This handout is for men who are looking to decrease their risk of prostate cancer, but have not had prostate cancer.
Good health and reducing cancer risk starts with eating a plant-based diet, being physically active and having a healthy weight. To decrease your prostate cancer risk, it is also recommended to include foods rich in lycopene and selenium, and avoid having too much calcium.
This handout provides general diet recommendations for preventing all cancers as well as specific tips for prostate cancer.
Steps You Can Take
- Eat a plant-based diet with a variety of foods. A plant-based diet means that you eat mostly natural or unprocessed vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes (beans, peas and lentils), nuts and seeds. Lean animal foods and low fat dairy products should make up a smaller amount of the food you eat. Plant foods provide vitamins, minerals, fibre and phytochemicals that protect against cancer. Because they are high in fibre and water, and are digested more slowly, they can help satisfy hunger and maintain a healthy weight.
- Eat a wide variety of vegetables and fruit, aiming for at least 7 servings daily.
- Choose unprocessed or minimally processed whole grains and whole grain products such as whole grain bread, oats, high fibre cereal, brown rice, whole grain pasta and quinoa. For example:
- Whole grain bread is a better choice than white bread.
- Oatmeal with blueberries is a better choice than an oat cereal bar with blueberry filling or a blueberry muffin.
- Choose plant-based protein, including legumes, soy foods, nuts and seeds, more often than meat.
- Keep portions of fish, shellfish, seafood, turkey, chicken, and red meat to about 75 g or 2 ½ oz. This is about the size of a deck of cards.
- If you eat red meat, have no more than 500 g or 18 oz per week. Red meat includes beef, pork, lamb and goat.
- Limit foods with high amounts of added sugars, fats and salt. Many of these foods are high in calories and can lead to weight gain. They are also often low in nutrients that protect against cancer.
- Drink water or unsweetened tea or coffee instead of sugary drinks like sweetened coffee and tea beverages, lemonade, fruit drinks and pop.
- Limit fast food, convenience foods and high fat or sugary processed snack foods such as chips, French fries and cookies. When you eat these foods keep your portion small.
- Avoid processed meats including bacon, sausage, hot dogs, cold cuts and luncheon meats including salami, pepperoni, ham, bologna and any other meat preserved by smoking or with nitrates.
- Eat foods rich in lycopene and selenium often. Lycopene is better absorbed when foods are cooked, pureed or eaten with a little fat (for example including a small amount of avocado, nuts, or oil).
Good food sources of Lycopene Good food sources of Selenium
Tomatoes and tomato products (pastes, sauces, juices, soup)
Grapefruit (pink and red)
Nuts (especially Brazil nuts) and Seeds
Fish and seafood
- Get the recommended amount of calcium each day, but not too much.
Age Amount of Calcium recommended daily
19 to 70 years
1000 milligrams (mg)
Over 70 years
1200 milligrams (mg)
Getting more than 1500 mg per day of calcium may increase your risk of prostate cancer. Use calcium supplements to help meet your daily recommended need only if you are unable to get enough calcium from food.
- Choose foods instead of supplements for cancer prevention. The combination and chemical form of nutrients in food appears to offer greater protective benefits than supplements. Supplements can also contain vitamins and minerals in much higher amounts than we need. Research is being done to find out if the vitamins and minerals in supplements fight cancer, but at this time, taking supplements to help prevent prostate cancer is not recommended.
- Vitamin E supplements are linked with an increased risk of prostate cancer.
- Selenium supplements may also be harmful for men who are already getting enough selenium from food.
- Speak with a doctor or dietitian if you are thinking about taking vitamin, mineral or herbal supplements.
- Focus on your total diet more than any single food. Some foods, such as legumes, soy foods, pomegranate juice, flaxseeds and green tea, are being studied for their impact on prostate cancer. For now, however, the link is unclear. Until we know more, eat these foods as part of a varied plant-based diet.
Last updated: November 2013