Picture a banquet of orange and green foods. It might contain sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupes, pumpkins, squash, spinach, broccoli, zucchini, kale, and collard greens, to name just a few. When you include these in your daily diet, you’re building a strong defense against lung cancer. All vegetables and fruits do the job, but green and orange vegetables and fruits, which are high in carotenoids, have been shown to decrease lung cancer risk in both men and women, smokers and non-smokers. In addition to beta-carotene, it is believed that the vitamin C and folate they contain may be the muscle behind their strength. Despite some ambiguity regarding which specific nutrient deserves the credit, there is consensus that vegetables and fruits cut lung cancer risk.
With Big Gulp sodas and supersized fries on the menu, many of us eat far more than our parents did. If you want to nourish your body, you’ll want to indulge in these about as often as birthday cake. But when your appetite is big, why not supersize your vegetable serving? Don’t reach for a jumbo hot dog, which will fill you with fat and other cancer-promoting ingredients. Grab a veggie-burger and pile it up with fresh tomatoes, lettuce, onions, or even some sautéed spinach. Try chunky, baked potato wedges, a large slice of melon, or a big glass of vegetable juice. You certainly don’t have to cut back on flavor, variety, or even portions when you choose the right foods.
Not only are fruits and vegetables important in preventing lung cancer, they also improve the prognosis if it strikes. In Hawaii, nearly seven hundred men and women with lung cancer were asked about their dietary habits in the year before their diagnosis, their history of tobacco use, and other lifestyle and environmental conditions.
Survival clearly improved with the increased consumption of certain fruits and vegetables. If particular components of vegetables and fruits can prolong survival in patients with lung cancer, you can imagine how industriously these little nutrients work on you (and in you) every day. All you’ve got to do is eat up! It’s the most cost-effective and enjoyable step you can take.