Cancer prevention diet tip #5: Prepare your food in healthy ways.
Choosing healthy food is not the only important factor. It also matters how you prepare and store your food. The way you cook your food can either help or hurt your anti-cancer efforts.
Here are a few tips that will help you get the most benefits from eating all those great cancer-fighting foods, such as fruit and vegetables:
– Eat at least some raw fruits and vegetables. These have the highest amounts of vitamins and minerals, although cooking some vegetables can make the vitamins more available for our body to use.
-When cooking vegetables, steam until just tender using a small amount of water. This preserves more of the vitamins. Overcooking vegetables removes many of the vitamins and minerals. If you do boil vegetables, use the cooking water in a soup or another dish to ensure you’re getting all the vitamins.
– Wash all fruits and vegetables. Use a vegetable brush for washing. Washing does not eliminate all pesticide residue, but will reduce it. Choose organic produce if possible, grown without the use of pesticides or GMOs.
– Flavor food with immune-boosting herbs and spices. Garlic, ginger, and curry powder not only add flavor, but they add a cancer-fighting punch of valuable nutrients. Other good choices include turmeric, basil, rosemary, and coriander. Use them in soups, salads, casseroles, or any other dish.
Tips for avoiding carcinogens:
Carcinogens are cancer-causing substances found in food. Carcinogens can form during the cooking or preserving process, mostly in relation to meat, and as foods start to spoil. Examples of foods that have carcinogens are cured, dried, and preserved meats (e.g. bacon, sausage, beef jerky); burned or charred meats; smoked foods; and foods that have become moldy. Here are some ways reduce your exposure to carcinogens:
– Do not cook oils on high heat. Low-heat cooking or baking (less than 240 degrees) prevents oils or fats from turning carcinogenic. Instead of deep-frying, pan-frying, and sautéing, opt for healthier methods such as baking, boiling, steaming, or broiling.
– Go easy on the barbecue. Burning or charring meats creates carcinogenic substances. If you do choose to barbecue, don’t overcook the meat and be sure to cook at the proper temperature (not too hot).
– Store oils in a cool dark place in airtight containers, as they quickly become rancid when exposed to heat, light, and air.
– Choose fresh meats, ideally organic and grass-fed, instead of processed meat that has been cured, dried, preserved, or smoked.
– Avoid foods that look or smell moldy, as they likely contain aflatoxin, a strong carcinogen. Aflatoxin is most commonly found on moldy peanuts. Nuts will stay fresh longer if kept in the refrigerator or freezer.
– Be careful what you put in the microwave. Use waxed paper rather than plastic wrap to cover your food in the microwave. And always use microwave-safe containers.