The Maori people, the native people of New Zealand, have an interesting legacy — an almost non-existent incidence of colon cancer. A New Zealand University research team recently set out to uncover why their colon cancer rate is so low. This colon cancer study hoped to find out why the Maori people of New Zealand were able to avoid this life threatening disease in an effort to make discoveries that may be valuable in the prevention and treatment of colon cancer throughout the rest of the world.
A Look At Diet
First, the researchers looked at the Maori diet in this colon cancer study. They found that purple and red fruits, berries, and vegetables formed a larger portion of their diet than did the diet of the average person. Obviously aware that anti-oxidants from fruit are beneficial, the researchers wondered if the average person might receive the same amount of beneficial anti-oxidants, just from other colored fruits and vegetables.
Researchers believed proving other foods possessed just as many anti-oxidants might cancel out the benefits the Maori people gained from having a diet high in purple and red fruits, berries, and vegetables. To find out for sure, researchers set out to check the anti-oxidant levels of foods of all colors to see if the purple and red foods contributed to the lower incidence of colon cancer.
Through testing the anti-oxidant levels of these purple and red fruits, berries, and vegetables largely consumed by the Maori people, researchers discovered that the levels of anti-oxidants in the fruits and vegetables in the average person’s diet don’t match up to those in the Maori diet.
Instead of finding that the levels in other colored fruits and vegetables were the same as the purple and red varieties, researchers found that they vary widely. Purple and red fruits, berries, and vegetables like plums, red potatoes, berries, and red apples have approximately four times as much anti-oxidant level as other colored fruits and vegetables, such as celery, green onions, or peaches.
This is where the colon cancer study came together as the high levels of anti-oxidants in the Maori diet seemed to be a factor in the extremely low level of colon cancer.
What It All Means
While the research into the Maori diet still continues today, the findings from the initial colon cancer study show strong proof that eating more purple and red fruits, berries, and vegetables is believed effective in preventing colon cancer, including raspberries, cherries, red apples, strawberries, sweet potatoes, red currants, plums, and more. Any fruit, berry, or vegetable that has a purple or red skin contains four times the level of anti-oxidants of other colored varieties.
For health and colon cancer prevention, this means consuming a diet full of fresh purple and red fruits, berries, and vegetables is beneficial. Fresh is the important word here, because frozen, canned, or cooked foods are not as beneficial. Unfortunately, the makeup of a food and the anti-oxidants in it change when food is altered by freezing, canning, or cooking. However, while fresh, uncooked purple and red foods are best, experts say it’s better to eat frozen, canned, or cooked foods rather than not eating them at all.