Scientists at Penn State conducted a study on pigs revealed that a diet full of colourful fruits and vegetables might help prevent colon cancer. “What we are learning is that food is a double-edge sword — it may promote disease, but it may also help prevent chronic diseases, like colon cancer,” said Jairam K.P. Vanamala, associate professor of food sciences, Penn State to Science Insider. “What we don’t know is, ‘how does this food work on the molecular level?’ This study is a step in that direction.”
In the study the pigs were given a high-calorie diet which was supplemented with purple-fleshed potatoes. These pigs were found to have less of a particular protein (colonic mucosal interleukin-6 — IL-6) which are linked to spreading of cancer cells explained Vanamala, a faculty member at the Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute.
This study was published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry and states that eating whole foods with micronutrients like proteins, phytonutrients like vitamins, carotenoids and flavonoids can help in altering the impact of this cancer spreading protein in humans.
Why Vegetables Are More Effective Than Meat
According to Vanamala, this research also lays emphasis that people who consume a plant-based diets have lower colon cancer rates than those on a meat-based diet. He added that colon cancer is the second highest cause of mortality in the United States and many other Western countries that eat more of meat than fruits and vegetables.
In the case of this study, purple potatoes were used but Vanamala says that colourful fruits and vegetables can have similar effects. The thing with these colourful plants is that they contain bioactive compounds like anthocyanins and phenolic acids which have been linked to cancer prevention.