Anti-cancer diet made simple

NAP-06 Special.inddThere has been an explosion of research in the area of nutrition for cancer prevention and prevention of cancer recurrence since 2005. From these studies a great deal of information has been gleaned about how to approach an anti-cancer diet. Most of the findings show that a diet that focuses on plant-based foods reduces the risk of cancer and recurrence.

What are plant-based foods?

Plant-based foods include:

  • vegetables
  • fruits
  • whole grains
  • legumes
  • beans
  • nuts and seeds

Not only do these foods provide an array of cancer-protective compounds, but a predominantly plant-based diet is also rich in fiber and water. This results in a feeling of fullness without supplying a lot of calories. Being satisfied with fewer calories is a powerful tool in weight management, which is one of the most important things you can do to reduce your risk of cancer and cancer recurrence.

How do I start eating a plant-based diet?

The answer is simple: start using the “New American Plate” method. This is a simple but very effective way that helps you visualize making the right choices at each meal.

Each time you fill your plate, start thinking of it as four parts of a pie. Two pieces of the pie should be filled with fruits and/or vegetables. The other two parts of the pie should be divided evenly between meat, legumes or beans, and grains such as pasta, rice or bread. Choose whole grain products such as brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, couscous and bread instead of white bread, rice or pasta. When choosing meat, look for lean cuts of meat and prepare them with little added fat by baking, broiling or grilling them instead of frying or sauteing them. If you are working for weight loss, try to choose more vegetables over fruits and minimize any high calorie additions such as sauces, cheese or butter. Try to work in some vegetarian meals that include legume, beans, nuts or seeds in place of meat a few meals per week.

Taking the first step

Even if you still love fried chicken and macaroni and cheese and you’re not yet ready to make the change to healthier options, still try this method. If you make half your plate fruits and/or vegetables, with the fried chicken and macaroni and cheese taking up only half of your plate, you already reduced fat and calories to help you achieve a desirable weight and you increased your intake of anti-cancer rich nutrients at the same time.

Learn more about nutrition and cancer prevention


NAP-06 Special.inddRegistered dietitians who are specially trained in the field of oncology nutrition provide cancer nutrition services at the Comprehensive Cancer Center. They focus on assessing the individual dietary and nutrition needs of each patient and providing practical, scientifically sound assistance.



CCC 25 years button150x150The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center’s 1,000 doctors, nurses, care givers and researchers are united by one thought: to deliver the highest quality, compassionate care while working to conquer cancer through innovation and collaboration. The center is among the top-ranked national cancer programs, and #1 in Michigan for cancer patient care. Seventeen multidisciplinary clinics offer one-stop access to teams of specialists for personalized treatment plans, part of the ideal patient care experience. Patients also benefit through access to promising new cancer therapies.