Influence of Vegetable and Fruits Color on Colorectal Cancer

Influence of Vegetable and Fruits Color on Colorectal Cancer

In the prevention and lowering the various types of cancers, vegetables and fruits play a very essential role. Not only in preventing cancer, but also in preventing other health problems like heart problems, diabetes, mental illnesses, obesity and digestive problems. A healthy and nutritious diet has always been a part of a healthy lifestyle.

The healthy lifestyle impact on cancer prevention has also been seen in various recently done researches. The reason behind this the potent nutrients and phytochemicals present in the fruits and vegetables. These foods contain significant levels of anti-cancer vitamins, dietary fibers, carotenoids, antioxidants, polyphenols, plant sterol and many more phytochemicals.

One of such cancers in which diet plays a significant role is colorectal (colon and rectum) cancer.

What is colorectal cancer?

Colorectal cancer is a type of malignant tumor that starts from the inner wall of the colon (large intestine) or rectum. These excess growth on the inner walls of these organs are known as polyps. However, not all polyps changed into cancerous growths.

The major risk factors that lead to colorectal cancer are the family history of colorectal cancer, increasing age, African-American race, chronic ulcerative colitis and colon polyps. There are certain effective treatments options available now to tackle this cancer. However, by taking certain preventive measures the risk of this cancer can be reduced up to certain levels. One of these measures is intake of adequate vegetables and fruits.

Association between vegetables/fruits and colorectal cancer

Studies have shown that people having high fiber and whole-grain foods instead of fat foods found to have reduced risk of colorectal cancer. It is well-known that the major reason behind the action of these fruits and vegetables are the phytochemicals.

However, phytochemicals that impart color to foods like polyphenols and flavonoid can also be varied in respect of their actions according to the colors of vegetables and fruits.

According to a report published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology, colors have a potential impact on reducing the risk of colorectal cancer and vice versa.

Let's explore, colored fruits and vegetables categories (Pennington and Fish’s categories) and their association with colorectal cancer:

  • Green vegetables and fruits are strongly associated with reduced risk of colorectal cancer in both men and women. Being rich in lutein, sulforaphane, indole, folate and fibers, these green foods significantly fight against cancerous cells and also inhibit cell growth.
  • White vegetables being enriched with quercetin, saponins, glucans, and polysaccharides also possesses positive association with reduced cancer risk of colon and rectal.
  • The impact of orange and yellow fruit and vegetables is uncertain. However, the protective nature of ginger, carrot and pumpkin and antioxidants present in citrus fruits shows a significant impact against colorectal cancer.
  • Red and purple fruits and vegetables are also found to have pronounced positive relationships, but majorly in females than males.
Color groupVegetables and fruits typeVegetables and fruits item
Green Other green fruits and vegetablesGreen cucumber, green pepper, broccoli, celery, melon, cabbages, zucchini
Dark green leafy vegetablesMugwort, water dropwort, pumpkin leaf, leak beet,  spinach, perilla leaf, chicory, kale, crown daisy
Orange/yellow Citrus fruitsCitrus fruits juices, mandarin orange, orange, kumquat
Other orange/yellow fruits and vegetablesPeach, Carrot, pumpkin, ginger, persimmon
Red/purple BerriesGrapes, Strawberry
Other red fruits and vegetablesWatermelon, tomato, red cabbage, red pepper, plum
White Allium family bulbsOnion, Garlic, leek
Hard fruitsPear, Apple
CauliflowerAsian radish
Other white fruits and vegetablesMushroom, Oriental melon, banana, burdock, balloon flower root, deodeok, lotus root

Further analyses are still required to confirm these relationships between fruits and vegetables intake by color and risk of colorectal cancer. However, there is no second thought in that these vegetables and fruits are healthy to consume as compared to processed foods and meat, red meat, sugary foods, fried food, carbonated drinks, fast and junk foods.

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