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10 fruits & vegetables to help keep cancer at bay

6 may 2013 | yours.ie

We Irish like to think that we enjoy a healthier diet than our counterparts in America, however a quick visit to your local Fast Food joint may blow this assumption out of the water. The American Institute for Cancer Research estimate that 1/3 of cancer deaths in the US can be attributed to diet.

vegetables wok

While the Irish Cancer Society cannot say that eating certain vegetables will prevent cancer, they will say that eating a range of fruit and vegetables, together with a healthy lifestyle will reduce your risk of developing cancer.

We all know that a good diet is important to our overall health and well being. We also know that if we want to stay healthy, we cannot leave it in the lap of the Gods. We have to put down the packet of Tayto, ration the chocolate, turn off the television and get our bums off the couch!

Red fruits and berries

Berries, cherries and red grapes are all nutrient dense. They contain a type of flavonoid that is both an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory. Eat them ‘naked’ (the fruit not you!) or blended up in a smoothie for a real treat. Most parents will tell you that it is very easy to get kids to eat these little beauties, however they will also tell you that you have to be more inventive to get your kids to eat the following cancer-busting veg!

red fruits berries

cruciferous vegetables

Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, mung beans, brussell sprouts and watercress are all members of this unpopular club. ‘Cruciferous vegetables’ contain glucosinolates which break down in the body to form anti-cancer substances. One inventive parent told us that they arranged their children’s veg (peas, cauliflower & carrots) into an Irish Flag on the plate and gave a treat to each child who ate the flag.


Studies show eating garlic has cancer protective effects. Boosting immunity, it acts as an antioxidant and inhibits the proliferation of cancer cells. Some of garlic’s key enzymes are unstable and heat can ruin them. To reap the benefits you can add it uncooked to dressings, dips, soups and sauces.


5 portions per day

For years we have been told we need to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables per day. These can be fresh, tinned (in natural juice or light syrup), frozen or dried, which should make it very achievable for most of us. But don't forget, there is no magic bullet in the fight against cancer. We know that eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of regular exercise and looking after our mental health will keep the doctor at bay.

After all, isn’t that what our Grannies were telling us for years?

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