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1 in 2 Canadians will develop cancer in their lifetime, but research has shown that more than 50% of cancers could be prevented with a healthy lifestyle. The World Cancer Research Fund has strong evidence that being physically active, adopting healthy eating and drinking habits, not smoking and maintaining a healthy body weight can decrease your risk of developing cancer.

The Foods That Fight Cancer program comes from the conviction that it is imperative to empower Canadians to eat less highly processed foods and cook more healthy recipes to reduce their risk of developing not only colorectal cancer, but other cancers as well.

There is a need to communicate efficiently and clearly the credible scientifically based recommendations when it comes to food and cancer prevention. Most importantly, we believe that we need to influence positively towards a long-lasting behavior change.

To learn more about and to join the Foods That Fight Cancer community, visit our website and follow us on social media!

Recipe Booklet


Statistics show that more than half of all Canadians eat less than 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. This is unfortunate knowing that they are packed with vitamins, minerals, fibre and many phytochemical compounds that have anti-cancer properties. Since all fruits and vegetables provide different benefits, the key is to eat a variety of different fruits and vegetables each day. As a bonus, they will all add a lot of color and texture to your meals!

Bowl of berries alongside bowl of green vegetables


Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts contain exceptional sources of anti-cancer molecules. Eating them on a regular basis can lower your risk of colorectal cancer by 20%.

Berries are an excellent source of polyphenols that have great anti-cancer potential. Why not enjoy them as a snack?

Sliced citrus fruits


Citrus fruits like grapefruits, oranges and mandarins are packed with vitamins. These fruits have the ability to enhance the anti-cancer potential of other phytochemical compounds in your diet. It is preferable to consume the whole fruit instead of only the juice for less sugar and more fibre.


  • At the grocery store, spend more time in the fresh fruits and vegetables section and try new ones.
  • Add fruits to your breakfast cereal or yogurt (berries, pears, peaches, etc).
  • Add a handful of spinach or kale to a fruit smoothie.
  • Add frozen or dried fruits to your muffin recipes.
  • End your lunch with a fresh fruit salad.
  • Prepare veggies and fruits ahead of time, make them appealing and ready to eat. Bring them to work!
  • Keep some vegetables in your freezer so you never run out of them.
  • Start dinner with a salad of dark greens and colorful veggies or a vegetable soup.
  • Fill half your plate with vegetables at dinner.
  • Vary the ways that you prepare your vegetables. For example, try roasting asparagus and bell peppers in the oven, preparing mushrooms and bok choy in a wok, adding lemon juice and coriander to your avocado, enjoying carrots with a Greek yogurt dip, etc.


Research has made it clear that red meat (beef, lamb and pork) should be consumed in moderation (less than 500g/week) to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. Vary your menu by using leaner meats like chicken and incorporating other good protein sources such as fish, eggs and legumes to your meals.

As for processed meats such as sausages, ham and bacon, it is important to limit your consumption as they have been linked to a higher risk of colorectal cancer.

Heated barbecue


High consumption of red meats and processed meats increases your risk of developing colorectal cancer by 30%.

Grilling meats on the BBQ produces toxic compounds called aromatic hydrocarbons that stick to the meat’s surface and can act as carcinogens (cancer-causing compounds).

Salmon on bed of wilted greens


Fish like salmon and sardines contain Omega-3 fatty acids that play a role in promoting cardiovascular health and cancer prevention. Health Canada recommends eating at least 2 meals of fish containing Omega-3 fatty acids each week.


  • To reduce the carcinogens when you grill meat on the BBQ: Marinate meat using antioxidant ingredients such as lemon, olive oil and garlic. Trim the fat so it will not drip onto an open flame. Don’t overcook and flip frequently. Clean your grill after using it.
  • Try cooking veggie burgers as they won’t produce carcinogenic compounds.
  • Establish ‘Meat Free Mondays’ at your home and vary your vegetarian recipes using different protein sources each week such as beans and tofu.
  • Try preparing salmon with an Asian sesame/ginger sauce and many vegetables for a colorful and tasty meal.
  • In your spaghetti sauce, replace half of the meat you would normally use with lentils to help reduce your meat consumption and eventually make it completely vegetarian.
  • Add legumes such as chickpeas and lentils to your soups and salads.
  • In your sandwiches, instead of using processed meat, use leftover pieces of chicken from the dinner you made the night before. Add lots of crispy vegetables.


