Some Veggies Are Better At Preventing Cancer Than Others—Here Are The Ones To Put On Your Plate Today

mbg Associate Health Editor By Darcy McDonough, M.S.
mbg Associate Health Editor
Darcy is the associate health editor. She has a master’s degree in nutrition interventions, communication, and behavior change from the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.

Photo by Nataša Mandić

We all know that vegetables are healthy, but are some healthier than others? New research, published in the International Journal of Cancer, found that consuming certain fruits and vegetables may lower the risk for breast cancer.

Analyzing dietary information and health data from 182,145 women followed for an average of 24 years, researchers found that those who consumed the most fruits and vegetables had the lowest rates of breast cancer, especially the most aggressive forms. In fact, women who ate five and a half servings of fruits and vegetables per day had an 11 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer than women who ate less than two and half servings. Meaning: The more fruits and veggies women ate, the better.

Interestingly, the research does also show that not all vegetables are equal when it comes to cancer-protection properties. Cruciferous veggies (like cauliflower and kale) came out on top, as well as orange and yellow ones (think sweet potatoes and squash), for reducing risk. Although researchers are not sure of the exact mechanism, they believe these vegetables, along with others, may work by inhibiting tumor initiation and growth. They also credit the high micronutrient, antioxidant, and fiber content of fruits and vegetables for their beneficial effects.

If you're not already eating the recommended amounts of fruits and veggies, you may want to start loading up on them sooner rather than later. Researchers found that it took about eight years of regular consumption to see a significant reduction in breast cancer risk.

Considering breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, with over 237,000 new cases in America each year, this research provides important confirmation that simple lifestyle changes can make a big difference.

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