Written by Jana Nalbandian, ND
More great news about the Mediterranean diet! We know a diet high in fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds along with fish lower your risk for heart disease and diabetes. Now cancer prevention can be added to the long list of health benefits with eating a nutrient rich Mediterranean style diet. A recent meta-analysis (combining 16 studies) indicates that olive oil in high amounts can decrease the risk of breast cancer. They have identified a component of olive oil that can cause the death of cancer cells and inhibits cancer growing pathways.
We already know that a diet high in fruits and vegetables, a major component of the Mediterranean diet, provide a rich source of cancer preventing nutrients including lycopene in tomatoes, glucosinolate and indol-3-carbinol in cruciferous vegetables and the anthocyanins in fruits to name a few. Along with fruits and vegetables, the major source of protein in the Mediterranean diet comes from fish high in omega-3 oil, with minimal intake of agricultural red meat. The diet tends to be low in refined carbohydrates including sugars and processed foods.
So what does this mean for the average Alaskan? We have an abundant source of omega-3 rich seafood, especially wild Alaska salmon, along with seasonal, locally grown vegetables including greens. Instead of your typical clear/polyunsaturated oil (they are carcinogenic), switch primarily to olive oil for cooking and dressings. Eat 5-7 servings of vegetables and fruit a day along with 1-2 servings of complex whole grains or yams/sweet potatoes, nuts and seeds (unroasted and unsalted) and lean proteins with a focus on seafood. To top it all off, resveratrol found in red wine is a strong anti-oxidant that may reduce the risk of cancer by inhibiting cancer cell growth when drank in moderate amounts. Bon Appétit