Posted by Linda Bonvie
November 29, 2012
While the crunchy red fruit made it to the top of the list of cancer-fighting fall foods recommended by senior nutritionist Stacy Kennedy at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, she was referring to the real McCoy, complete with skin, not the kind of processed, high fructose corn syrup-sweetened products from which apples are noticeably absent, such as Snapple Apple (the ingredients in which include nary a hint of apple).
Kennedy’s list of seasonal power foods shows how beneficial a colorful diet can be. But that’s only true when what you eat reflects the ‘true colors’ of nature’s bounty and not the synthetic rainbow of brightly colored and misrepresented processed foods so prevalent on supermarket shelves.
Naturally colorful commodities are receiving more and more kudos these days for their nutritional benefits and cancer-fighting abilities. Unfortunately, many of the products that may appear to offer those benefits – as well as the tasty appeal of apples and other traditional fall fare – are a far cry from the health-enhancing fruits and veggies designed by Mother Nature, even when they’re not disguised by counterfeit colors whose only purpose is to fool consumers into buying nutritionally worthless non-foods.
Kennedy’s top, naturally-colored cancer-fighting foods include:
- Apples, which she recommends we eat more of, noting that studies indicate that the quercetin they contain “protects the cell’s DNA from damage.” The key, she adds, is is “to eat them raw, and with the skin on” (which is one reason we would urge you to buy organic varieties).
Our tip: Steer clear of adulterated apple products in sauce and pies that are loaded with high fructose corn syrup and other undesirable ingredients (one example being Mott’s Original Applesauce which the order of ingredient indicates contains more HFCS than water).
- Cranberries, not just for Thanksgiving anymore. Kennedy recommends buying by the bagful while they’re available and freezing for later use. These cheerful little red balls (which are actually bouncy when ripe) contain benzoic acid, a potent cancer-inhibiting agent.
Our tip: Just say no to canned cranberry sauce, which typically contains HFCS, as well as being highly processed. There is nothing easier to make, in fact, than fresh cranberry sauce from real berries, except maybe boiling an egg!*
- Pumpkin, which is wonderful for eating as well as carving funny faces on. Kennedy, in fact, is a strong advocate for the entire ‘orange range’ of foods, including not just pumpkin, but squash, carrots and sweet potatoes, all of which contain a powerful cancer-fighting nutrient called carotenoid. She suggests keeping pumpkin in your diet throughout the year by adding it to other foods such as pancake batter, soup and smoothies.
Our tip: It’s amazing how “food technology” can take a naturally healthful food like pumpkin and morph it into something that isn’t, an example being commercial pumpkin pies in which pumpkin is fused into a witches’ brew of ingredients such as HFCS, corn syrup and hydrogenated oil. Use pumpkin year-round, as Kennedy suggests, and we say if you’re a pie lover, make your own with either a homemade or ready-made graham cracker crust that does NOT contain artificial flavors, colors, HFCS or hydrogenated oils.
The thing to keep in mind is that ‘color coding’ appears to be one of Mother Nature’s main ways of letting us know which foods should be included in a healthy diet – but such ‘healthy foods’ can both lose their nutrient value and become a source of ‘adverse additives’ once they’ve been highly processed. And in that respect, we’re talking about a type of food identity theft that some might even regard as a “crime against Nature.”
* Put fresh cranberries in a small pot; fill with water just to cover the berries; add sugar, more or less depending on how sweet you like them (for reference I use half a cup of sugar to a bag of cranberries, which is less sweet than most folks might like it); bring to boil; reduce heat and cook for around 10 minutes or until most of the berries burst open; the sauce will still look “soupy” but as it cools, and especially if placed in the refrigerator, it will significantly thicken. Store in the fridge and use in oatmeal, over vanilla ice cream, or as a tangy topping for salmon and chicken.