 small pieces of fruit e.g. apricots, plums, kiwifruit

  • 1 cup fruit salad or canned fruit pieces

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of sultanas or other dried fruit

  • 1/2 cup (125mL) of unsweetened juice

 

So why are fruit and vegetables so good? They are rich in fibre, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. The combination of these anti-cancer agents make fruit and vegetables more effective than if these agents were ingested alone. They also help fight cancer indirectly as they are low in kilojoules, so they help maintain weight, which is crucial for preventing and fighting against cancer. 

 

 

How to Include Fruit and Vegetables in your Meals

 

Planning and preparations are the ways to success. Plan a weekly menu before you go grocery shopping. You don't need to completely include new meals in your plan either. Simply adding some vegetables to your normal pasta is enough. Try grilling vegetables on the BBQ by arranging it onto a skewer. Always include a salad with every meal, and always have at least three vegetables with your steak or chicken.

 

When cooking vegetables, don't forget to lightly season! This will greatly increase the taste of your vegetables. Also refrain from deep-frying or completely blanching the vetetables (most of the nutrients gets caught in the water). Instead, try grilling or sauteing as this still leaves the vegetables with a slight crunch - this means they are closer to their natural state, and therefore more nutritious.

 

Also, try and buy canned fruit and vegies. They have a longer shelf life, and are often of a better quality than fresh produce, as they are picked at the optimum time.

 

What about Organic?

Although organic produce has been shown to have high vitamin C levels and lower nitrate levels, there is no conclusive evidence to show that this is a benefit to fighting cancer. There are many reasons why people choose organic, including better taste and flavour, avoidance of genetic modification, avoiding environmental impacts and personal preference. However, organic produce is more expensive and can contribute to more waste due to a shorter shelf life. Regardless, it is recommended that you wash and fruit and vegetables before cooking or consuming, in order to remove any residual pesticides.

 

Eating Wholegrain Foods

Wholegrain is much better than white bread. It provides better fibre, which ensures a healthier digestive system. Other foods high in fibre also include fruit and vegetables, nuts and legumes (peas, lentils, and beans). The Cancer Council recommends at least two serves of wholemeal foods everyday.

But what is a serve?

 

One serve of wholemeal or wholegrain foods equals:

  • 2 slices of wholegrain bread

  • 1 medium wholemeal bread roll

  • 1 cup of cooked brown rice, pasta or noodles

  • 1 cup of cooked porridge

  • 1 1/3 cups of wholegrain breakfast cereal

  • ½ cup of untoasted muesli

 

Select Foods Low in Salt and Fat

Diets high in salt increase the risk of stomach cancer. Many processed foods are high in salt with consumption rates particularly high among young men. Diets high in fat increase the risk of obesity and this increases the risk of endometrial cancer. Diets high in saturated fats possibly increase the risk of colorectal, lung and prostate cancers, although the evidence is not at all conclusive. For good health and to reduce the risk of obesity, it is advised that people limit their saturated fat intake and opt for limited use of mono and polyunsaturated fats.