Popular Diet Recommendations

American Cancer Society Diet Recommendations

The American Cancer Society recommends eating a healthy diet with an emphasis on plant based food sources.1 The following are some of their suggestions:

  • Monitor your portion sizes
  • Eat small meals that are rich in nutritional value and high caloric value
  • Eat a minimum of five servings of fruits and vegetables per day
  • Drink only 100% fruit juice and avoid sweetened or artificially flavored products
  • Eat small portions of lean meats, such as fish, chicken, and turkey
  • Limit red meat to once a week at the most and select lean cuts
  • Avoid fried foods and opt for options that are baked, broiled, roasted or poached
  • Limit saturated fat intake and select foods with monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats

In general most cancer-prevention diets recommend:

  • Reduction or elimination of all saturated fats
  • Limited intake of animal proteins
  • Whole grains, fruits and vegetables for dietary fiber
  • Eliminating highly processed and refined foods
  • Organic meat, dairy, fruits and vegetables if possible
  • Avoid foods with preservatives or additives in them

The Mediterranean Diet

One of the most widely followed diets today among cancer patients is the Mediterranean Diet, also known as the Prasouda Diet. This is more than just a diet in that it not only recommends certain food choices, but moderate daily exercise and reduction of stress. Thus, it is more of a lifestyle change.

The Mediterranean Diet has been linked to a decreased rate of breast cancer development and other types of cancer. Research does not attribute this to just one part of the diet but it does suggest that elimination of saturated fats and heavily processed foods does play a role.2

In a general sense, the Mediterranean Diet recommends that each meal be centered around fruits, vegetables and smaller amounts of whole grains. Meat, particularly fish and chicken, is eaten a few times a week and red meat only very sparingly and in small portions. Yogurt and low fat cheese can be enjoyed daily and olive oil is used as a substitute for all types of other fats in the diet. Spices are used  to enhance flavor instead of salt

What to Watch For When Searching for a “Cancer Diet”

There are some diets that claim to be the cure for cancer. There is no diet that has been shown to cure cancer or even guarantee prevention. Some “fad” diets recommend use of soy products or even a pure liquid diet for immediate results. Vegan and vegetarian diets may be beneficial to some cancer patients, due to changes in their ability to digest meats. However, you must be careful when planning your nutrition, as you should be sure to get the appropriate amounts of protein and essential amino acids that your body needs. The greatest benefit of the vegetarian diet is the increase in dietary fiber intake, not just the elimination of animal food sources.4

Work with your treatment team and consult with a nutritionist or dietician before making any major changes to your diet. Avoid starting any diets that dramatically limit your food intake or change the types of foods you eat without talking to your doctor.


1 ACS Guidelines on Nutrition and Physcial Activity for Cancer Prevention. (n.d.). Retrieved from American Cancer Society: www.cancer.org/Healthy/EatHealthyGetActive/ACSGuidelinesonNutritionPhysicalActivityforCancerPrevention/acs-guidelines-on-nutrition-and-physical-activity-for-cancer-prevention-healthy-diet

2 Bosetti, C., Pelucchi, C., & Negri, M. (2009). Diet and cancer in Mediterranean countries: carbohydrates and fats. Public Health And Nutrition , 1595-600.

3 Trichopoulou, A., Lagiou, P., Kuper, H., & Trichopoulos, D. (2000). Cancer and Mediterranean Dietary Traditions. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention , 867-873.

4 Aubertin-Leheudre, M., Hamalainen, E., & Aldercreutz, H. (2011). Diets and Hormonal Levels in Postmenopausal Women With or Without Breast Cancer. Nutrition and Cancer , 514-524.

This article was originally published on July 27,2012 and last revision and update of it was 9/2/2015.