As Breast Cancer Awareness Month draws to a close, the debate over risk/benefit of mammogram screening grows.

Mammograms do not prevent cancer. They simply detect it. Even if you have had a clear mammogram, there is a lot you can do to make sure that you do not develop any form of cancer. 

There is now a good body of evidence showing the protective effect of eating fruit and vegetables on many common cancers. 

Make one small change
If you just make one small change at a time to improve your health, it can make you less susceptible to developing a chronic illness of any kind.
Prevention is better than cure.

Start today - just add one extra portion of fresh vegetables to your diet every day. Chose the freshest vegetables you can find. If you have a choice, opt for local and organic. Organic vegetables have much lower concentrations of pesticide residues. Pesticides can be harmful to the body and disrupt normal cell activity. Local vegetables have higher concentrations of nutrients because they travel shorted distances and therefore are fresher when they come to our shops. When a vegetable, or fruit, is picked, it immediately starts to lose its vitamin content. For instance, a lettuce can lose up to 50% of its Vitamin C content within an hour of picking. 

Which vegetables are best
The answer to that is any. Some vegetables have been studied in some detail, but simply adding or increasing any vegetable to your diet will be beneficial because you will be getting an increased level of nutrients and micro-nutrients. 

Cruciferous vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables, also known as the brassicas, have been found to provide protection against certain types of cancer. A review of research published in the October 1996 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association showed that 70% or more of the studies found a link between cruciferous vegetables and protection against cancer.

Research has shown that the compounds in cruciferous vegetables decreases cancer risks.
They contain anti-oxidants, particularly vitamin A carotenoids. Anti-oxidants help reduce oxidative stress on the body. Oxidative stress arises when there is an overload of free radicals circulating in the body. (more on this in another blog post).  

What else do cruciferous vegetables contain? 
Cruciferous vegetables contain glucosinolates which are sulphur-containing compounds, along with crambene, indole-3-carbinol and isothiocyanates. Indole-3-carbidol (I3C) has been found to change the way estrogen is metabolized and may prevent estrogen driven cancers. Isothiocyanates stimulate our bodies to break down potential carcinogens (cancer causing agents).  

Learn more about cruciferous vegetables

Which vegetables are brassicas? 

RocketBok choyBroccoli
Brussels sproutsCabbageCauliflower
ChardChinese cabbageCollard greens
Mustard greensRadishesHorse radish
TurnipsWatercress Land cress


Raw cruciferous vegetables contain thyroid inhibitors known as goitrogens.
Isothiocyanates appear to reduce thyroid function by blocking thyroid peroxidase, and also by disrupting messages that are sent across the membranes of thyroid cells.

People who have hypothyroid function should limit the amount of cruciferous vegetables they eat and make sure  they steam or cook cruciferous vegetables rather than eating them raw. Cooking appears to reduce the goitrogenic substances by up to two thirds. 

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