Go Nuts with Veggies

Brussels Sprouts with Pecans and Dried CranberriesA sprinkle of healthful nuts can enhance the flavor and cancer protection of a wide variety of vegetables as part of a cancer-fighting diet. Here are some delicious ideas.

Nuts deliver loads of nutrition in a tiny package. Studies have linked their nutrients to lower risk for some cancers. Since they are high in fat and calories, using a small amount of nuts as a garnish not only helps to curb their calories, but adds wonderful flavors to vegetables that need a lift.

Lend some crunch and savor to lightly steamed or sautéed broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cooked greens, cabbage, turnips, carrots and many more cancer-fighting vegetables with chopped nuts. You'll be getting more health protectors, too.

Nuts Add Health Benefits

Antioxidants protect cells from damage that can lead to cancer development. This damage is caused by "free radicals": unstable molecules caused by everything from UV damage to pollutants. Nuts contain a variety of nutrients with antioxidant properties, including vitamin E and the mineral selenium.

Much of the antioxidant power in nuts comes from phytochemicals, compounds that occur naturally in plants. For example, walnuts and pecans contain ellagic acid, which is broken down by gut bacteria to urolithins. In cell and animals studies, urolithins show antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and direct cancer-inhibiting effects. Nuts also supply flavonoids, another type of antioxidant phytochemical.

Remember: for cancer prevention, it's always best to get vitamins and minerals from healthy plant foods like nuts instead of from supplements.

  • For vitamin E, reach for: Almonds, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, peanuts and pine nuts.
  • For selenium, reach for: Brazil nuts (you can get the entire Recommended Daily Amount in one Brazil nut) or sunflower seeds.
  • Healthy fats in nuts can help your body absorb nutrients like vitamin A, which is why topping vegetable dishes or salads with nuts is a great idea. Most nuts contain mono- and polyunsaturated fats. You can even buy nut oils to use in dressings and cooking.
  • For omega 3 fats that may reduce cancer risk and boost heart health, reach for walnuts. Nuts also offer fiber, folate, copper and magnesium.
  • Phytosterols are another substance found in nuts, and may lower cholesterol levels as well as reduce inflammation. Mix up your nut selection to get the full array of nutty nutrients.

Along with the famous green-bean and- slivered-almonds combo, sprinkle pecans on sweet potatoes or chopped macadamias onto asparagus. Or try this tasty recipe from the AICR Test Kitchen.

Brussels Sprouts with Pecans and Dried Cranberries

  • 1 bag (16 oz.) frozen, petite baby Brussels sprouts
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped, lightly toasted pecans
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Cook Brussels sprouts according to package directions. Meanwhile, in small bowl, stir together oil, vinegar, pecans and cranberries. Transfer cooked sprouts to serving dish. Gently toss with dressing. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 102 calories, 6 g total fat (<1 g saturated fat), 11 g carbohydrates,
2 g protein, 2 g dietary fiber, 13 mg sodium.


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