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Eat wholegrains, vegetables, fruit & beans

A wholesome diet based on plant foods protects against cancer.

One of our Cancer Prevention Recommendations is to make wholegrains, vegetables, fruit, and pulses (legumes) such as beans and lentils a major part of your usual daily diet.

There is evidence that eating wholegrains, fibre, vegetables and fruit can help protect against certain cancers, as well as against weight gain, overweight and obesity.

Eat at least 30g of fibre and at least 400g of fruit and veg each day

There is strong evidence that eating wholegrains protects against colorectal cancer, and that eating foods containing dietary fibre protects against colorectal cancer and against weight gain, overweight and obesity.

Although the evidence for links between individual cancers and consumption of non-starchy vegetables or fruit is limited, the pattern of association and the direction of effect are both consistent. Overall the evidence is more persuasive of a protective effect and that greater consumption of non-starchy vegetables and or fruit helps protects against a number of aerodigestive cancers and some other cancers.

Dietary patterns that are linked to a lower risk of cancer consistently feature high consumption of these foods.

Dietary goals

  • Consume a diet that provides at least 30g per day of fibre from food
  • Include foods containing wholegrains, non-starchy vegetables, fruit and pulses (legumes) such as beans and lentils in most meals
  • Eat a diet high in all types of plant foods including at least five portions or servings (at least 400g or 15oz in total) of a variety of non-starchy vegetables and fruit every day
  • If you eat starchy roots and tubers as staple foods, eat non-starchy vegetables, fruit and pulses (legumes) regularly too if possible

Protective power of plants

An integrated approach to considering the evidence shows that most diets that are protective against cancer are rich in foods of plant origin.

Relatively unprocessed foods of plant origin are rich in nutrients and dietary fibre. Higher consumption of these foods, instead of processed foods high in fat, refined starches (eg white bread or pasta, biscuits, cakes and pastries) and sugars, would mean a diet is higher in essential nutrients and more effective for regulating energy intake relative to energy expenditure. This could protect against weight gain, overweight and obesity and therefore protect against obesity-related cancers.

Read on: Eat wholegrains, vegetables, fruit & beans | World Cancer Research Fund International

The health and medical information on our website is not intended to take the place of advice or treatment from health care professionals. It is also not intended to substitute for the users’ relationships with their own health care/pharmaceutical providers.

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