Eating pulses, brown rice, green vegetables and dried fruit could cut the risk of bowel cancer.
People who consume pulses such as kidney beans or lentils at least three times a week reduce their risk of developing polyps – small growths in the lining of the bowel which can become cancerous – by a third, researchers say.
Swapping refined grains for brown rice or barley, is not only more nutritious, it can help you lose belly fat.
Eating brown rice once a week cuts the risk by two fifths, while having cooked green vegetables at least once a day reduces it by a quarter.
The scientists from Loma Linda University in California also found eating dried fruit at least three times a week cuts the risk of developing the growths by a similar amount.
The study is one of the first to look at which specific foods can cut the risk of bowel cancer. It used data from a survey of nearly 3,000 people 25 years ago who were asked how often they ate certain foods.
Participants were then asked to complete a follow-up survey which focused on whether they developed polyps, with around a sixth of participants confirming that they had.
The data was adjusted to take into account possible hereditary conditions, how active people were and whether they smoked, drank or ate certain unhealthy foods.
Study author Dr Yessenia Tantamango said that the high fibre content in these foods helped make them potent weapons in the fight against bowel cancer.
Dr Tantamango, whose findings were published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer, added: ‘Pulses, dried fruits, and brown rice all have a high content of fibre, known to dilute potential carcinogens.
‘Additionally, cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, contain detoxifying compounds, which would improve their protective function. Eating these foods is likely to decrease your risk for colon polyps, which would in turn decrease your risk for colorectal cancer.’
‘Our study confirms the results of past studies that have been done in different populations analysing risks for colon cancer.’