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Increasing Fruits and Vegetables in Your Diet

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The Power Of Plant Based Diets
Evidence suggests that eating a plant-based diet, being physically active, and staying at a healthy weight throughout life can help reduce your cancer risk. Many convincing studies show that eating more fruits and vegetables offers the best protection from cancer, and may even reduce the risk of cancer coming back after treatment. Strive to get at least 2 to 3 cups of vegetables and 1½  to 2 cups of fruit each day. Eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables.

What’s the secret behind fruits and vegetables?
Vegetables and fruits are complex foods containing beneficial vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other substances that may help to prevent cancer. Evidence that eating fruits and vegetables may reduce cancer risk has led researchers to look closely at the components in these plant foods. Researchers believe that compounds found in plants, called phytonutrients, are important players in helping to protect against cancer. Studies have shown that antioxidant phytonutrients help reduce cellular damage caused by normal body metabolism. This damage is also linked to environmental toxins, radiation, pollution, and aging.

No phytonutrient acts as a “magic bullet” by itself. And there is no evidence that phytonutrients taken as supplements are as good for your long-term health as the vegetables and fruits they come from. That’s why eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in a wide range of colors is a good defense against cancer.

How much, how often?

How many servings of fruits and vegetables are necessary to ward off cancer? While there’s no definitive data, experts believe that at least 2½ cups of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables daily is needed. As noted above, even more is recommended for cancer survivors. Eat your fruits and vegetables fresh, frozen, canned, dried, or juiced, just as long as you eat them. Don’t wait for meals, but eat them as snacks during the day, too. You may be surprised by how easy it is to get the recommended amounts!

Balancing a plant-based diet

Besides eating lots of fruits and vegetables, don’t forget to include whole-grain products such as breads, cereals, rice, or pasta in every meal. Be careful to choose those that are whole grains and limit your intake of refined carbohydrates, including pastries, sweetened cereals, and other high-sugar foods. Regardless of the label on the package, always check the ingredients. If the main ingredient is a whole grain, it will always appear as the first ingredient. “Seven-grain” bread, “wheat” bread, and other similarly named products often do NOT have whole wheat, or any other whole grain listed as the first ingredient, so be on your guard.

When you eat meat, select lean cuts and small portions (4 oz. or about the size of a deck of cards or your fist). Limit how much red meat (beef, pork, and lamb) you eat and choose fish, poultry, or beans instead. Substitute skim milk for whole milk, low fat yogurt for ice cream, and 100% fruit juice with seltzer for soft drinks.

Remember, staying at an ideal body weight is one of the best approaches to reducing your risk of many cancers. And don’t forget: Exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle.


Para solicitar información en español, llame al 1-800-227-2345. Un especialista en información sobre el cáncer le asistirá en español.

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