Nutrition for Cancer Survivors           


Key Points:

  • A combination of foods consumed in a mostly plant-based diet plays an important role in keeping us healthy. Variety is the spice of life!

  • Focus on your overall dietary pattern. No single food, vitamin, mineral, spice, herb or supplement can prevent or cure cancer.

  • Eating can improve our health and make us feel great!

  • Diet is just one part of a healthy lifestyle – don’t forget about getting physical activity, adequate sleep, minimizing stress, and not smoking.

Healthy Nutrition to Decrease Risk of Cancer Recurrence

Control Body Weight

  • The risk of certain cancers increases with higher body fat
  • Excess body fat also increases risk of other health problems such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes
  • If you are overweight, any reduction in body fat can reduce risk. Losing only 5-10% of body weight can result in a significant improvement in health.
    • What can you do? Watch portion sizes, eat more fruits and vegetables, and cut down on high-fat and sugary foods to help lower weight.

Add Fruits and Vegetables

  • Eat a variety year round
  • Include cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and bok choy. These contain phytonutrients that have been shown to lower cancer risk.
  • Eat whole foods versus juices or supplements.
  • All fruits and vegetables are high in fiber, antioxidants and other cancer-fighting chemicals.


What counts as a serving?

  • 1/2 cup fruit or vegetable
  • 1 cup raw leafy greens
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit or vegetable
  • 4-6 ounces juice

Recommended intake: Aim for at least 5 servings a day (preferably 8-10)


Move towards a plant-based diet

  • You don’t need to become a vegetarian (unless you want to!) but have most of the foods you eat come from plant sources.
  • These foods provide dietary fiber, complex carbohydrates, some protein and important B vitamins and minerals.
  • Beans are a great alternative to meat.
  • Choose breads, rice and cereals made with whole grains.
  • Look for “whole grain” on nutrition food labels as one of the first ingredients.

Increase Fiber

Goal: 20-30 grams a day

  • High fiber foods can help you feel full and reduce risk or certain cancers.
  • Increase fiber intake gradually and be sure to drink plenty of fluids.
  • Tips to increase fiber in your diet:
    • Sprinkle a high fiber cereal on top of yogurt
    • Add beans and vegetables to casseroles, soups and salads
    • Choose whole grain breads and pastas instead of white bread and pasta
    • Snack onwhole fruits, raw vegetables or whole grain cereal bars

Consume healthy fats

  • Limit animal fats and avoid hydrogenated fats
  • Use olive oil, canola oil or nut oils (monounsaturated fats)
  • Increase omega-3 fatty acid intake from fish, seeds and nuts
  Cold water fish such as salmon are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Cold water fish such as salmon are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids.

  Oats are a great source of whole grain nutrition!

Oats are a great source of whole grain nutrition!

  Beans are high in fiber and protein.

Beans are high in fiber and protein.


Sources: American Cancer Society, American Institute for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute