Fruit, vegetables and cancer
Did you know that a fibre-rich diet including 2 serves of fruit and 5 serves of vegetables a day can help prevent 2,600 bowel cancer cases per year? Or that eating the recommended servings of fruit and vegetables helps reduce your risk of oesophageal, lung, liver, stomach and some mouth and throat cancers?
Did you know if you’ve had cancer, maintaining a healthy diet can help prevent it from coming back?
How a lack of fruit and vegetables increases cancer risk
Fruit and vegetables are rich in fibre, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals which, in combination, help to reduce the risk of certain cancers. Because fruit and vegetables are rich in nutrients and low in kilojoules, they help maintain a healthy body weight, adding further protection against cancer. Excess fat around the stomach and being obese are well-documented risk factors for some cancers of the stomach, bowel, breast (post-menopause), oesophagus, liver, kidney, gallbladder, pancreas, endometrium, ovary and prostate (advanced).
To find out your cancer risk, take the Cancer Risk Quiz.
Cancer Council recommendations
Cancer Council recommends eating 2 serves of fruit and 5 serves of vegetables every day to reduce your cancer risk.
Find out more about fruit, vegetables and cancer prevention.
Examples of 1 serve of vegetables:
- ½ cup cooked vegetables
- 1 cup of salad
- ½ cup legumes e.g. soy beans, lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans
- ½ medium potato
Examples of 1 serve of fruit:
- 1 medium sized piece of fruit e.g. apple, pear, orange, banana
- 2 small pieces of fruit e.g. apricots, plums, kiwifruit
- 1 cup fruit salad or canned fruit pieces
- 1 ½ tablespoons of sultanas or other dried fruit
- ½ cup (125mL) of unsweetened juice
Tips to reduce your cancer risk:
- Pick up fruit and vegetables as your go-to snacks. Grab an apple or banana, or try raw vegie sticks and dip, corn on the cob, or vegie muffins and pikelets.
- Start early in the day. Add chopped fruit to yoghurt or include legumes, spinach and tomato at breakfast.
- Vegie-boost your meals. Try reducing meat and increasing vegetables on pizza and in curries, stir fries and mince dishes.
- Make simple changes every day. Try adding salad to sandwiches, or having extra vegetables with dinner.
- Visit Healthy Lunch Box for healthy recipes and tips.
- If you’ve had cancer, visit Life after cancer treatment to find out what support is available.