Table Vitamin E in Foods

Sunflower seeds Almonds Oil, safflower Wheat germ Peanuts Oil, canola Oil, olive

Spinach, cooked

Sunflower seeds Almonds Oil, safflower Wheat germ Peanuts Oil, canola Oil, olive

Spinach, cooked

1 tbsp

Data from J. Pennington, 1998, Bowes & Church's Food Values of Portions Commonly Used, 17th ed. (Philadelphia: Lippincott).

• Selenium. Selenium protects the cell walls from free radical damage and enhances the immune system's response with increased resistance to cancer growth. The best sources of selenium include seafood such as tuna fish, meats, eggs, milk, whole grains, and garlic. Supplements are not recommended because of the danger of toxicity with long-term supplementation over 200 micrograms.

Other cancer protectors include foods rich in fiber. Although population studies suggest that people who eat a lot of fiber from grains, fruits, and vegetables have a lower risk of cancer, scientists are unclear if the fiber is the protective nutrient. In addition to the known vitamins and minerals in grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables, these fiber-rich foods contain hundreds, perhaps thousands, of other lesser-known substances called phytochemicals that may protect our health. That's why you want to put more energy into eating a varied diet than wondering which fiber supplement to choose.

For more information about diet and cancer prevention, see the 2007 Diet and Cancer Report by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research (see Cancer in appendix A). A few of the key points of the report include eating mostly foods of plant origin, enjoying at least 14 ounces of vegetables and fruits every day, limiting intake of red meat to 18 ounces per week, avoiding processed meats (like hot dogs, bologna, and pepperoni), limiting alcohol intake, and aiming to meet nutritional needs through diet alone. The report does not recommend dietary supplements for cancer prevention.

Although researchers at one time hoped that high intakes of antioxi-dants from pills would reduce the incidence of some types of cancer, the current evidence is disappointing. Apart from the possibility that vitamin

E and selenium may reduce the risk of prostate cancer (and eye problems such as macular degeneration), several large studies have shown few health benefits from supplemental antioxidants. The studies that drove the hope that antioxidants would protect against cancer came from people who ate lots of fruits and vegetables (and had higher blood levels of antioxidants). Most health professionals today emphasize the importance of obtaining these nutrients from food, not from supplements. Scientists have yet to pinpoint which of the thousands of substances in fruits and vegetables are protective.

So, be sure to eat lots of broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes, and other colorful vegetables and remember that no amount of supplementation will compensate for a fast-food diet low in fruits and vegetables and a stress-filled, health-eroding lifestyle.

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