By Contributor Janet Brancato, MS, RDN
Three small diet changes may protect from colorectal cancer by 80% according to a new study presented at the European Society for Medical Oncology 19th World Congress on Gastrointestinal Cancer. The researchers presented information suggesting that including fish, and fruit, while limiting soft drinks are important key dietary benefits for colorectal health. Making each one of these 3 healthy changes is associated with a little more than 30 % reduced risk related to advanced, pre-cancerous colorectal lesions, compared to those not choosing these Mediterranean diet habits. The study found that those who adopted all three dietary changes benefitted by an 86% reduced odds occurrence.
Colorectal cancer has been linked with a low fiber diet, that is also rich in red meat, alcohol, and other high calorie foods, according to Naomi Fliss Isakov, PhD from Tel-Aviv Medical Center, in Tel-Aviv, Israel. Even though the Mediterranean diet has been linked with reduced rates of colorectal cancer, the key dietary elements have not been clear-cut.
The study included questionnaires from 808 people who were in the process of getting screened using diagnostic colonoscopies. Researchers were able to find details of each of the participant’s diets prior to the screenings. The participants were between 40-70 years old, without high risk of colorectal cancer, and each was given a food frequency questionnaire to complete. The Mediterranean diet components that were highlighted in the study included, consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fish, poultry, and a high ratio of monounsaturated fats (examples include: olive oil, avocado, nuts, and seeds). In contrast they were looking for diet patterns lower in red meat, alcohol, and soft drinks (sugary soda).
Researchers found that those with advanced polyps (abnormal growth of tissue) included less components of the Mediterranean diet. Adopting even 2-3 aspects of the Mediterranean diet was associated with ½ the odds of the advanced polyps. The more the Mediterranean diet was followed the stronger the benefit.
Researchers narrowed the nutritional recommendations to high fish and fruit intake with low soft drink consumption as the best combination for reduced incidence of these polyps.
Easy ways to enjoy fish
Try some creative and flavorful ways to include fish 2-3 times per week for beneficial omega 3’s, and high quality protein. Here are some delicious toppings for fish that will enhance the taste and nutritional intake: (add before baking in the oven 350 degrees)
- Chopped Kalamata olives with chopped tomato, garlic, onion, and olive oil
- Squeeze lemon, chopped rosemary, chopped thyme, garlic, and olive oil
- Pesto with a drizzle of olive oil
- Chopped tomato, oregano, basil, parsley, and olive oil
- Dill, chopped shallots, lemon juice, and olive oil
- Mix Dijon mustard with a drizzle of honey