Rainbow diets can help fight against cancer and diabetes

Colourful veg and fruit contain a cocktail of chemicals that work to prevent tumours developing by reducing inflammation.

Understanding how they work could lead to new drugs for cancer and other potentially fatal conditions, said the team.

Food scientist Professor Jairam Vanamala, of Pennsylvania State University, said that building meals and snacks around a variety of coloured fruit and veg maximised the intake of disease-fighting nutrients.

She explained: “When you ‘eat from the rainbow’, like red grapes, purple potatoes, green broccoli, we are not providing one compound, we are providing a wide variety of compounds that work on multiple pathways, and cause the self destruction of cancer stem cells.”

Helpful 

The study in pigs, which have a digestive system similar to ours, found purple-fleshed potatoes suppressed the spread of colon cancer stem cells, even as part of a high calorie diet.

The suppression was linked to lower levels of a harmful protein called interleukin-6 in the potatoes which is believed to be linked to inflammation and the formation of tumours.

The findings, published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, reinforce recent research suggesting cultures with plant-based diets tend to have lower bowel cancer rates than those that eat more meat.

Prof Vanamala added: “White potatoes may have helpful compounds, but the purple have much greater concentrations of these anti inflammatory, anti oxidant compounds.

“We hope to investigate how other plants can be used in the future.”



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