Teach Me

Seasonal Vegetables Pack A Cancer Prevention Punch


Buying vegetables when they’re in season is great for a budget, but getting a sweet deal on some of nature’s biggest cancer fighters makes for an even better value. This fall, Christi Kirk, registered dietitian at Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center in Gilbert, suggests you load your plate with these healthy vegetables, which are full of anti-cancer phytochemicals.

Go cruciferous

Broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are fall vegetables containing indoles and glucosinolates, compounds that are particularly helpful for breast cancer prevention. But watch overcooking, which can bring a bitter taste and zap these important nutrients. “These vegetables are best steamed … you don’t want to boil them,” Kirk explains.

Squash cancer

Pumpkin, acorn squash, Chayote squash and butternut squash are fall vegetables with high levels of soluble fiber, which is great for blood sugar control and cholesterol reduction and has long been tied to reducing the risk of colon cancer. Easy preparation makes them even more attractive. “These can all be cut in half and baked in the oven,” Kirk adds.

Salad additions, roots

The link between obesity and cancer has been a prominent area of research for some time. To help maintain weight, add waistline-friendly endives such as radicchio and Swiss chard to any salad. The cabbage-looking radicchio gives a slightly spicy taste to dishes. Swiss chard is a leafy green and an excellent source of magnesium and vitamins A and C.

“With all these you’re talking about a low-calorie, low sodium food that helps you feel full,” Kirk says.

Kirk also recommends eating root vegetables such as sweet potatoes and turnips, which are high in antioxidants and bring color diversity to a plate.

“A lot of meals miss those deep orange foods. … The different colors bring different phytochemicals and health benefits,” Kirk notes.

By Brian Sodoma
Cancer Nutrition