Last weekend during Green Festival I was invited to dine at Karyn’s, a raw foods restaurant in Chicago. This was my first experience with the culinary specialty of raw food, uncovering a whole new world of healthy eating that not only tastes good but is better for you.

Since this virgin experience I have begun investigating the benefits of going raw, in my diet that is, and uncovered something I never would have expected. An uncooked vegetarian diet can be the best cancer prevention on the market!

This year, about 182,800 women in the US alone will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and 80% of these women won’t have any genetic predisposition to the disease. More than almost any other serious disease, breast cancer touches nearly all of us, whether we’re women or men, old or young. My own mother died of breast cancer at the young age of 52, leaving my siblings and I at higher risk of contracting cancer. Yet the research proves that cancer can be preventable with healthier diet and lifestyle choices.

Here’s the facts:

Eating five or more servings of fresh fruits and vegetables per day can cut cancer risk by 20%, and the more fresh foods you eat, the less chance you have of contracting cancer. Those who eat the highest amount of fruits and vegetable can cut their cancer risk in half.

A raw diet coupled with not smoking can have the potential to reduce cancer risk by 60% to 70%.

As many as 375,000 cases of cancer, at current cancer rates, could be prevented each year in this nation through healthy dietary choices.

A clear distinction is evident between the healthful benefits of cooked vs uncooked foods; un-cooked fruits and vegetables are the best source of the ingredients known to reduce cancer risk. Studies show that cooking destroys and degrades some of the ingredients in fruits and vegetables known to help in cancer prevention.

Good eats that can reduce the risk of cancer:

Vitamin C and carotenoid rich vegetables such as carrots, squash and sweet potatoes, and dark leafy vegetables, such as broccoli and spinach contain phytochemicals. These nutrients act to prevent a healthy cell from turning cancerous. Phytochemicals have been studied for their role in boosting detoxification of the cells and stimulating the immune system, as well as their anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties—all hugely helpful in reducing cancer risk.

Fiber acts like a scrub brush, moving cancer-causing compounds out of the body before they can create harm. Fiberous foods are dilute potential carcinogens, and may effect hormone production, thus lowering the incidence of hormone-related cancers like breast and prostate cancers. The National Cancer Institute recommends 20-30 grams of fiber per day, such as fruits and berries, and sprouts.

Garlic is a natural antibiotic and immune system enhancer, a free radical attacker, and it increases the enzymes that break down carcinogens in the body. Free radicals are molecules with unpaired electrons are can damage important cellular molecules such as DNA or lipids or other parts of the cell. Ample research has shown garlic to be one of the best foods to eat for cancer prevention.

Green Tea is the best source of catechins in the human diet, containing about three times as many catechins as there are in black tea. Catechins act as chemo-preventive agents, scavenging for free radicals. The catechins found in tea selectively inhibit specific enzyme activities that lead to cancer and may also repair cellular damage caused by free radicals.

Flaxseed is the best known dietary source of plant source chemicals known as lignans, which are high in omega-3 fats (good fats) and other essential fatty acids.

Fats are beneficial in moderation. Olive oil, for instance, has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer. The human body needs fat for normal cellular functioning. So when you eat fat, replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats. These include sunflower, corn, and soybean oils (polyunsaturated fats) and canola and olive oils (monounsaturated fats).

The best part of going raw is the fact you can eat as much as you want and still stay slim. Here’s the bottom line: with a healthy digestive system, it is virtually impossible to gain weight with a diet rich in raw, living foods, and you’ll reduce your risk of cancer to boot! I’m off to make a smoothie of berries and yogurt – YUMMY.

Bonnie Siefers is Owner/Designer of Jonano, A Division of Sami Designs, LLC, She can be reached at 877-ECO-9753.