Food Fight
Krista Rondeau, BSc, Dietitian
When it comes to fighting cancer, vegetables and fruit play an important role. If the only change you made was to eat at least five servings of vegetables and fruit each day, cancer rates could drop by as much as 20 percent. There is convincing evidence that diets high in vegetables and fruit protect against cancer of the colon, stomach, rectum, esophagus, lung, mouth, and pharynx. They probably also protect against cancers of the breast, bladder, pancreas, and larynx.

Why are vegetables and fruit so powerfully protective? The answer lies within the foods themselves. In addition to vitamins and minerals, vegetables and fruit contain thousands of natural substances called phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are chemicals found naturally in plants, many of which contribute to the colours and flavours of vegetables and fruit. Some of the different types of phytochemicals that may have a role in cancer prevention include carotenoids (e.g. beta carotene, lycopene, lutein), vitamins (e.g. vitamin C and E, folic acid), minerals (e.g. selenium), allium compounds (found in the onion and garlic families), and isoflavones (found in soybeans and other plants). Research has shown that the individual phytochemicals are not the “magic bullet” in cancer prevention; rather, it appears these substances work together in complex ways. In fact, recent studies involving supplements of fibre, beta-carotene, vitamin E and other components of food have failed to show a reduced cancer risk.

Focusing on whole foods rather than supplements will give you the greatest chance of consuming beneficial phytochemicals, especially those that have not yet been discovered!

How to make vegetables and fruits a part of your daily routine:

  1. Keep a bowl of fresh fruit on your table or desk.
  2. Have easy-to-grab items on hand to take with you on the go, in the car, in your purse or backpack like apples, pears, bananas, oranges, canned fruit cups, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, dried fruit, grapes or juice packs.
  3. Fruits like sliced bananas, apples, pears and berries are also great for dipping with a low fat fruit-flavoured yogurt or cream cheese.
  4. Add fresh, frozen or canned fruit to yogurt.
  5. Add chopped fresh fruit to canned fruit cocktail to spice up your snack.
  6. Make a nutritious trail mix with pretzels, nuts, whole-grain cereal and plenty of dried fruit like raisins, apricots, cranberries, figs or prunes.
  7. Bake a pierced potato in a microwave at home, school or work.Top it with salsa and low fat sour cream or a creamy low fat salad dressing.
  8. Make hot apple crisp with canned apples and add blueberries or dried cranberries.
  9. Try a new flavour sensation by mixing in cinnamon and sugar on sliced or canned apples.
  10. Have a refreshing glass of spicy tomato or other vegetable cocktail on the rocks.

Adapted from Snack on This! (Charlotte Varem-Sanders, Lakeland Regional Health Authority) and Why Vegetables and Fruit (Alberta Cancer Board).

Mountain Cobbler

1 can (398 mL) peaches, sliced and drained
1 can (398 mL) pears, halves and drained
1 cup prunes, pitted and halved
1 tsp orange peel, grated
1 1/2 cups low fat granola cereal
1/3 cup orange juice

In 6-cup shallow microwave bowl toss peaches, pears, prunes, orange peel and orange juice. Top with granola. Microwave on high 5 minutes. Let stand 2 minutes. Spoon into bowls. Serve with plain yogurt if desired. Makes 4-6 servings.

Join us for Snactivity (brought to you FREE of charge by the Boys and Girls Club and CHR) at 1 pm on Monday, May 10 to find out how to help your child develop healthy eating habits or for Healthy Eating on the Go ($10) at 4:30 pm on Wednesday, May 12 an interactive session on how to feed your family healthfully even when you’re rushed.

Please contact Krista with any questions about nutrition.

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