When Dr. Ebrahimi counsels patients about prostate cancer and its prevention, “I try to emphasize the importance of a heart-healthy diet,” he noted, adding that in general, that means a diet which is mostly based on plants.
“Eating five servings of fruits and vegetables is a key,” advised Dr. Ebrahimi, who recommends eating all colors of fruits and vegetables to obtain the necessary nutrients and vitamins to avoid relying on supplements.
A Mediterranean diet can also help reduce the risk of prostate cancer, according to Teresa Baczkowski, manager of Clinical Nutrition at the Cecilia Gonzalez De La Hoya Cancer Center at Adventist Health White Memorial.
A Mediterranean diet includes the following:
- Olive, grapeseed or avocado oils
- Cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, chard and similar vegetables)
- Dark fruits like pomegranates and dark-colored berries
- Tomato-based dishes
Additionally, “flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, nuts, garlic, and soy foods are also good in a healthy diet,” Baczkowski said.
Dr. Ebrahimi recommends increasing fish and poultry intake in lieu of red meats. For instance, salmon, herring, mackerel, and anchovy, which contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, are a very tasty and easy way to incorporate this beneficial component in the diet, and “can also increase the amount of good cholesterol in patients which has been shown to correlate with prostate health.”
According to Carranza, foods that can potentially help prevent cancer from forming include those high in vitamin C and vitamin E:
- Bell peppers
- Sweet potato
- Brussels sprouts
According to the American Cancer Society, several studies suggest that diets high in certain vegetables – including tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage – or fish may be linked with a lower risk of prostate cancer, especially more advanced cancers.
Having a well-balanced diet that’s low in saturated fat and managing weight can definitely help a man reduce his risk of getting prostate cancer, according to Carranza, who noted that population studies show a strong link between diet and the development of prostate cancer.
For example, in the last 20 years since American fast foods have been introduced in Japan, obesity has increased from 5% to 20% – and the incidence of prostate cancer has also increased.
“In addition, it has been noted that when people from countries with low incidence of prostate cancer, like China, move to the U.S., their risk of developing prostate cancer increases,” Carranza noted.
Fortunately, men can help protect themselves against prostate cancer by increasing their intake of fresh fruits and vegetables.
“When people increase their intake of fresh fruits and vegetables they increase their intake of fiber and cancer-fighting micronutrients such as phytonutrients and antioxidants,” Carranza explained. “Phytonutrients and antioxidants help the body fight against and prevent the process that causes damage to the DNA, and thus help prevent cancer from forming.”