Prevention is better than cure. While we can’t easily eliminate cancer just by eating better, prevention starts by making healthy choices, including what goes into your mouth every day.
Most causes of cancer are environmental: excessive exposure to the sun, tobacco and chemicals present in the food you feed your stomach.
There are countless articles and books about cancer-fighting foods. Many claim that if you eat this or that, you’ll be cancer-free. The truth, however, is that eating these foods daily does not guarantee that you’ll avoid cancer. Rather, they contain cancer-fighting properties that help to lower your risk of getting cancer.
Here are the top foods to help decrease your risk of getting the life-threatening disease.
All cruciferous vegetables, including cabbage, kale, and cauliflower, contain properties that fight cancer. Among them, broccoli is the only vegetable that contains a significant amount of the potent compound sulforaphane, which helps the body by flushing out chemicals that cause cancer and boosting the body’s protective enzymes.
Broccoli fights certain types of cancer like prostate, lung, liver, stomach, breast and skin, so be sure to eat it together with omelets, salads and even pizza.
This is good news for tea drinkers. Tea has flavonoids, including a certain type called kaempferol, which has been shown to have antioxidant and cancer-protecting effects. In particular, it protects against ovarian cancer in women.
It also has catechins, another type of antioxidant, which help to prevent cancer by blocking free radicals by damaging cells. Lab studies also found that these antioxidants have the ability to shrink tumors. Black and green teas have catechins, but you’ll get more in green tea because it has more antioxidants.
Known to have a significant quantity of lycopene, tomatoes help to fight lung, prostate, stomach and endometrial cancers. According to a study conducted by Nutrition and Cancer, the lycopene in tomatoes can stop the cell growth of endometrial cancer, a type of cancer that claims up to 8,000 lives annually.
There are many different types of berries and all of them contain phytonutrients, which help protect the body from cancer. Black raspberries have a high concentration of anthocyanins, a type of phytochemical that helps to slow down premalignant cell growth. Berries help to fight against oral, skin, colon and esophageal cancers.
This popular spice, which has been known to fight nausea, may possibly be used in fighting cancer, too. According to a study conducted at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, ginger kills cancer cells in two ways.
Researchers have found that during apoptosis, cancer cells commit suicide without causing any harm to the surrounding cells. However, the cancer cells digest themselves in autophagy. This is very promising, but it hasn’t yet been tested in either animals or people.
Walnuts have phytosterol, a choleaterol-like molecule that has the ability to block estrogen receptors in breast cancer cells to slow their growth. Walnuts help to fight prostate and breast cancers.
According to the Iowa Women’s Health Study, women who consume a more garlic-rich diet have a 50% less chance of getting colon cancer than those who eat less garlic and none at all. Garlic has phytochemicals, which stop the formation of nitrosamine, a type of carcinogen in the stomach.
A Michigan State University study found that black and navy beans reduce the number of incidences of colon cancer in rats. This is due to the beans’ fatty acid called butyrate, which has been shown to possess protective effects against growth of cancer cells. So, be sure to add a half-cup serving of beans to your diet at least twice weekly.
Red grapes, grape juice and red wine all have resveratrol, an antioxidant that limits the growth of cancer cells and may be helpful in preventing cancer cells from spreading, according to the National Cancer Institute. Consuming a moderate amount of red wine daily has been linked to lower risks of prostate cancer in men.
Whole grains contain components like antioxidants and fiber, which may lower the risk of colorectal cancer, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research. The study included almost half a million test subjects. Whole grains to include in your cancer-fighting diet are barley, brown rice, oatmeal, pasta and whole wheat bread.
A staple in Indian curry, orange-colored turmeric contains an ingredient called curcumin, which inhibits and slows down cancer cells as they grow and attempt to spread and shrinks tumors, according to the American Cancer Society. You can find turmeric in grocery stores and supermarkets.
Every year, thousands of people die from different types of cancer. Studies are continuing in an effort to find the ultimate cure for cancer. While researchers and experts do their work, we can also do our part in actively taking care of our bodies by choosing healthy, cancer-fighting foods and living an active lifestyle.
How important is healthy eating for you? Do you know of any foods that help to lower the risk of getting cancer? Let us know in the comments.
Maine Belonio is a twenty-something mom and writer who has a penchant for coffee, long distance running, Tolkien, Switchfoot, and Jesus.
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