The Canadian Food Guide recommends enjoying a variety of whole grain foods. They are an excellent source of vitamin B, minerals and fibre. Fibre is a natural non-digestible component of all our edible plants, including grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, vegetables and fruits. It absorbs liquid and adds bulk to your stool so that your food waste passes through your intestines quickly, absorbing carcinogens and other toxins as it travels through your digestive system. It is key for digestive health!

Array of whole grain products


Studies show that a high intake of dietary fibre can help reduce your risk of developing colorectal cancer.


  • At the grocery store, compare the nutrition facts labels on the packages of bread or breakfast cereals and choose the option that is a better source of fibre with the least amount of sugar.
  • Start your day with a bowl of warm oatmeal and raisins.
  • Use whole grain bread or rolls for your sandwiches.
  • Try quinoa; it can easily replace rice in some of your meals or you can eat it as a salad with vegetables.
  • Add barley or brown rice to your soups.
  • Substitute whole wheat flour for all or part of the white flour amount you would normally use when baking.
  • Choose whole grain crackers with hummus as a snack.
  • Buy whole grain spaghetti and enjoy with your favorite Italian sauce.


Statistics show that two-thirds of Canadians don’t eat enough dairy products even though Health Canada recommends 2 servings per day for an adult, one serving being 250 ml of milk, 175 g of yogurt or 50 g of cheese. Milk products are part of a healthy diet and play an important role in helping to keep your bones strong. They provide up to 16 essential nutrients, such as calcium, vitamin D, phosphorus, protein and zinc, to name a few. Fermented dairy products such as yogurt also have the added benefit of probiotic bacteria that contributes to a healthy microbiota in your intestinal tract.

Dairy products including yogurt, cheeses and milk


According to the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute of Cancer Research, there is evidence indicating that milk and other dairy products such as yogurt may protect against colorectal cancer. The synergistic effect of calcium, vitamin D and other milk components may be involved in this action. More specifically, it seems that the calcium in milk helps prevent the growth of benign polyps in your colon, one of the early signs of colorectal cancer.


  • Add milk to your coffee or tea.
  • Bring a few small cheese cubes along with whole grain crackers for a quick nutritious snack.
  • Add some vanilla, cinnamon and fresh fruits to a glass of milk to make an easy, delicious smoothie.
  • Eat yogurt when you get hungry after work.


When it comes to fat, you need to keep in mind that the quality is as important as the quantity. Our body needs fatty acids that play different roles in our systems, but if you eat too much fat on a regular basis, it can contribute to weight gain, high blood cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels that can lead to serious health problems. Not all fats are alike and some have more to offer than others. For example, Omega-3 fatty acids found in some fish (salmon, trout), seeds (flax, chia, walnuts) and oils (canola, fish, soybean) are essential, meaning that they are not produced by the human body and must instead come from the foods we eat.

Studies have demonstrated that the worst fats of all are trans fats. Trans fats are produced industrially and found in shortening (butter, margarine, vegetable oil, etc.), many snack foods, bakery products and fried fast food. They have been linked with increased risk of heart disease and certainly have no protective effect against cancer. It is better to avoid the consumption of trans fats and choose healthier options, if possible.

Also, when selecting your groceries, don’t only consider the fat content of a product, but also take into consideration what else the food has to offer (vitamins, minerals, protein, fibre, etc). Sometimes, low-fat and fat-free products contain more sugar than regular products and therefore are not always the best choice. Moderation remains the key!

Jar of olive oil and artichoke


Virgin or extra-virgin olive oil is concentrated with antioxidants and polyphenols from olives. Research has shown that those molecules have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties.

The health benefits of Omega-3 are not limited to heart disease. According to some studies, high consumption of fish such as salmon, trout and sardines can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by 37% .

