Fall Vegetables and Cancer Prevention

Butternut SquashCancer prevention experts continue to recommend an increased consumption of plant foods, including vegetables.


More recent reports also suggest that people should broaden the variety of vegetables they are eating. With the harvest around the corner, this is the perfect time to add more vegetables such as pumpkins, Brussels sprouts and celeriac into your diet that you may not be eating at other times of the year.


Pumpkins and Squash 


Both are members of the gourd family and come in a wide variety of colors and sizes. They have become more versatile because of their ability to be used in both sweet and savory recipes. They are also a great source of vitamin C and riboflavin.


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Brussel Sprouts


A member of the cabbage family, Brussels sprouts contain about four grams of fiber per serving. They are best cooked whole or sliced in half and sautéed or steamed and served on the side.




Broccoli is also a member of the cabbage family and an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin K and vitamin A. It also contains the phytonutrients, indole and sulforaphane which are studied for their cancer prevention properties. Indole is thought to suppress a chemical that causes cancer tumor growth, and sulforaphane is thought to act as a detoxifier in the body. Broccoli can be eaten raw or cooked, but more recent studies have found that steaming is the best way to preserve its nutrients and enzymes.




Celeriac is one of the ugliest vegetables, but also one of the healthiest. It is an excellent source of vitamin C, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin B6 and magnesium. When purchasing celeriac, look for one that is firm and small to medium. Use celeriac in place of celery.




Cauliflower is another member of the cabbage family and is an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese. It is very adaptable and can be served a variety of ways. Cauliflower is a great alternative, and healthier option, to mashed potatoes. Generally speaking, most people only eat the heads of cauliflower, but the leaves and stems are also edible and can be used to add extra flavor to soup stocks.


Tips for Getting Vegetables Into Your Diet


Experts recommend a variety of vegetables be included in your diet everyday. If you are having a hard time getting started, try the following suggestions to help increase your intake:

  • Add squash to homemade lasagna
  • Forget the mashed potatoes and use pureed cauliflower instead
  • Use pureed eggplant mixed with garlic and olive oil as a dip at your next party
  • Be adventurous and try a new veggie each week during fall harvest

UW Health's Registered Dietitians provide accurate, evidence-based nutrition information that promotes health and wellness to empower individuals to make healthy lifestyle changes that will enhance their health. Recommendations may vary based on your individual health history. For a personalized nutrition plan contact UW Health to schedule an appointment with a Registered Dietitian. For more nutrition information, visit the Nutrition and Health Library.