Alberta Cancer Foundation

The Relationship Between Fresh Produce and Cancer


Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is important for anyone looking to maintain a healthy diet, but it can be complicated for those undergoing cancer treatment. Katie Keller, a registered dietician from the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Calgary, explains the relationship between fresh produce and cancer.

For those undergoing cancer treatment, are there specific recommendations for fruit and vegetable intake?

Minimizing weight loss is our primary nutritional goal during treatment. I encourage people to incorporate vegetables and fruits into foods that also provide them with a source of protein and are going to get them more calories. Have a banana, but add peanut butter to it. Or dice up vegetables and incorporate them into a sauce or casserole. That way you’re still getting the micronutrients you need, along with the added protein and calories.

Are there other fruit- and vegetable-related concerns for cancer patients?

Eating can become very challenging when you’re going through treatment, with side effects like poor appetite, nausea and mouth sores. Altering the texture of food is something I suggest. Raw vegetables and fruit can be painful to handle, so cooking them until they’re soft and adding a sauce can really help patients get those vegetables and fruits in.

Are specific fruits and vegetables recommended for cancer prevention?

A wide variety of vegetables, from leafy greens to root veggies, is recommended. A variety means you’re going to get all of the vitamins and minerals and antioxidants that you need to keep your body functioning and give you the best chance to prevent the risk of cancer development.