Leafy Greens - Your Allies in the Fight Against Bowel Cancer

Leafy Greens – Your Allies in the Fight Against Bowel Cancer

In a recent groundbreaking study funded by the World Cancer Research Fund, the connection between folate-rich diets and a reduced risk of bowel (colorectal) cancer has taken center stage. Published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the research, led by Dr. Konstantinos Tsilidis from Imperial College London, sheds light on the significant impact of vitamin B9, commonly known as folate, in the fight against one of the most prevalent cancers globally.

The study, which included data from over 70,000 participants, emphasizes the importance of incorporating folate into daily meals, particularly for men, who showed a remarkable 11% lower risk of bowel cancer compared to 6% for women with the same folate intake. Leafy greens, such as spinach, cabbage, and broccoli, stand out as the dietary superheroes, offering a delicious and effective way to fortify your body’s defense against bowel cancer.

Folate, a natural form of vitamin B9, can be found in various foods like sunflower seeds, whole grains, pulses (chickpeas, lentils, and beans), and citrus fruits. Not only is folate essential for producing red blood cells, but it also plays a critical role in supporting overall health, especially for women who are pregnant or planning to conceive.

Bowel cancer ranks as the third most common cancer globally, making these findings particularly impactful. In the UK alone, where nearly 45,000 people receive a bowel cancer diagnosis each year, the study’s insights offer a valuable tool for reducing risk through dietary choices.

Dr. Tsilidis highlighted the potential protective benefits of vitamin B9, emphasizing the need for further exploration into how folate influences cancer risk, including its interactions with different genes.

Dr. Helen Croker, Assistant Director of Research and Policy at World Cancer Research Fund, found the protective effects even at usual dietary intakes of folate, underlining the importance of folate-rich foods in a balanced and healthy diet.

Matt Lambert, Nutritionist and Health Information Manager at World Cancer Research Fund, affirmed the study’s alignment with the organization’s long-standing advice on adopting a diet centered around vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and pulses. Folate, a key player in this nutritional symphony, not only reduces bowel cancer risk but also contributes to overall health when incorporated into meals regularly.

The study’s message is clear: leafy greens and folate-rich foods aren’t just delicious; they’re your allies in the fight against bowel cancer. And for those who aren’t big fans of veggies, fear not—a simple search on Google is all you need to find recipes with these hidden key players.

Some of our teams favourite recipes include:

Hulk smoothie
Add the following ingredients to your blender, blend until smooth, serve and enjoy

• 1 cup water
• ½ banana
• 1 cup spinach
• ½ cup pineapple (fresh or frozen)
• 1 cup green grapes
• ½ cup ice

Hidden Veggie Pasta Sauce

• 1 cup cherry tomatoes
• 1/2 cup grated carrot
• 1/2 cup chopped spinach
• 1/4 cup tomato paste
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 teaspoon dried oregano
• Salt and pepper to taste
• Whole grain or gluten-free pasta of your choice

1. In a blender, combine cherry tomatoes, grated carrot, chopped spinach, tomato paste, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper. Blend until smooth.
2. Cook the pasta according to package instructions.
3. Heat the veggie sauce in a pan until warmed through.
4. Pour the sauce over the cooked pasta, toss, and serve.
Freezes well for quick and nutritious meals throughout the week

Looking for something a little sweeter?

Zucchini Chocolate Muffins

• 1 cup shredded zucchini
• 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or almond flour for a gluten-free option)
• 1/2 cup cocoa powder
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 cup maple syrup
• 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1/2 cup dairy-free chocolate chips (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) and line a muffin tin with paper liners.
2. In a bowl, mix shredded zucchini, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together maple syrup, melted coconut oil, and vanilla extract.
4. Combine wet and dry ingredients, then fold in chocolate chips.
5. Spoon the batter into muffin cups and bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Read the full study HERE

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