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Cheap Cancer-Preventing Foods Are Already In Your Cupboards – Here’s How To Cook With Them

Woman looks in kitchen cupboards
(Image credit: Getty Images / MachineHeadz)

The first big shop you do after moving into a new home is always a momentous occasion, for it is during that big shop that you will be purchasing a few cans of food that you pop in the cupboard and then probably never see again until your next move.

These cans are bought with the best of intentions. They are usually healthy, long-lasting foods like lentils, tuna, beans and chopped tomatoes – but they often get forgotten in favour of fresher ingredients or a takeaway when you’re stuck for meal ideas.

A new tool created by the World Cancer Research Fund (opens in new tab) (WCRF) aims to help you use these ingredients to create healthy, delicious meals. Simply type one or two ingredients that you’re looking to use into the recipe generator (opens in new tab) and it will suggest meals that use those ingredients. We popped in lentils and chopped tomatoes, which are always on hand, and got three recipes including one for beef and lentil burritos (opens in new tab) that rack up four – count ’em! – of your recommended minimum of five portions of fruit and veg a day.

The tool has been launched as part of Cancer Prevention Action Week, which runs from 21st to 28th February. The event encourages people to change their lifestyle to prevent cancer developing. While there are many cancers that people can do nothing to stop, the WCRF states that 40% of cancer diagnoses could potentially have been prevented.

“During Cancer Prevention Action Week we are spreading the word that rather than shelling out on expensive ‘superfoods’, a well-stocked store cupboard plays an essential part in creating nutritious meals that, as part of a healthy lifestyle, can help to reduce your risk of cancer,” says Matt Lambert, WCRF’s health information and promotion manager.

“Canned or frozen vegetables still count towards your five-a-day. They are often cheaper than fresh and can be just as nutritious. There’s evidence that vegetables and fruit can help protect against cancers of the mouth, throat and digestive tract.

“Pulses – such as lentils, chickpeas and canned or dried beans – are also nutrient-packed. They are high in fibre and provide a really good source of plant-based protein. Foods containing dietary fibre help to protect against bowel cancer and against weight gain, overweight and obesity.”

You can check how your lifestyle affects your risk of cancer using this cancer health check tool (opens in new tab), which asks 11 questions about things like your diet and exercise routine, then recommends some actions you can take to reduce your risk.

Nick Harris-Fry
Nick Harris-Fry

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.