Healthy plate: Load up on veggies for cancer fight

Detroit Free PressNovember 10, 2010 

When it comes to preventing many diseases, including cancer, most health experts agree that making healthy food choices is a pre-emptive strike.

Registered dietitian and Meijer Healthy Living adviser Tina Miller is part of the Meijer community education team that teaches people how to make healthy food choices. Her focus is on how to prepare healthier foods while keeping those meals cost-effective.

Miller says a common misconception about eating healthy is that it’s more expensive.

“And it will (be) if you buy produce out of season,” she said. “But if you look to those produce products — frozen or canned — that are without a lot of salt and sugar, you can stock up when they go on sale.”

Consuming fresh produce in season — or frozen produce — is a way to increase antioxidant intake throughout the day.

For example, Miller recommends fruit smoothies. Get out the blender, grab a bag of mixed frozen berries and add some low-fat plain yogurt, low-fat milk and perhaps a touch of honey, and you’ve got a cost-effective smoothie.

“The other beauty is that it incorporates berries, which have ellagic acid, says Miller. “There have been some studies that (ellagic acid) deactivated carcinogens.”

Miller advises people to consume large amounts of fruits, vegetables and whole grains that carry antioxidants that fight cancer-causing agents.

One way to do this, she says, is to follow the plate rating recommended by the Washington-based American Institute for Cancer Research, which focuses on awareness of diet and cancer risk. The rating advises that three-fourths of your plate be vegetables.

And when deciding which veggies to choose, consider cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower that are believed to prevent the growth of cancer cells.

Miller suggests eating dark green, leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale, which are good sources of fiber, folate and antioxidants that “mop up free radicals (damaging substances) before they can cause harm.”

And she recommends incorporating veggies into tasty dishes, such as those with pasta.

“Many of us love our carbs and love our pasta,” said Miller. “Making whole-wheat pasta and vegetables is a great thing to do.”

Today’s recipe for Greek pasta makes great use of whole-wheat pasta and canned tomatoes, a terrific source of the antioxidant lycopene. The dish also contains spinach, another winner in the fiber and antioxidant arena. “The dish is simple,” said Miller.

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