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10 Cancer-Fighting Foods

10 Cancer-Fighting Foods

I’m going to put my Mommy hat on here, place my hands on my hips, look down at the broccoli you left on your plate, and tell you this: Eat your vegetables! Not because I’m a member of the clean-your-plate club, but because I care about you–and because I know this: in numerous studies following large groups of people, eating more vegetables and fruits has been linked to a lower risk of lung, oral, esophageal, stomach, and colon cancer. The thinking behind these results points to antioxidants and phytochemicals, natural compounds found in plants.

What are antioxidants? As described by the American Cancer Society (ACS), the body seems to use certain nutrients in vegetables and fruits to protect against damage to tissues that happens constantly as a result of normal metabolism (oxidation). Because such damage is linked with increased cancer risk, the antioxidant nutrients are thought to protect against cancer. Antioxidants include vitamin C, vitamin E, carotenoids, and many other phytochemicals (beneficial plant compounds).

Lab coat aside, it’s really a no-brainer. Eat real food, stay healthier. So now you’ve got not only a host of government programs telling you to eat your 5 to 9 servings of fruit and vegetables per day, you’ve got me hovering over your shoulder telling you to do the same! But I’ll go easy on you and offer up a few other plant-based suggestions as well. Here are ten super-duper cancer-fighting foods to add to your regime–these ten were chosen for their special cancer-kicking properties, as described on the Living Strong Living Well page of the Stanford School of Medicine Health Improvement Program.

 

1. Beans

Beans contain a number of phytochemicals, which have been shown to prevent or slow genetic damage to cells. While this makes beans beneficial for helping to reduce your risk of many types of cancer, specific research has suggested they are especially potent in preventing prostate cancer. As an added bonus, the high fiber content of beans has been connected with a lower risk of digestive cancers. Read about cool beans here.

2. Berries

The two most widely studied cancer-fighting compounds in berries are ellagic acid (richest in strawberries and raspberries) and anthocyanosides (richest in blueberries). Ellagic acid is believed to help prevent skin, bladder, lung, and breast cancers, both by acting as an antioxidant and by slowing the reproduction of cancer cells. The anthocyanosides in blueberries are currently the most powerful antioxidants known to scientists and are beneficial in the prevention of all types of cancer.

3. Cruciferous Vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale)

Cruciferous vegetables — like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale — are rich in a variety of compounds that have been shown to slow cancer growth and development in a number of laboratory studies. Other larger human studies have shown that cruciferous vegetables can help to reduce the risk of lung, stomach, colorectal, prostate, and bladder cancers.

4. Dark Green Leafy Vegetables

Leafy-green vegetables — like romaine lettuce, mustard greens, chicory, and Swiss chard — are rich sources of antioxidants called carotenoids. These compounds scavenge dangerous free radicals from the body before they can promote cancer growth. The vegetables are also rich in folate, a vitamin shown to reduce the risk of lung and breast cancer. Read more about gorgeous leafy greens!

5. Flaxseed

Flaxseed in the form of oil and meal contains phytoestrogens believed to reduce the risk of breast, skin, and lung cancer. Research on the potency of flaxseed as an anti-cancer food is still underway.

6. Garlic (including onions, scallions, leeks, and chives)

Garlic contains a number of compounds believed to slow or stop the growth of tumors. One such compound, diallyl disulfide, appears to be especially potent in protecting against skin, colon, and lung cancer, though it is not known exactly how it functions.

7. Grapes

Grapes and wine contain a chemical called resveratrol, which has been shown to be a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. Resveratrol is thought to work by preventing cell damage before it begins. Red and purple grapes are the richest sources of resveratrol.

8. Green Tea (decaf)

Green tea is a rich source of a class of flavonoids known as catechins. Laboratory studies have shown that the catechins present in green tea are able to slow or prevent the development of cancer in colon, liver, breast, and prostate cells.

9. Tomatoes

The anti-cancer compound in tomatoes, lycopene, has been shown to be especially potent in combating prostate cancer. This compound appears to be more easily absorbed if the tomatoes are eaten in cooked form-either as tomato sauce, paste, or juice. In addition to preventing prostate cancer, lycopene may also protect against breast, lung, stomach, and pancreatic cancer.

10. Whole Grains

Whole grains contain a variety of anti-cancer compounds, including fiber, antioxidants, and phytoestrogens. When eaten as part of a balanced diet, whole grains can help decrease the risk of developing most types of cancer. For more, see 7 Whole Grains to Add to Your Diet.

Related:
Top 10 Foods That Increase Cancer Risk
7 Ways to Slash Cancer Risk
12 Foods With Super Healing Powers

Read more: Cancer, Diet & Nutrition, Eating for Health, General Health, Health, , ,

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.

211 comments

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10:20PM PDT on May 28, 2015

Thanks for sharing.

6:07PM PDT on May 28, 2015

Thank you for this info!

12:45PM PDT on Apr 10, 2015

yummm!!!!

8:45AM PDT on Mar 15, 2015

Thanks 🐸

7:35AM PDT on Mar 8, 2015

ty

6:16AM PDT on Mar 8, 2015

Thank you

5:02PM PST on Mar 5, 2015

Yummy

10:42AM PST on Feb 20, 2015

Thanks

10:54AM PST on Feb 15, 2015

Thanks for the info...very useful information. Spread the word!

4:19PM PST on Feb 13, 2015

Live long and prosper!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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So few comments for such a long time being posted! How sad. I like what the author said Taking re…

I don't have any scented cosmetic, and I am not tossing my perfume, though I don't wear it much.

Thanks for this useful information.

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