/ by Sean O'Nan, MS, RD, LD
In everyone's bodies, there are small particles called free radicals that can damage your DNA and may play a role in the development of cancer and other comorbidities. Free radicals occur naturally in the body but can become dangerous at higher concentrations. Environmental toxins, such as cigarette smoke and some metals, may also contain additional free radicals, thus increasing your risk for damage with more exposure.
So what can we do to help prevent free radicals from damaging our bodies? A good first step is changing dietary habits to include foods rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants can help neutralize the free radicals and prevent damage to your body. They can be found in many foods, including fruits, vegetables and some grains. Look for foods rich in Vitamin A, C, E and beta-carotene to get started.
By incorporating these foods into your diet, you can benefit from their antioxidant properties as well as additional vitamins and minerals. Research on the use of antioxidant supplements remains unclear and still may not be advised for patients with a cancer diagnosis. It is important to always discuss the use of dietary supplements with your oncologist before you begin taking them.
Start off on the right foot with antioxidant-rich foods by trying these two recipes below.
- 1 cup frozen strawberries
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup frozen pineapple
- 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
Add all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. You may need to scrape the sides of the blender when the smoothie is thick. Enjoy!
Note: Feel free to add additional fruit juices or milk if the smoothie is too thick and adjust to your preferred thickness. For extra calories and protein, use whole milk and Greek yogurt.
- 12 carrots (cut in half lengthwise if thick)
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 ¼ tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp parsley, minced
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice carrots if needed, then toss in bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place carrots on baking sheet and roast in oven for 20 minutes or until browned. Remove from oven and sprinkle with minced parsley.
To learn more about antioxidants, visit the National Cancer Institute's "Antioxidants and Cancer Prevention" web page.
For additional information regarding diet and nutrition for cancer patients at Markey Cancer Center, please call 859-323-2798 and ask to speak with a registered dietitian.