Nutrition and Cancer: What to Eat

When it comes to cancer, food can be powerful medicine! A healthy diet full of whole, naturally colorful foods is beneficial for cancer prevention and helps maintain muscle mass, energy, and health after cancer treatment. If you’re a cancer survivor (or want to reduce your risk of developing cancer), try incorporating these foods in your diet.

Focus on fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables contain powerful antioxidants and phytochemicals that have been shown to help prevent oxidative damage and protect our cells. Diets rich in fruits and vegetables have also been associated with lower cancer risk.

  • Fill up half your plate with non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, bell peppers, green beans, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, tomatoes, etc.
  • Pick colorful fruits like berries, bananas, oranges, melons, grapes, pineapples, mangoes, etc. 
  • Leave the skin on fruits like apples, peaches, and pears. Most of the nutrients and fiber are found in the skin!

Choose whole grains and complex carbohydrates

These foods will help you maintain energy. They’re also good sources of fiber, which aids in digestion and promotes gut health.

  • Pick brown rice, whole wheat/whole grain breads and pasta, barley, farro, quinoa, sweet potatoes, beans/peas/lentils, and whole corn.

Eat lean protein

Getting enough protein in your diet is important for immune function and maintaining muscle mass.

  • Choose chicken, turkey, fish, or beans/peas/lentils.

Include healthy fats

Eating the right type of fat can protect and improve your heart health.

  • Unsaturated fats are usually liquid at room temperature and are found in olive oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, and avocado.
  • Anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids are in foods like nuts, flax and chia seeds, and fatty fish like salmon.

Drink plenty of fluids

Any liquid that isn’t caffeinated counts toward your fluid intake. If it’s okay with your medical team, drink at least 64oz of water each day to keep yourself well hydrated.


Meghan Perkins 150x150

Meghan Perkins is Project Angel Heart’s registered dietitian. After a semester studying baking and pastry arts at culinary school, Meghan quickly found her passion for clinical nutrition and transferred to the University of Northern Colorado to earn her bachelor’s degree in dietetics. Meghan has worked in clinical and private practice settings, educating patients about how their food choices impact their health with an emphasis on CKD, diabetes, heart disease, celiac disease, and weight management. In her free time, Meghan enjoys exploring Denver by bike with her husband, trying new coffee and tea shops, hiking in Crested Butte, and relaxing with her dog Barney.