Jar of almonds spilled onto table


Nuts contain unsaturated fats and are a great snack choice for healthy eating.


  • Read the nutrition facts table on the packages of your food to choose options that have no trans fat, if possible.
  • Try a little mashed avocado on sandwiches instead of mayonnaise that is high in saturated fats.
  • Bring nuts to work for a healthy snack. Try to choose unsalted nuts and try different kinds such as almonds, walnuts, pistachios and pecans.
  • When you eat potato chips, try to limit your quantity by putting some in a bowl instead of eating directly out of the bag. You will certainly eat a lot less.
  • Use olive oil to cook your food instead of butter.
  • Eat at least 2 servings of fish during the week to increase your intake of Omega-3 essential fatty acids. Salmon, trout and sardines have more Omega-3 than other fish.


Regular consumption of alcohol in excess has been shown to increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer. The recommendation for a woman is to limit consumption to one drink per day and for a man not to exceed 2 drinks per day and to not drink every day. A drink is defined as 12 oz. of beer, 5 oz. of wine and 1.5 oz. of spirits.

Smart hydration not only means to avoid drinking alcohol in excess, but also to make sure to drink enough water (at least 2 L per day). Also, be mindful of your consumption of artificially sweetened drinks; if a single can of soda contains 8 teaspoons of sugar, you can only imagine the amount of sugar contained in a large-sized drink at the movie theatre.

Glass of red wine


Resveratrol in red wine has a powerful anti-cancer action that appears to be responsible for the beneficial effects of wine, preventing the development of certain cancers. Still, moderation is key, as excess alcohol consumption increases your risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Teapot and tea cup filled with green tea


According to some studies, drinking green tea on a regular basis can reduce your risk of developing colorectal cancer. It contains large amounts of catechins which are molecules that have anti-cancer properties.


  • Drink freshly brewed green tea in the afternoon with your healthy snack.
  • Add water to your orange juice in the morning to make it less sweet.
  • Add lemon and mint leaves to your water for a fresh boost.
  • Carry a reusable bottle of water with you and choose one that you like — it will encourage you to drink throughout the day.
  • Drink a glass of water when you drink a glass of wine.


Canadians consume an average of 3,500 mg of sodium each day, which is almost 60% more than the maximum recommended intake (1,500 mg). That is a lot! Most of the salt that we eat is hidden in transformed packaged food such as frozen meals, soups, sauces, snacks and processed meat. You might be surprised to learn that products that taste sweet can also hide a large amount of sodium, such as breakfast cereals and cookies. To make healthier eating choices, take the time to read the nutrition facts table on the packaging, compare the different products and try avoiding the options that have more salt.

Array of different spices and herbs


Freshly crushed garlic adds taste to your recipes so you can add less salt. As well, some studies have shown that garlic contains molecules that can hinder cancer cell growth.

The World Health Organization actually recommends using more spices like turmeric, pepper, ginger, cumin and herbs like parsley, thyme, oregano and rosemary. They also contain molecules with anti-cancer properties.


Staying connected to our hunger and satiety signals (feeling of fullness) means eating when you are hungry and knowing when to stop! For most people, it is not as easy as it sounds. It is unfortunately common to intentionally avoid eating even when we feel hungry. As a result, we are starving for the next meal, often overeating and not knowing when it is time to stop. Finishing the entire plate is not the best indicator of your needs; your feeling of fullness is a better indicator. Once you feel full, you have likely had enough! Of course, our needs can vary from one day to another depending on factors such as physical activity.

Slow down, enjoy what you eat and stay connected to your signals!


No one food item contains all the anti-cancer molecules that can prevent cancer, so it is important to incorporate a wide variety of healthy foods into your eating habits to increase the protective effect. The easiest way to know what you eat is to carefully choose the ingredients that you cook with!

Also, remember that all the different food groups contain specific good nutrients that are important for your health. Canada’s Food Guide can help you balance your plate with a variety of healthy foods each day.

Consult Canada’s Food Guidehttps://food-guide.canada.ca/en/

Last updated: September 2021


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