Do you know why you eat desserts when you’re stressed? Because stressed spelt backwards is desserts! Buuuut…you’re not 12 anymore. You also know that a hot dog or two is fine every now and then, and that you can’t make them, or any other processed meats, a regular part of your daily diet.
And you’re probably also aware that daily consumption of whole grains—like oatmeal, wild and brown rice, wheat, and barley—can drop risk factors for developing a bunch of nasty conditions like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Those two food categories—processed meats and whole grains—are closely tied to risk of colorectal cancer, or cancer of the colon or rectum, according to a recent report from the American Institute for Cancer Research that analyzed 99 studies and health stats on more than 29 million people. Foods like hot dogs and bacon significantly upped the risk, while eating three servings, or about 90g, of whole grains each day can drop the chance by 17%.
Chow down on whole grains and avoid processed meats to lessen your cancer risk
Other factors that increase risk include eating more than 500g of red meat a week, being overweight, and drinking two or more alcoholic beverages a day. To help slash risk, eat whole grains and also exercise regularly, and eat foods high in vitamin C like strawberries and spinach.
“Colorectal cancer is one of the most common cancers, yet this report demonstrates there is a lot people can do to dramatically lower their risk,” said lead author Edward L. Giovannucci, M.D., Sc.D., professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. “The findings from this comprehensive report are robust and clear: Diet and lifestyle have a major role in colorectal cancer.”
Here are some different ideas for adding a variety of whole grains to your diet:
- Make a cooked porridge out of oatmeal or other grains.
- Sprinkle toasted buckwheat groats on cereal or yogurt.
- Snack on popcorn.
- Make polenta out of whole grain cornmeal.
- Swap out white rice for brown rice, or for a different whole grain, like quinoa or farro.
- Add barley to vegetable soups.
- If you bake, try using whole grain flours, such as whole-wheat pastry flour.
- Use stone-ground corn tortillas, rather than white tortillas, in tacos.