Cancer prevention diet tip #4: Choose your fats wisely
A major benefit of cutting down on the amount of meat you eat is that you will automatically cut out a lot of unhealthy fat. Eating a diet high in fat increases your risk for many types of cancer. But cutting out fat entirely isn’t the answer, either. In fact, some types of fat may actually protect against cancer. The trick is to choose your fats wisely and eat them in moderation.
1. Fats that increase cancer risk – The two most damaging fats are saturated fats and trans fats. Saturated fats are found mainly in animal products such as red meat, whole milk dairy products, and eggs. Trans fats, also called partially hydrogenated oils, are created by adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid and less likely to spoil—which is very good for food manufacturers, and very bad for you.
2. Fats that decrease cancer risk – The best fats are unsaturated fats, which come from plant sources and are liquid at room temperature. Primary sources include olive oil, canola oil, nuts, and avocados. Also focus on omega-3 fatty acids, which fight inflammation and support brain and heart health. Good sources include salmon, tuna, and flaxseeds.
Tips for choosing cancer-fighting fats and avoiding the bad
a) Reduce your consumption of red meat, whole milk, butter, and eggs, as these are the primary source of saturated fats.
b) Cook with olive oil instead of regular vegetable oil. Canola oil is another good choice, especially for baking.
c) Check the ingredient list on food labels and avoid anything with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, which are usually found in stick margarines, shortenings, salad dressings, and other packaged foods.
d) Trim the fat off of meat when you do eat it, and avoid eating the skin of the chicken.
e) Choose nonfat dairy products and eggs that have been fortified with omega-3 fatty acids.
f) Add nuts and seeds to cereal, salads, soups, or other dishes. Good choices include walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, hazelnuts, pecans, and sesame seeds.
g) Use flaxseed oil in smoothies, salad dressings, or mixed in snacks such as applesauce. But do not cook with flaxseed oil, as it loses its protective properties when heated.
h) Limit fast food, fried foods, and packaged foods, which tend to be high in trans fats. This includes foods like potato chips, cookies, crackers, French fries, and doughnuts.
i) Eat fish once or twice a week. Good choices include wild salmon, sardines, herring, and black cod. But be conscious of mercury, a contaminant found in many types of fish.