October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so this article highlights the cancer fighting nutrients found in the following pink and red fruits. But don’t stop at these five fruits! According to the National Cancer Institute, people whose diets are rich in plant foods such as fruits and vegetables have a lower risk of developing certain types of cancer.

  1. Pink Grapefruit

    Pink grapefruit is grown in the U.S. as well as in other countries such as Israel, South Africa, and Brazil.

    Nutritional Benefits Citrus fruits contain high levels of vitamin C, but grapefruit also contains phytonutrients called limonoids which may hinder tumor formation by promoting tumor fighting enzymes. Grapefruit is also a rich source of fiber which is important for colon and heart health.¹

  2. Apples

    Apples are a member of the rose family. The apple tree originated in Central Asia, but apples are now grown in most states across the U.S. Apple varieties number in the thousands.

    Nutritional Benefits We’ve all heard the saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” There’s some truth to that. Apples were recently added to the American Institute of Cancer Research’s list of “Foods That Fight Cancer.”²

  3. Watermelon

    Watermelon is thought to have originated in the Kalahari Desert in Egypt over 5,000 years ago.³ The U.S. ranks fifth in worldwide production of watermelon.

    Nutritional Benefits Watermelon contains several different carotenoids (powerful antioxidants), including lycopene. Studies have shown an association between diets high in lycopene and reduced risk of prostate, breast, and oral cancer, among others.? Watermelon is also an excellent source of the antioxidant vitamin C.

  4. Pitaya (Dragon Fruit)

    Pitaya (dragon fruit) is a member of the cactus family and is grown primarily in Southeast Asia and Central and South America. This football-shaped fruit has a red, white, or yellow leathery skin, and it contains hundreds of tiny black edible seeds with a mildly sweet flavor.

    How To Pick The ripe fruit will have bright and even-toned skin. Pick it up and give it a light squeeze. If it gives a little, it’s ready to eat. If it is really firm, give it a day or two to ripen up at room temperature.

    How To Eat Slice all the way through the pitaya from end to end and separate the two halves. Run a tablespoon along the inside of the skin, all the way around the edges, and scoop out the flesh. Discard the skin. Slice the fruit’s flesh and enjoy all by itself, in a bowl of cereal, in a fresh fruit salad, or in a tropical fruit smoothie.

    Nutritional Benefits Pitayas are another source of lycopene. They are also high in vitamin C, a well-known antioxidant which protects the body from carcinogenic (cancer-causing) free radicals.

  5. Pomegranate

    The pomegranate is an ancient fruit native to Asia and is now cultivated throughout the Mediterranean, Southeast Asia, East Indies, Africa, and even in the United States. The outside of the fruit is red and the inside contains edible kernels surrounded by a tart juice.

    How To Pick Choose a pomegranate that is dark or bright red, heavy for its size, and has tight skin. If you apply pressure and run your finger along the skin of the fruit, it should not pucker or wrinkle.

    How To Eat Video How to Open a Pomegranate

    Nutritional Benefits Pomegranates contain high levels of phytochemicals including flavonoids and polyphenols, which studies have shown to help inhibit development of several forms of cancer including breast, prostate, and colon cancer. Just one serving (half a pomegranate) contains over five grams of fiber and is an excellent source of vitamin C.


Think Pink Smoothie
Yields 6 servings


    • 1 cup light vanilla yogurt
    • 1 pink grapefruit, peeled & sectioned
    • ½ cup pomegranate juice
    • 1 cup frozen red grapes
    • 1 apple, cored
    • 1 dragon fruit, peeled
    • 1 cup watermelon chunks


  1. Wash all fruit prior to peeling or slicing. Remove peels and rinds, slice, and core fruit, as appropriate. Leave skin on apple.
  2. Add all ingredients to blender and mix until smooth. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Facts (per 8 oz serving)
Calories 110, Total Fat 1 g , Sat. Fat 0 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Sodium 25 mg, Carbohydrate 23 g, Fiber 3 g, Protein 3 g, Vitamin C 38%


¹ Song J.K., Bae J.M. “Citrus fruit intake and breast cancer risk: a quantitative systematic review.” J Breast Cancer 2013 Mar;16(1):72-6. Epub 2013 Mar 31.

² Gao K., Henning S.M., Niu Y., et al. “The citrus flavonoid naringenin stimulates DNA repair in prostate cancer cells.” J Nutr Biochem 2006 Feb;17(2):89-95. Epub 2005 Jun 20.

³ National Watermelon Board Website

⁴Zhang C.X., Ho S.C., Chen Y.M., et al. “Greater vegetable and fruit intake is associated with a lower risk of breast cancer among Chinese women.” Int J Cancer 2009 Jul 1;125(1):181-8.

Allison Reed, RD
Corporate Dietitian
Spartan Stores

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