What you eat can play a big role in preventing colorectal cancer, with research showing that fiber-filled foods lower risk; red and processed meats increase it. Now a study hones in on how diet can affect risk, showing that swapping a high-fiber healthy diet for a low-fiber western-style diet alters gut bacteria and signs of inflammation that may play a role in colon cancer.
The study is published in Nature Communicationsand it adds to a growing body of research on how our bacteria – our microbiota – play a role in cancer risk.
For the study, researchers flipped the diets of 20 African Americans and 20 South Africans for two weeks. All the participants had colonoscopy exams before and after the diet swap.
The Americans were served African-style foods, almost quadrupling their fiber intake to an amount equal to over 3.5 cups of beans. At the same time, they cut their calories from fat in half. Africans went the opposite direction, dramatically cutting their fiber and upping their fat intake.
After two weeks on the African diet, the Americans had less markers of inflammation in the colon while those same markers increased among the Africans eating the less healthy diet. There were also opposing increases and decreases of the compound butyrate, which forms from digesting fiber and is linked to lowering colon cancer risk. The American group was producing more butyrate; the Africans on the American diet less. Continue reading →
In honor of St. Patrick’s Day and the arrival of Spring, try our new cancer-protective recipe that will make your burritos green.
Beans and Greens Burritos are green in color and environmentally friendly (because they’re meatless). These burritos have only 120 calories each yet 6 grams of cancer-fighting fiber. Lightly cooked, collard greens have large leaves that are soft enough to chew yet firm enough to hold the black bean, brown rice and corn stuffing.
Including dark leafy greens in a meal once a day is a terrific health booster. Cook tougher greens like collards, kale, chard or spinach by steaming them or putting them in soups, stews and sauces. Expand your salads with arugula, watercress or baby spinach. You’ll get cancer-preventive carotenoids like lutein, plus calcium, potassium and some iron.
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One of our latest recipes, Chickpea and Butternut Squash Fritters, is a restaurant-quality vegetarian dish that uses a unique combination of healthy cancer-preventive ingredients.
A lot of people are familiar with chickpeas in the deep-fried chickpea balls called falafels. But they are usually high in fat and calories. Chickpeas themselves are naturally low in fat; nutty and buttery-tasting. Like all legumes, they provide protein, vitamins, fiber and minerals that make them a staple in dishes ranging from Indian channa masala to Middle Eastern hummus.
Butternut squash is also rich in fiber as well as the antioxidant phytochemical beta-carotene, another cancer-preventive compound. The other ingredients – green onions, garlic, sage, cumin and red pepper flakes – taste great with the nutty chickpeas and subtly sweet squash and offer their own phytochemicals. Add the egg and whole-wheat flour and you get perfect fritters. Continue reading →