Healthy eating habits can help reduce cancer risk

By Shweta Mahadik

It is no secret that a healthy lifestyle can help reduce the risk of cancer in many ways. Research shows that many types of cancers are linked to lifestyle behaviours, including unhealthy eating patterns and a lack of physical activity. A healthy lifestyle can also help positively support treatment and recovery if you are diagnosed with it.


  • Include fruits and vegetables such as oranges, berries, pineapple, sweet lime, lemon, amla, broccoli, cabbage, collard greens, kale, cauliflower and brussels sprouts, etc. Add whole-grains such as whole wheat, oats/oatmeal, rye, barley, brown rice, millets, high-fibre foods, vegetables, and legumes (beans) to your plate.
  • Consume good amount of protein like cow’s milk and its products, legumes, pulses, whole grains, egg whites, poultry and fish.
  • Eat foods rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids like fish, especially oily fish (sardine, mackerel, tuna, salmon, herring, trout), almonds, walnuts, and flaxseeds. Prefer cooking methods such as broiling, boiling, stewing, grilling, baking, roasting rather than frying.


  • Antioxidants: Antioxidants protect cells from damage caused by free radicals known as ‘unstable molecules’. Some of the examples of antioxidants include Beta-Carotene, Lycopene, Vitamins C, E, and A, etc.
  • Omega 3 rich foods: Omega-3 PUFAs present in nuts, oilseeds, flaxseeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, fish like salmon, tuna, and herring etc., plays an essential role in cell signalling and in the cell structure and fluidity of membranes. They participate in the resolution of inflammation and have anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive effects
  • Garlic: Some clinical studies found that regular consumption of garlic in our diet helps with DNA repair, slow the growth of cancer cells and decrease inflammation as garlic is rich in Allicin i.e. soluble Allyl Sulphur compounds which is responsible for many cancer-fighting properties. Several functional foods showed anti-cancer activity via scavenging free radicals e.g., garlic, broccoli, green tea, soybean, tomato, carrot, cabbage, onion, cauliflower, red beets, cranberries, cocoa, blackberry, blueberry, red grapes, prunes and citrus fruits.
  • Bitter melon: Bitter melon is a widely consumed vegetable all over the world that comprises of several bioactive components such as Polyphenols, Flavonoids & Saponins, and has been reported to possess anti-cancer potential.
  • Wheat Bran: Wheat Bran is abundant in a variety of healthy phytochemicals such as phenolics, flavonoids, glucans and pigments and has been observed to evince noticeable anti-cancer activity.

Apart from diet, it is important that cancer patients maintain a healthy weight, increase physical activity, make healthy food choices, and stay happy in mind and body.

(Shweta Mahadik is Dietitian, Fortis Hospital, Kalyan)

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