Recommendation 14 "How to"


  • Many vitamins and phytochemicals are heat sensitive and prone to destruction. Prolonged storage or cooking may destroy them.
  • Many water soluble nutrients, like vitamin C, folate, B vitamins, and minerals leach out of foods when cooked in large quantities of water.
  • Vitamin C is added to some foods as a preservative (antioxidant) or for fortification.
  • As of January 1, 1998 folate is added to cereal grain products like pasta, flours, breads and breakfast cereals. This public health measurement is designed to prevent the neural tube defects, spina bifida and anencephaly. Babies born with either defect, have an unprotected spinal cord or lack a brain.
  • A single tomato or orange contains hundreds of phytochemicals.
  • Herbs and spices also contain phytochemicals.
  • Recent studies using antioxidants have produced variable results. One study using beta-carotene supplements showed a higher incidence of lung cancer and higher overall mortality among male smokers.

And last but not least…

The best way of obtaining the necessary nutrients for good health is from foods. For those who follow these recommendations, "dietary supplements are unnecessary, and probably unhelpful, for reducing cancer risk"


  • Cook vegetables in small amounts of water and for brief periods of time. Avoid overcooking.
  • Avoid cutting vegetables into small pieces prior to cooking.
  • Eat at least five fruits and vegetables daily. Fruits and vegetables in season are not any more expensive than snacks such as potato chips, crackers, etc.
  • Use vegetable oils instead of margarine and shortening whenever possible.
  • The iron in plant foods is less absorbable (than the iron in animal foods). Have some orange juice or other vitamin C-rich food in the same meal to help iron absorption.
  • Eat a variety of vegetables on a weekly basis.
  • If you pack lunch, add romaine or leaf lettuce and tomato slices to your sandwich. Vegetable soups can be very appetizing during the cold months and they can be carried in a thermos. Salads are easy to prepare; add canned beans or chickpeas; carry the dressing separately.
  • Pack fruit with your lunch. Apples, kiwis, oranges, tangerines, pears travel well. Cut the kiwi in half and scoop the flesh with a spoon.
  • Cook with herbs and spices; sprinkle them in salads, soups, dressings, etc.
  • Explore new foods and recipes…tofu, fennel, tomatillos, daikon, papaya, passion fruit, chilies…
  • Eat more grains…not only bread, rice, and pasta. Try quinoa, bulgur, barley, couscous, brown rice, kasha. These have become supermarket staples.


Background information is available in Recommendation 14/Vitamins, Recommendation 14/Minerals and Recommendation 14/Phytochemicals

For additional information visit the following web sites:

Back to Fourteen Recommendations

EXTOXNET FAQS Diet and Cancer Homepage

Prepared 1998 by Bernadene Magnuson, Ph.D.
University of Idaho, Dept. of Food Science and Toxicology - EXTOXNET FAQ Team.