Colon Cancer – The Maori Factor

Research by a New Zealand University team into colon cancer has uncovered a very interesting phenomenon that sheds light on why colon cancer may be non-existent in the Maori race.  Naturally this discovery created a spin-off from the original study because if the reason why the indigenous Maori people have avoided colorectal cancer could be found,  then this information would become significant in the constant fight to prevent colon cancer.


Initially researchers looked at The Maori race’s diet, and they discovered that their abundant consumption of both red and purple berries, along with fresh fruits formed a higher proportion of their diet than it did with non-indigenous New Zealanders.    Based upon common practice, researchers were aware of the anti-oxidant value of fruits consumed by the Maori, and they assumed that non-Maori people gained the same amount of anti-oxidants from other fruits and vegetables in which they consumed.   This assumption appeared to cancel out any benefit the Maoris would gain by having a diet high in red and purple fruits and vegetables.  However, once researchers decided to check anti-oxidant levels individually, they then found out that anti-oxidant levels deferred quite significantly between Maori and non-Maori New Zealanders.


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 quite 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 began to point to clues or a hypothesis as to why Maori have 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 anti-aging and many beneficial 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 some nutrients – anti-oxidant food, is better than nothing.

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