Colon Cancer – The Maori Factor

Recent research by a New Zealand University team into colon cancer has uncovered a very interesting phenomenon that sheds light on why colon cancer is almost non-existent in the Maori race. Naturally this fact created a spin-off from the original study because if the reason why the indigenous Maori people avoided this disease could be found they would gain precious information to help the constant fight to prevent colon cancer.

Initially they looked at diet and discovered that both red and purple berries and fruits formed a higher proportion of their diet than it did with non-indigenous New Zealanders. Based upon common practice they were aware of the anti-oxidant value of fruit and assumed that non-Maori people gained the same amount of anti-oxidants from other fruit and vegetables. This appeared to cancel out any benefit the Maoris gained by having a diet high in red and purple fruits and vegetables. That was until they decided to check anti-oxidant levels individually.

The results of the independent checks of anti-oxidant levels across a wide range of fruits and vegetables discovered that rather than these levels being the same, as commonly thought at the start of the experiments, they vary widely. For instance fruits with red or purple skins like berries, plums, red apples and even red skinned sweet potato have around four times the anti-oxidant levels of other fruits and vegetables. At this point the entire project started to make sense and the higher levels of ant-oxidants in a traditional Maori diet pointed to the reason for such low levels of colon cancer within the race.

The research continues today but based upon these findings there is strong reason to eat more strawberries, raspberries, redcurrants, cherries, plums, red apples and sweet potato in our daily diets. In fact any fruit or vegetable with a red or purple skin contains around four times the anti-oxidant level of other fruits and vegetables and therefore should be utilized in our diets for health reasons.

Somebody is bound to raise the question of whether frozen is as a good as fresh fruit. Here I can only give a personal opinion and state that whenever we cook, or freeze, foodstuffs we change the chemical make-up of the food and therefore it is unlikely to be the same as eating it fresh and uncooked. But, if frozen is all that is available then I guess its better than nothing.

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This article is copyright David McCarthy 2005. It may be reproduced in its entirety with no additions.