Incorporate these foods into your diet to help prevent cancer.
The causes of cancer are complex, but inflammation appears to be a primary
culprit behind cancer growth, and part of the reason why tumors get started
in the first place. Just as it is in heart disease,
Alzheimer’s and diabetes, inflammation and free radical damage are found at the very
root of cancer.
Many studies point to cancer-preventative qualities in foods that reduce
inflammation. Some research suggests that 30 percent of all cancers can
actually be prevented by following a diet high in antioxidants, those
natural anti-inflammatory nutrients found in many fruit and vegetables.
Here are some of the top inflammation-lowering foods:
Leafy Green Vegetables
Leafy green veggies top the list of healthy things you can eat, because
they are absolutely loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, bioflavonoids,
carotenoids and other cancer-preventive compounds. Fruits and vegetables
that are vibrant in color – green, orange and deep red – are
the ones that provide the most health benefits. And the leafy greens are
the best of the best: spinach and kale, collard greens, mustard greens,
romaine lettuce and arugula. These contain compounds that encourage cancer
cells to die off, and help prevent tumors from forming and growing.
Chop leafy greens into salads, braise them, juice them, or bake them into casseroles and chips.
Orange Vegetables and Fruits
Sweet potatoes, squash, oranges, pumpkin, carrots, beets and tangerines
signal the presence of antioxidants by their sunny orange colors. If you
have dark green veggies on your plate, be sure to have some orange-colored
ones, too – by “eating the rainbow,” you enjoy the fullest
array of cancer-preventing benefits in food. The complex carbs and carotenoids
in orange fruits and veggies are known to reduce the risk of several types
of cancer, and strengthen the immune system. Roasted yams, steamed squash
and cooked baby carrots only need a dash of salt or spice to bring them
Red and Purple Berries
Scientists have found that
berries contain the highest antioxidant levels of all fresh fruits, which make
them an important part of a cancer-preventative diet. Black and red raspberries,
tart cherries, strawberries, goji berries, blackberries and especially
blueberries lower free radical damage and help prevent cancer. Since berries
are so easy to eat out of hand, and easy to use in recipes, they are also
the easiest way to “eat yourself away” from cancer.
Cruciferous vegetables like
broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage are known to be generally good
for you, but not everyone knows how good they are at preventing cancer.
These veggies are packed with strong antioxidants that protect the structure
of DNA and scoop up free radicals. Studies have shown that people who
consume large amounts of cruciferous veggies often have dramatically lower
rates of colon, breast and uterine cancers. Preparation: Try roasting,
steaming, stir frying, chopping into salads and soups, or simply dipping
in yogurt for a healthy snack.
Nuts and Seeds
Chia seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are full
of nutrients, and they have been shown to be extremely effective against
cancer. Even a couple of tablespoons per day can help slow the growth
of colorectal, prostate and lung malignancies. Walnuts, Brazil nuts and
almonds contain the important mineral selenium, which dramatically lowers
the risk of cancer. Nuts make a convenient snack, and they can also be
toasted and added to salad, cereal, yogurt and baked goods.
Fresh Herbs and Spices
Herbs and spices like ginger, turmeric, raw garlic, thyme, black pepper,
cayenne pepper, oregano, basil and parsley are powerful immune system
boosters that are known to reduce the risk of cancer. Turmeric has been
shown to reduce tumor size in colon and breast cancers, and ginger has
been shown to slow ovarian and colorectal cancers. Turmeric can be added
to stir-fried vegetables, scrambled eggs and salad dressing, to name a few
recipe ideas. Try sliced ginger in tea, and grated ginger in savory dishes.
Black and Green Teas
While there is a huge variety of herbal teas on the market, traditional
black and green teas are considered the best sources of cancer-inhibiting antioxidants. In
one study, women who drank at least two cups of black tea daily had a
32 percent lower risk of ovarian cancer, compared with those who drank
one cup or less per day. Green tea has also been seen to decrease cancer
risk. Both black and green teas are rich in the polyphenolic compounds
which keep tumors from growing and spreading to other organs. Since metastasis
is the principle cause of death in cancer patients, the value of tea-drinking
cannot be overlooked. Whether it is served hot or cold, a cup of tea twice
a day is a simple way to help keep cancers at bay.
Lauren Blechle, MS, RDN, LD, is a registered dietitian nutritionist at Covenant LifeStyle Centre
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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical
care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.