The holidays are often hailed as the peak season for indulgence and weight gain, but there’s no better way to celebrate than with delicious foods that are good for you. The bountiful autumn harvest brings a colorful array of cancer-protective vegetables, fruits and nuts to the holiday table.

Vegetables, fruits and nuts are rich in numerous vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, compounds with caner-fighting potential found only in plants.

Since there are few things Texans love more than friends, family and good food, fill your table with recipes highlighting these holidays staples and feel good about it.

• Cranberries – cranberries are a powerful source of flavonoids, a family of phytonutrients with antioxidant and anti-cancer properties.

• Sweet potatoes – this gorgeous, golden-orange tuber is packed with fiber, which has been shown to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.

• Cruciferous vegetables – cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, mustard greens and kohlrabi. These vegetables contribute generous amounts of powerful, anti-cancer phytonutrients, known as glucosinolates.

• Citrus – soon our markets will be overflowing with oranges, pommelos, grapefruit, lemons and limes. Their vitamin C, folate and fiber are essential for a cancer-protective diet.

• Pomegranates – pomegranate seeds are high in vitamin C and a good source of fiber. In addition, they contain numerous phytonutrients and contribute vibrant color to many holiday dishes.

• Nuts – think of nuts as dense bundles of cancer-fighting nutrition-phytonutrients, fiber, “good” fats, protein, and a host of vitamins and minerals, such as folic acid, vitamin E and selenium.

• Garlic – the unique cancer-fighting phytonutrients found in garlic, allyl sulfur compounds, are responsible for garlic’s unmistakable aroma. In the Middle Ages, garlic was worn in one’s shoe to prevent illness. It may also modestly reduce cholesterol.

“Choosing a balanced-diet, rich in a variety of colorful vegetables and fruits as well as whole grains, is an excellent step toward a diet which is nutrient packed and will promote health,”  Texas Oncology’s Dr. Carolyn Matthews said. “Many holiday favorites are the perfect combination full of color, flavor and nutrient-rich.”

In Texas alone, more than 90,000 people, the fourth highest incidence in the nation, are diagnosed each year with cancer, some of which could have been prevented with proper diet.

Here are a few quick tips to give holiday recipes and food choices a flavor-forward nutritional makeover:

• Use healthy oils, such as olive oil, canola oil or other vegetable oils instead of butter or lard, whenever possible.

• Add chopped nuts, such as pecans, walnuts or hazelnuts for added nutrients, fiber, crunch and flavor.

• Make salads colorful, using dark, leafy greens and variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables.

• Serve whole grain bread with meals.

• Incorporate seasonal fruits into desserts.

• Choose dark chocolate with at least 60 percent cocoa, which contains antioxidant polyphenols.

Texas Oncology is looking out for Texans’ health, providing them with the top technologies and treatment options, available in its 98 centers across Texas and New Mexico.

Patients with Texas Oncology have the ability to take part in some of the most promising clinical trials in the nation.

In fact, Texas Oncology has played an integral role in gaining Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for many of the latest cancer therapies.

For more information on Texas Oncology, visit