Please note: This information was current at the time of publication. But medical information is always changing, and some information given here may be out of date. For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit, the AAFP patient education website.

Information from Your Family Doctor

Food Choices to Help Reduce Your Risk of Cancer


Am Fam Physician. 2000 Oct 1;62(7):1697-1698.

Grain Products

Foods to choose

  • Whole-grain breads and cereals

  • Baked products made with whole grains and limited amounts of fat and sugar

Foods to limit

  • Biscuits

  • Croissants

  • Stuffing

  • Fruit and nut bread

  • Fried or greasy snacks (tortilla chips, corn chips, popcorn, etc.)

Vegetable and Fruits—Eat Five Per Day

Foods to choose

  • Beta-carotene sources: carrots, cantaloupe, apricots, tomatoes, winter squash, spinach, etc

  • Vitamin C sources: oranges, grapefruit, red and green peppers, strawberries, broccoli, etc.

  • Folic acid sources: oranges and orange juice, bananas, leafy green vegetables, leaf lettuce, asparagus, etc.

  • Cabbage family: broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, etc.

Foods to limit

  • Vegetables prepared in high-fat sauces

  • High-fat items such as avocado and coconut

  • Fried or deep-fried vegetables (potatoes, mushrooms, zucchini, etc.)

  • Fried snacks (potato chips, sweet potato chips, etc.)

Milk and Dairy

Foods to choose

  • Skim or 1 percent milk

  • Nonfat dry milk or evaporated skim milk

  • Low-fat cottage cheese or yogurt

  • Farmers cheese

  • Part-skim mozzarella or ricotta cheese

  • Low-fat cheeses

  • Ice milk

  • Low-fat frozen yogurt

Foods to limit

  • Whole or 2 percent milk

  • Sour cream

  • Butter and margarine

  • Fried or deep-fried cheese

  • Regular cheeses

  • Ice cream

  • Cream (half and half, whipping)

Meat or Meat Alternatives

Foods to choose

  • Lean beef, veal, pork and lamb (trim all visible fat)

  • Skinless chicken and turkey breast

  • Low-fat processed meat (lean ham, low- or nonfat bologna and hot dogs, etc.)

  • Fish and shellfish

  • Dried beans, peas and lentils

Foods to limit

  • Chicken and turkey with skin

  • “Prime” grade, heavily marbled or fatty meats (such as rib-eye steak)

  • Sausage, bacon, frankfurters, bologna, etc.

  • Goose and domestic duck

  • Fried or deep-fried meat, poultry and seafood

Fats, Oils and Sweets

Foods to choose

  • Use sparingly—broil or bake instead of frying

  • Use fruit, instead of butter and syrup, on pancakes and waffles

  • Choose low-fat sweets (angel-food cake, graham crackers, ginger snaps, etc.) if you have enough calorie allowance after getting foods from the other food groups

Foods to limit

  • Greasy and/or fried items

  • Spreads and salad dressings

  • Desserts that are high in fat and sugar (pastries, pies, doughnuts, candy, etc.)

This handout was originally published in the Physician's Guide to Outpatient Nutrition. Copyright 2000 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

This handout is provided to you by your family doctor and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Other health-related information is available from the AAFP online at

This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.


Copyright © 2000 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP. Contact for copyright questions and/or permission requests.

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