Foods to prevent cancer
Obesity, physical exercise and the food they eat… of all the factors which affect your child’s health now and into their adult life, these are the most important. And as a parent, you can positively affect all three by setting the habits which govern your child’s behaviour.
This article will tell you which foods can help prevent cancer, as well as how much of each food your child should eat, how much benefit they can expect to get from it and – most importantly – how you can encourage them to eat it.
Top them up with tomatoes
Tomatoes are one of the richest sources of lycopene, a cancer-busting antioxidant which, studies show, prevents lung, cervix, prostate and mouth cancer. And yes, tomato sauces are just as good for you as the fresh versions! In fact, a study from the Harvard School of Health found the antioxidants in tomatoes cooked in oil (like in tomato pizza bases and pasta sauces), were more easily absorbed by the body than fresh ones. Eating any kind of tomatoes seven times a week reduces cancer risk by 20 per cent. They can be added to literally anything, so throw them in salads, sarnies, on pizzas or in pasta dishes.
Go the whole hog
Wholewheat, found in wholemeal bread, brown pasta and rice, and some cereals, minimises the production of oestrogen, which is a known promoter of breast cancer. Researchers discovered that eating three or four portions of wholewheats each week decreases your chance of breast cancer by 17 per cent. However, if your kids are fans of the white stuff, make a sandwich with a slice of white and a slice of wholemeal (just put the brown one on the bottom). They also won’t notice what colour their pasta or rice is if it’s covered in sauce, so sneak some wholewheats in that way, and give them cereals like Kelloggs Shredded Wheat Bite Size or Nestlé Cheerios.
The future’s orange
Oranges contain compounds called limonoids (they give citrus fruits their bitter taste), which have powerful anti-cancer properties. Researchers at the University of California found children who ate oranges four to six times a week during the first two years of their life had a 50 per cent reduced risk of developing all types of cancer when they were older. Chop them up for a quick, easy snack at home (satsumas, clementines and mandarins also count) or pop one in their lunchbox each day.
Slip them a strawberry
A study from the Harvard School of Health found that people who eat strawberries have a whopping 70 per cent lower incidence of all types of cancer. They only need a cupful (about five or six average-sized strawberries) once a week. Again, they make a great snack on their own (ditch the cream!) or you can cut them up and sprinkle them on cereal.
Broccoli cuts your risk of bladder cancer by 44 per cent if you eat more than two portions a week, according to a recent study from Harvard University. Another study from Georgetown University found that it contains a chemical that boosts DNA repair in cells and stops them from becoming cancerous. What’s more, previous studies showed that it also helps stave off ovarian, stomach and lung cancer.
Popeye knew what he was on about…
Over the years researchers have found at least 13 different compounds in spinach that function as anti-cancer antioxidants. It’s also a great source of vitamin C and beta carotene, both of which are potent antioxidants. Studies show people who eat two or three servings of spinach a week are considerably less likely to get lung or breast cancer, so add it to stir fries and salads.
Getting the benefits of milk’s calcium content will reduce your risk of colon cancer by 36 per cent, say researchers at The Dartmouth Medical School. Toddlers need around two glasses of milk each day, whereas four to eight-year-olds need about three glasses each day. Yoghurts, leafy green veg and cheese also contain lots of calcium so get your kids tucking into these too.
Children who eat bananas three or four times a week have a significantly reduced risk of developing leukaemia, say researchers from the University of California. Another study discovered that women who eat four to six bananas (which are laden with antioxidants) a week , cut their risk of kidney cancer by 54 per cent. Again, pop one in their lunchbox, or slice them up for a good finger snack.
Get into garlic
Garlic has three different ways of protecting against cancer, according to researchers at the Loma Linda University School of Medicine. Firstly, it inhibits the growth of tumours. Secondly, it prevents the reproduction of cancer cells and thirdly, it boosts the immune system, which makes it more efficient at fighting cancer cells. About two cloves a week reduces your risk of breast cancer by a whopping 54 per cent. Crush it up and slip it into soups, casseroles and pasta sauces and they won’t even notice the difference.