While cancer is still a reality in our world — an estimated 1,735,350 new cases will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2018, according to the American Cancer Society — a common misperception is that there is little you can do to reduce your risk. Not so! The truth is that up to 30 percent of cancers are linked to poor nutrition, weight and physical activity. Megan Roosevelt, a Los Angeles-based registered dietitian nutritionist and the founder of HealthyGroceryGirl.com, makes sure her clients know that a healthy lifestyle and diet — in particular, a plant-based diet — can make a big difference in reducing their risk.
It may seem like everyone is talking about plant-based diets these days, but what does that mean, anyway? "A lot heartier than it sounds, a plant-based diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, herbs and legumes and is nutritionally dense with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber," Roosevelt says. "Beans, for example, contain many nutrients that may help reduce the risk of cancer when coupled with an overall healthy diet and lifestyle."
Rich in Antioxidants
Antioxidants are a proven force against free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can harm and destroy healthy cells, and are believed to play a role in cancer development. Consuming an antioxidant-rich diet may help reduce the risk of developing certain diseases, including cancer. Food sources of antioxidants include fruits and vegetables as well as nuts, seeds and legumes.
In particular, beans contain a variety of antioxidants from phytochemicals, which may help protect against cancer by boosting the immune system, fighting inflammation, regulating hormones and protecting against free radicals. Scientists recommend that adults eat 3 cups of beans per week to promote health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases, including cancer, due to their abundance of fiber and antioxidants.
Great for Your Weight
Being overweight or obese is a risk factor for many cancers, including breast, colon, endometrium, kidney, esophagus, and pancreatic cancer, and is connected to as many as 20 percent of cancer-related deaths. It's a no brainer that a balanced diet that includes beans can promote a healthy weight. With their powerful protein and fiber combo, beans help satisfy hunger and provide long-lasting energy, which can help reduce your overall calorie intake and aid in weight loss or maintenance. And with just 100-130 calories per half cup serving, S&W Beans will help fill you up without filling you out!
Packed with Fiber
Numerous research studies link a high intake of fiber to a lower risk of cancer. Beans can certainly do the trick — one serving of S&W Beans provides 6-9 grams. More specifically, the insoluble fiber found in beans keeps things moving through your digestive system, which also helps get rid of potential cancer-causing substances in the colon. In fact, recent studies have linked eating beans to a 17 percent lower risk of colon and rectal cancers and a 16–18 percent lower risk of kidney cancer.
Protein is tied to many health benefits, such as helping fight hunger and aiding in muscle growth and maintenance, but when it comes to cancer prevention, some protein sources may be better than others. Research has tied high consumption of red meat and processed meats (i.e., hot dogs, bacon) with colon cancer. So consider replacing some of these meats in your diet with lean chicken, fish or beans to help reduce your risk, Roosevelt says. Did you know that research suggests eating one serving of beans daily in place of meat may lower breast cancer risk by 15 percent? Plant protein may be especially beneficial in prevention of other cancers, since plant foods, such as beans, have been shown to reduce risk of throat, stomach, pancreas and colon cancers.
Try Roosevelt's 3 Bean Veggie Chili as an easy make-ahead meal packed with nourishing, cancer-fighting ingredients such as beans, garlic, kale and cilantro. For more easy and delicious plant-based recipes with beans, go to swbeans.com/recipes.
3 Bean Veggie Chili
Makes 6 Servings
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 small sweet onion
3 garlic cloves
2 cups vegetable stock (low sodium)
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
4 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons oregano
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 (15-ounce) can S&W Organic black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15.25-ounce) can S&W Organic kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15.5-ounce) can S&W Organic garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups baby kale
Fresh cilantro for garnish
- In a large soup pot, heat coconut oil over medium. Dice onion and garlic; add to the pot, stir and sauté for 5 minutes until onions begin to turn translucent.
- Add the stock, tomatoes and seasoning, bring to a boil; lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Add the beans and kale, simmer for 20 minutes until heated through.
- Serve hot and garnish with fresh cilantro.