Here are your doctor's orders for today: Eat your broccoli.

There are so many good reasons to enjoy fresh vegetables, especially broccoli, but another one leapt out at me as I read the August issue of the International Journal of Cancer. Certain vegetables and fruits rich in antioxidants – especially cruciferous veggies like broccoli – can reduce your risk of non-Hodgkins lymphoma by as much as 30 percent.

The various forms of non-Hodgkins lymphoma lead to more than 50,000 new cancer diagnoses each year. But researchers found that certain antioxidant-rich fresh fruits and vegetables can slash your chances of being one of them.

In fact, the study found that people who ate four or more broccoli servings per month had a 28 percent lower risk of lymphoma. The researchers also found that people who ate yellow and orange fruits and vegetables had the same benefit – but they had to eat at least 14 servings per month to get it.

Broccoli is great, but other cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, bok choy, rutabaga, and cabbage have some of the same powers. So you can mix it up as long as you're enjoying them on a regular basis.

Try new recipes – and try new vegetables – so you don't get bored, and you'll be more likely to keep these great, fresh foods in your diet.

The key here is the word "fresh." You're not going to get any of the benefit if you eat dehydrated broccoli pieces that have been reconstituted in some packaged food that you shouldn't be eating anyway. The researchers say you won't even get the same benefit from a supplement – only real, fresh produce.

While some fruits have the same benefits, the researchers say the evidence points more strongly toward the vegetables. Besides, if you're like most people you probably already have too much sugar in your diet, so it's best to limit your fruit intake.

And while the researchers didn't look at this point, I'd say organic is just as important as fresh. You might lower your risk for lymphoma and other diseases by eating antioxidant- rich foods, but you'll be hurting yourself in other ways if your meals are laced with pesticides and other chemicals.

Of course, there are so many other reasons to eat fresh, organic veggies every day. Many of the critical nutrients we need come from fresh vegetables – including vitamins you just won't get, or won't get enough of, if you eat those packaged meals (even the supposedly healthy ones) and fast food.

And, as a man who's spent a good part of his life growing fresh, organic vegetables, I can't think of anything that tastes better on the plate next to a delicious grilled steak.


Antioxidant-rich fruit, veg may prevent lymph cancers lymph-cancers