Diet is now believed to be a leading factor in 35 percent of cancer deaths in the United States. Cigarettes and tobacco, by comparison, are blamed for approximately 30 percent. "The science base is very strong that fruits and vegetables are protective for all gastrointestinal cancers and all smoking-related cancers," says Tim Byers. Marion Nestle points out "vegetarians and vegans have one-third to one-half the cancer risk of omnivores." Plant foods containing phytochemicals like carotenoids, vitamins C and E, selenium, indoles, isothiocyanates, flavonoids, phenols, and limonene all appear to be active agents in cutting cancer risk. Recently, lycopene, a carotenoid in tomatoes, has been found to possibly protect against prostate cancer. There are over 200 studies suggesting reduced cancer rates in people who eat more fruits and vegetables. The large Harvard Nursesí Health Study found that "a 20-30 percent reduction in breast cancer risk was seen among women consuming more than one serving of vegetables per day." Meanwhile, Edward Giovannucci, M.D. (of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health), points out that "men who eat red meat as a main dish five or more times a week have four times the risk of colon cancer of men who eat red meat less than once a month."
Healthful dietary choices can make such a big difference! A good diet offers so much more than simply a lower blood cholesterol level at check-up time. "Every bite of vegetables or fruits supplies the body with numerous powerful anticancer substances. Scientists may have a tough time isolating these agents and they may not work individually as supplements, but it is now indisputable that fruits and vegetables exert tremendous anticancer activity," says Dr. Colin Campbell, professor of nutrition and biomedical science at Cornell University.
Letís keep "nutrition talk" simple. Healthy cooking begins with good food choices at the grocery store. Diane and I have two main goals in the following nutrition section. First, to point out the specific food components that we should try to reduce or eliminate from our diet, and second, emphasize those components that we should strive to seek out and add to protect and nourish us.