Definitions and terms

Allergens are substances that are usually harmless but are capable of producing an allergic reaction in some people. Major allergens that can cause severe reactions must be listed on food labels. These include peanuts, tree nuts (e.g. almonds, cashews, walnuts), fish, shellfish, milk, eggs, sesame, soy, wheat, sulphites, lupin and gluten-containing grains.

Allium vegetables include garlic, onion, leeks, chives and shallots.

Beta-carotene is a type of carotenoid found in plants that can be converted in the body into the active form of Vitamin A. Beta-carotene is found naturally in yellow, orange, red and green fruit, and in green, leafy vegetables. These include rockmelon, oranges, carrots, spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli and pumpkin. As a rule of thumb, the greater the intensity of the colour of these fruit or vegetables, the more beta-carotene they contain.

Carotenoids are a sub group of phytochemicals. Carotenoids are a family of more than 600 fat-soluble red, orange, and yellow pigments found in varying concentrations in all vegetables, but particularly in those that are red, orange or yellow. They are the main pigments that give vegetables these colours. Sources of carotenoids include spinach, kale, pumpkin, red capsicums, carrots, tomatoes, sweet potato and rockmelon.

Convincing evidence exists if data strongly supports a causal relationship between the exposure and the risk of a particular cancer. There is enough evidence to justify recommendations designed to reduce the risk of cancer. It is unlikely that this will change in the future as new evidence accumulates.

Dietary Fibre is a part of plant food that our bodies cannot digest. There are different types of fibre, including soluble fibre, insoluble fibre and resistant starch, and all are beneficial. Wholegrain and wholemeal foods are high in dietary fibre. Examples include; wholegrain or wholemeal bread, muffins, pita, crumpets and crispbreads, wholegrain breakfast cereals, muesli, oats, brown rice and wholemeal pasta. Other foods high in dietary fibre include fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes such as baked beans, peas, chickpeas, kidney beans and lentils. Sources of resistant starch include under-ripe bananas, uncooked rolled oats, cooked and cooled potatoes and lentils.

Legumes are also referred to as pulses and include peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas. They are a good source of vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre, carbohydrate, protein and iron. 

Non-starchy vegetables contain a lower amount of carbohydrates compared to starchy vegetables like potatoes, sweet potato, corn and peas. Non starchy vegetables include carrots, beets, parsnips, turnips and swedes as well as green leafy vegetables (such as spinach, lettuce), cruciferous vegetables (such as bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, watercress) and allium vegetables.

Phytochemicals are compounds found in fruit, vegetables, beans, grains and other plant foods. Thousands have been identified, including many with antioxidant properties. Antioxidants protect cells against damage and may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer. The best way to get more phytochemicals into your diet is to increase your daily intake of fruit, vegetables, wholegrains and legumes.

Probable evidence indicates there is data strong enough to support a probable causal relationship between the exposure and the risk of a particular cancer. There is enough evidence to generally justify recommendations designed to reduce the risk of cancer.

Processed meat is meat that has been preserved by smoking, curing, salting, fermentation, or by adding preservatives such as nitrites or nitrates. Examples of processed meat include ham, bacon, pastrami, salami, bratwursts and frankfurters. Note: ordinary Australian BBQ sausages aren't classified as processed meat as they are not smoked or cured with nitrates/ nitrites.

Many of the above definitions are taken from expert reports developed by the World Cancer Research Fund.