Colorful Fruit and Vegetables Protect Against Cancer

The holiday season is an excellent time to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet, according to a recent statement from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The season’s produce is chock full of important vitamins and minerals, and even cancer-fighting properties. Apples, for instance, contain a nutrient that protects the cell’s DNA from damage that could lead to cancer. Enjoying apples regularly may also stave off mouth, throat, lung and possibly breast cancer. Another seasonal favorite, the cranberry, contains benzoic acid, which may inhibit lung and colon cancer and some forms of leukemia. Other bright-colored vegetables to include in your diet this season are beets, carrots and parsnips.

In general, the more vibrant and brightly colored vegetables contain a higher level of cancer-fighting nutrients, said Stacy Kennedy, a senior nutritionist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.  To lower the risk of lung, prostate and stomach cancer, fill your plate this holiday season with plenty of dark leafy vegetables such as brussel sprouts, kale, broccoli, and cabbage.  Orange-colored produce such as sweet potatoes, pumpkin and carrots have been shown to be protective against colon, prostate, breast and lung cancer.

Fruit and vegetables not only are protective against some cancers, but aid in weight management and boost overall health, as well. Recently, more than 150 hospitals agreed to get rid of their deep fryers and increase the amount of fresh produce they purchase. It is part of a larger effort crafted by the Partnership for a Healthier America to encourage hospitals, schools and restaurants to provide more nutritional options to their customers.

Additionally, an increasing number of hospitals and health systems are adding more healthy food options as they seek to align food purchasing decisions with their mission to promote healthy choices in their communities. Earlier this year, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene announced that 32 of the city’s public and private hospitals are participating in a voluntary program to increase healthy options in hospital cafeterias, patient meals and even vending machines. “We have an obesity problem,” said Antonio Martin, chief operating officer of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corp. “It is appropriate for health institutions to be true to their mission and promote healthy eating.”

Hospitals are also under pressure from advocacy groups that point out that there’s a disconnect between hospital’s caring for sick people and serving fries and soda in their cafeterias. You can read more about the recent efforts to offer more nutritious foods in hospitals here.

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