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Eating Green to Prevent Cancer

Why do people who eat more plants get less cancer? The largest prospective study of diet and cancer in history, for example, found that vegetarians had lower levels of all cancers combined. This could be due to what they eat less of:

There are also components of plant foods they are getting more of that can help eliminate excess estrogen; extinguish free radicals; and boost our antioxidant, detoxification, and DNA repair enzymes. What we do eat may be as important as what we don’t eat.

The healthiest food is dark green leafy vegetables, which we should ideally eat every day. Greens can improve our eyesight, immune function, athletic performance, and even our physical appearance. The green pigment itself—chlorophyll—may even intercept carcinogens. See my video pick above.

For more on protective compounds in plants, check out my video Phytochemicals: The Nutrition Facts Missing From the Label. Green pigments are just one sliver of the rainbow though. There are benefits to the yellow onesorange onesred ones, and blue ones. Sounds like a Dr. Seuss book!

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here and watch my full 2012 presentation Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death.

Image credit: Anderson Mancini / Flickr

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Read more: Cancer, Diet & Nutrition, Eating for Health, Food, Health, Vegan, Vegetarian, Videos, , ,

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Dr. Michael Greger

A founding member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, author, and internationally recognized speaker on nutrition, food safety, and public health issues. Currently Dr. Greger serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at The Humane Society of the United States. Hundreds of his nutrition videos are freely available at


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1:22PM PDT on May 11, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

6:21AM PST on Feb 9, 2013

All these are fabulous. Thanks very much for the important info.

6:49PM PST on Dec 13, 2012

Thank you Dr, Michael Greger, for Sharing this!

6:23AM PST on Dec 8, 2012

Thank you Dr. Michael Greger, for Sharing this!

10:27AM PST on Nov 13, 2012

Well, now as I eat my spinach and kale everyday I will be imagining them grabbing my carcinogens and booting them out. Thanks for the great article.

8:29PM PDT on Nov 2, 2012

Let medicine be your food and food be your medicine. Thanks for the article!

2:12PM PDT on Oct 30, 2012

Just as I get a hankering for green olives, I must have greens every day. I'll have huge salads with mixed greens, romaine, baby spinach, fresh green cabbage, sprouts and anything fresh I have that will add to the salad. Other days I'll saute dandelion greens when they are in season, add a little olive oil and lemon juice. Another addiction for me is collard greens and red or green swiss chard. With all my greens that require cooking, I use the saute method rather than boiling. Greens of any kind along with an organic jewel yam baked to sticky sweet perfection--that's heaven to me.

8:44AM PDT on Oct 29, 2012

I hadn't thought much about why greens were healthy, but laid out like this it makes sense.

5:25PM PDT on Oct 28, 2012

Good information.

6:29AM PDT on Oct 28, 2012

And they taste good. Thank you.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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