Fruits and vegetables contain anti-cancer substances (such as anti-oxidative effects) which reduce the risk of cancer through stimulating the manufacture of enzymes that detoxify cancer causing chemicals. They also block the chemical effects of cancer causing compounds and enhancing the immune system. Cancer therefore can be viewed as a result of deficiency of fruits and vegetables in the diet.
Plant based nutrients (phyto-nutrients) such as flavonoids and carotenes not only protect us from cancer – amongst their many effects, they exhibit powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties. These nutrients are responsible for the colors in fruits and vegetables. So try to eat a variety and ensure there is a rainbow of natural color in your diet!
Care needs to be taken in how we take in these nutrients as well as the wealth of vitamins and minerals present in fruits and vegetables. And take care to avoid the negative aspects natural foods, the foremost being pesticides and pollutants as well as unfairly traded products such as coffee and chocolate.
ORGANIC AND FAIR TRADE
Buy organic produce, especially of the vegetables that contain high pesticide levels. More information can be found from the Environmental Working Group who produce an excellent guide to this: http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/
Industrial processing and Fair-trade
- Popular foods such as bananas, chocolate, coffee and sugar are grown using chemicals to enhance plant productivity
- These chemicals also cause pollution which cause environmental and body health damage and possibly interfere with nutrient and phyto-nutrient content and bio-availability
- Big industry does not look after its small farmers and growers, and often places them in modern economic or social slavery.
- Buy organic and fair-trade where possible to change industry practices.
Vegetables provide the broadest range of nutrients and phyto-nutrients, especially fiber and carotenes, of any food class
Eating raw is the best way to preserve nutrients and phyto-nutrients in the highest concentrations as these are either destroyed by heat or leeched out into cooking water and lost. Thus juicing or making smoothies with raw vegetables is an excellent way to both preserve these nutrients and also absorb them. The next best way to eat vegetables to preserve nutrients and phyto-nutrients when cooking them is through light steaming, baking or stir-frying.
Some vital phyto-nutrients, such as the carotenes Lycopene and Lutein, are better absorbed from cooked foods
Cabbage family vegetables contain the most anticancer phyto-nutrients of all vegetables
HERBS AND SPICES
Volatile and health promoting oils in nearly all herbs and spices are quickly lost due to heat or grinding – as far as possible, ensure whole seeds are bought and ground seeds and herbs are added near the end of cooking (grinding can be done with a pestle and mortar or coffee grinder)
Tea made from spices such as fresh Ginger, Cinnamon, Cardamom and an Umbelliferae spice such as Fennel are excellent for digestion. Tea made from Mint is excellent for soothing the stomach and nerves
Mint often has high amounts of pesticide so choose organic
Haas, E. (2006). Staying Healthy with Nutrition. Berkeley, Ca. Celestial Healing Arts.
Murray, M. (2005). Encyclopedia of Healing Food. New York, N.Y.: Atria Books