Eat fresh, lay off the fat
A healthy diet rich in veggies and fruits aid in cancer prevention
By Gremlyn Bradley-Waddell
A healthy diet is important for cancer prevention but there are no magical foods that do it alone.
Instead, says Heather Metell, eating right in order to ward off cancer starts with a plant-based diet comprised of a diverse number of whole foods – eaten fresh when possible – with limits on fats, refined and processed foods and one’s intake. It’s sound advice for everyone, she adds.
“The best foods come without a wrapper,” says Metell, executive chef at Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center and Banner Gateway Medical Center in Gilbert. “The fewer steps there are in preparation of the food, the lesser the chance that the nutrients are going to be damaged.”
So, choose an apple, not an apple-flavored pastry. Speaking of apples, eat all the fruits and vegetables you want, she says, including the “superfoods” from the cruciferous family, broccoli and kale. In fact, she says, veggies and fruits should take up most of the plate.
“We need to make meat more of a side dish,” Metell says, adding that if you must have meat, spend more for the higher-quality, grass-fed and responsibly raised variety, or when buying fish, opt for wild-caught versions. By eating less of it, she adds, pricier types won’t be as much of an economic impact.
Increasing one’s fiber intake by eating more whole grains is also a smart move. Metell advocates quinoa, wheat berry and barley in addition to brown rice. And while she doesn’t expect folks to go cold turkey and give up butter, she encourages lightening up on saturated fats and substituting with products like avocado and olive oils.
Finally, don’t get sabotaged by what she calls “portion distortion,” as typified by steakhouses serving 10-, 12-, and 16-ounce cuts.
“We don’t need that much protein,” she says.
A portion should be about as big as your fist. To combat portion distortion, use a smaller plate and drink a glass of water before meals. Also, appreciate your food.
“Human beings have a tendency to feed and not dine,” she says. “Remember to ‘consciously eat.’ ”