Can eating "super foods" prevent cancer?

5:22 PM, Jun 1, 2011   |    comments
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By Kay Quinn, Healthbeat Reporter

St. Louis, MO (KSDK) - Green tea, garlic, broccoli, even coffee.  We've all heard of so-called "super foods" that are supposed to fight off disease.

On this week's "8 Ways to Prevent Cancer" segment, we look at whether eating them can prevent cancer.

"There's a lot of research going on looking at different foods and components in different foods and how they interact with your body in order to prevent cancer or cause cancer," says Dr. Bettina Drake with the Siteman Cancer Center.

Those components are the micronutrients often found in the most colorful foods.  Isoflavones found in soy, polyphenols in green tea, lycopene in tomatoes.  Eat these, and you boost your chances of staying healthy.

But what about preventing cancer?

"There's not just one food that people should eat a lot of in order to protect themselves from cancer," says Dr. Drake.

That's right.  No single food or micronutrient can keep you from getting cancer.  But medical science believes eaten together, plant-based foods can interact to boost your chances of staying healthy.

"What we recommend is that people eat a variety of fruits and vegetables in order to prevent cancer including also whole grains," says Dr. Drake.

When it comes to protein, stick to fish and chicken. Stay away from saturated fats and highly processed foods. Eat red meat in moderation.

The bottom line: try to avoid weight gain.

"If you're trying to prevent cancer in general, I would stick with a variety of foods," says Dr. Drake. "It's fun to eat a variety of foods and so we can do that in terms of preventing cancer."



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