Oncologists know that if you prevent cancer, you don’t have to figure out how to cure it. Here are their own favorite dishes.—Curtis Pesmen
The older you get, the more important it is to eat right. While there is no guarantee of perfect health, medical researchers today have gotten more and more information about what foods are best for keeping you lean, mean, and cancer-free. So we spoke to some top-notch doctors about the types of foods they eat to have the best possible health. And while you're boosting your diet, don't leave The 10 Best Foods for Your Brain off your shopping list.
1. The Save-Your-Butt-Breakfast
“I call this ‘happy colon food,’ and it has lots of cancer-fighting elements,” says Mark Lane Welton, M.D., chief of colorectal surgery at Stanford University Hospital in Palo Alto, California. “I get ¼ cup of steel-cut oats plus ½ cup of old-fashioned oats. (Steel-cut are the least processed oats; they have the entire oat kernel and a chewier, nuttier texture than the old-fashioned, which are rolled flat.) I start with 2½ cups of boiling water. I add the steel-cut oats, cooking them for 15 minutes, then add the old-fashioned oats and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Next, I add ¼ cup each of oat bran and flax bran. (Flax is one of the only plant sources of those heart-healthy omega-3 fats. It’s also been shown to boost the immune system.) I add 3 cups of water to the pan, then a handful of nut mixture: sesame seeds, pistachios, maybe a few cashews. Finally, I add either fresh or dried blueberries for the antioxidants and vitamins. If you can eat good gloppy oatmeal for regular breakfasts, you can afford to eat like crap one or two other days.”
2. The Stay-Lean Lunch
“I’m a burger or bowl-of-chili-and-a-salad guy,” says Jordan Berlin, M.D., clinical director, gastrointestinal oncology at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Clinic, in Nashville. “They have a lot of protein and fiber. My big thing is getting five to nine fruits and vegetables in me every day, and I believe fresh is best for prevention.” For more great nutrition advice, here are The 40 Unhealthiest Foods if You’re Over 40.
3. The Lifesaving Supper
“At a restaurant, I’ll always go for the fish,” says Robert LaPorte, M.D., radiation oncologist at Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers, in Denver. “The omega-3 fatty acids in fish have well-documented heart- and blood-vessel-protective effects, and in lab tests, they have lately exhibited some intriguing anticancer properties against cancers of the breast, colon, and prostate. I don’t eat much processed meat, and I try to stay away from pastries and cookies as much as possible because they are high in fat and simple sugars.”
4. The Fat-Busting Snack
“The key to eating well boils down to avoiding life’s daily little temptations,” says Mark S. Litwin, professor of urology and researcher, UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, in Los Angeles. “To avoid fatty, sugary snacks, I keep a drawer full of foil pouches of tuna for when I get the munchies.” For more great ways to eat healthy, here are 10 Painless Ways to Upgrade Your Diet.
5. Dishes from The Diet Book to Bank On
“I try to follow the South Beach Diet because, unlike [some low-carb diets], it distinguishes between good fat and bad fat,” says Nicholas DiBella, M.D., oncologist, Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers, in Aurora, Colorado. “For me, that means I eat lots of shellfish, other seafood (for the omega-3 fats), and nuts because of the monounsaturated fats they contain. My lunch is usually a turkey sandwich, an apple, and a slice of low-fat cheese. I eat a lot of lean, lean beef—roast beef and lean cuts of steak with the fat trimmed off.”
6. The Beef To Avoid
“There are very few absolutes in my lifestyle, enjoying red meat among them,” says Charles Fuchs, M.D., epidemiologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, in Boston. “But I don’t eat it frequently. No more than once a week in our house. The suggestion that charred or heavily cooked grilled meat can expose people to carcinogenic amines is worth following.”
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