Health Library

Healthy Eating for Colon Health

healthy eating for colon health

Main Article Content

What to Eat to Help Prevent Colon Cancer

A healthy, balanced diet is an essential part of maintaining colon health.  

“Only a small percent of colon cancer is hereditary,” says Sherry Henricks APN/CNP at Northwestern Medicine. “Which means dietary lifestyle choices play a large role in colon health.”

Many of the components of healthy eating ring especially true for colon health. Fresh fruits, fresh vegetables and whole grains are associated with a lower risk of colon cancer especially fruits and vegetables high in beta-carotene. In practice, this means choosing yellow and orange vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and summer squash. In addition, fiber-rich foods such as brown rice, nuts, seeds and beans play a role in promoting colon health. Apples, pears and broccoli are also great choices with fiber benefits. Omega-3 fatty acids, like wild salmon, walnuts and olive or canola oil, can also contribute to a colon-healthy diet and recent research from Northwestern Medicine suggests even coffee could be beneficial

On the flip side, processed foods pose a risk to colon health which means avoiding bacon, sausage, hot dogs and lunchmeats as well as limiting fatty cuts of red meats. 

Eating a healthy diet that promotes colon health is easier and more instinctive than you may expect. It can feature many of the recipes already in your collection. 

If you’re looking to particularly promote colon health, here are three recipes to get you started:

In addition to eating well, maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent colon cancer though screenings like colonoscopies will ultimately be essential to your efforts. Learn more about preventing colorectal cancer from this Q&A with a Northwestern Medicine gastroenterologist.


Interested in hearing more from Northwestern Medicine? Sign up for the Healthy Tips E‑Newsletter for everything from health and wellness ideas to patient breakthroughs to academic and medical advancements.