Millions of living Americans have a history of cancer, according to The National Cancer Institute. Although research is not conclusive, there is evidence that eating oatmeal in your regular diet can help fight cancer. Eating oatmeal does not completely prevent cancer, but adding this fiber-rich food to your diet could lessen your risk.
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Oatmeal and Antioxidants
Antioxidants, such as those found in oatmeal, might help fight cancer, as well as several other diseases according to the Harvard School of Public Health. Antioxidants neutralize toxins in your body that increase the risk of cancer, known as free radicals. These free radicals can damage your DNA cells, which may lead to cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, antioxidants help block damage done by free radicals, fighting cancer and reducing its risk. One of the best ways to include antioxidants in your diet is eating foods rich in them, as studies show antioxidant supplements might be harmful. Oats contain a higher level of antioxidants than most other grains, making oatmeal an ideal choice.
Oatmeal and Fiber
There are just over 2 grams of dietary fiber in one 1/2-cup serving of dry oatmeal. Numerous studies suggest a connection between high-fiber diets and fighting rectal and colon cancer. The National Cancer Institute notes that studies have been inconsistent as to whether it is beneficial. Some studies suggest a reduction in colon cancer with high-fiber diets, others no change and some an increased risk.
Choosing Your Oats
There are several types of oats available for purchase, ranging from oat groats to quick-cooking or instant oatmeal. Groats are whole oats that have been hulled, cooked and cleaned; they are chewy and take longer to cook than other types. Groats can be chopped to small pieces to create steel-cut oats, which cook faster but retain a chewy consistency. Groats can also be steamed and pressed thin, creating rolled, or old-fashioned oats that are softer and cook faster. Rolled oats cut to smaller pieces create quick-cooking oats, which have a creamier consistency. Ground oats create oat flour and the ground exterior of an oat creates fiber-rich oat bran. Research is inconclusive regarding which type of oatmeal is best for fighting cancer. Select a variety you find appetizing and want to eat often. Old-fashioned oats are the most versatile, as they work in most recipes and yield a chewy, yet soft oatmeal.
Incorporating Oatmeal in Your Diet
Oatmeal is a useful ingredient in many aspects of cooking and baking. You can cook a bowl of traditional oatmeal and include other antioxidant-rich foods such as berries, fruits, nuts and chocolate to your bowl for an added cancer-fighting boost. Oatmeal is useful in cookies, cakes, breads, casseroles, muffins, pancakes, tortillas and granola. In addition, rolled oats are pre-cooked and can be eaten dry if you do not enjoy the consistency of cooked oats. One serving of oatmeal is about 40 grams, or 1/2 cup, on average.
Avoiding tobacco, eating a healthful diet, exercising regularly, avoiding unprotected and unnecessary sun exposure and practicing safe sex can lessen your risk of cancer. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control writes that getting exams regularly and immunization against hepatitis B and HPV can fight the disease. Combining these anti-cancer measures with antioxidant-rich foods such as oatmeal can help prevent cancer. But be sure to speak with your health-care professional for advice on fighting cancer. She can recommend personalized food and lifestyle changes to aid in your battle against the disease.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- American Cancer Society: Cancer Facts & Figures 2011
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: Cancer
- Harvard School of Public Health: Antioxidants: Beyond the Hype
- National Cancer Institute: Colorectal Cancer
- Centers for Disease Control: Vaccines: VPD-Vaccine Questions and Answers
- National Cancer Institute: Antioxidants and Cancer Prevention
- National Cancer Institute: Colon and Rectal Cancer
- MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: Fiber
- United States Department of Agriculture: National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference
- Drugs.com: Oats