You know a diet full of fruits and vegetables is good for you, but it did you know that, as a woman, eating right can actually help reduce your chances of getting cervical cancer? It's time to start incorporating some of these "super foods" into your daily diet.
1. Winter squash
Squash is abundant in beta-carotene, an antioxidant that becomes vitamin A in the body; it makes the immune system strong and may lower the risk of cancer. "Beta-carotene gives squash its color, so you can also look for other orange or yellow vegetables to get beta-carotene into your diet," says Mission Heritage Medical Group physician Justine Bello, MD, board-certified in family medicine and integrative holistic medicine. "Generally, the more vibrant color a piece of produce has, the more beta-carotene it has, too."
2. Pink grapefruit
The key compound for cervical health here is lycopene. It belongs to the same carotenoid family as beta-carotene. "Lycopene, in supplement form, has often been used as a treatment option for people who have an HPV infection," Dr. Bello says. "Cooked tomatoes can also provide plenty of lycopene."
The B vitamin known as folate is commonly prescribed to women to ensure the health of their reproductive system during childbearing age. So it follows that folate could also help keep the cervix in shape. For a double dose, pair spinach with a grain such as rice that's been folate enriched.
4. Bell peppers
"Anyone who's ever popped a vitamin C tablet to fight off a cold knows this antioxidant is strong at curing infections, and that same could be true for HPV infections--and the faster those can be cleared out, the better," Dr. Bello says. "Vitamin C also is great at maintaining a healthy immune system, which can be key to preventing HPV infections."
Like vitamin C, vitamin E also has antioxidant properties thought to keep the body strong and healthy. "Spinach is an all-around great choice for women, as it's got many of these nutrients, plus others as well," Dr. Bello says. "Steaming spinach so it's cooked can also help the body better absorb the nutrients."
For more super foods that boost cervical health, click here.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.