Which Fruits and Vegetables Boost DNA Repair?

“In the light of strikingly consistent observations from many epidemiological [population-based] studies, there can be little doubt that the habitual consumption of diets high in fruits and vegetables helps to reduce the risk of development of degenerative diseases, including many types of cancers.” Not satisfied with merely telling people to eat their fruits and veggies, scientists want to know the mechanism.

Not just vehicles for antioxidants, fruits and vegetables contain innumerable phytonutrients that can boost our detoxification enzymes, modulate gene expression, and even modulate DNA repair pathways.

“Until fairly recently…it was generally assumed that functions as important as DNA repair were unlikely to be readily affected by nutrition,” but, if you compare identical twins to fraternal twins, only about half to three quarters of DNA repair function is genetically determined. We may be able to control the rest.

“It is estimated that, on average, there are 800 incidents of DNA damage [in our bodies] per hour,” which is about 19,000 hits to our DNA every day. What’s more, “that DNA damage can cause mutations and give rise to cancer, if not repaired.”

Thankfully, “the regulation of [DNA] repair can be added to the list of biological processes that are influenced by what we eat—and, specifically, that this might constitute part of the explanation for the cancer-preventive effects of many plant-based foods.”

Any plants in particular? Nine fruits and vegetables were tested to find out which ones were better able to boost DNA repair: lemons, persimmons, strawberries, oranges, choy sum (which is like skinny bok choy), broccoli, celery, lettuce, and apples. Which ones made the cut? Lemons, persimmons, strawberries, broccoli, celery, and apples all conferred DNA protection at very low doses.

Lemons, for example, were found to cut DNA damage by about a third. Was it the vitamin C? No. Removing the vitamin C from the lemon extract did not remove the protective effect. However, if you first boiled the lemon for 30 minutes, the protective effect was lost.

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations—2015: Food as Medicine: Preventing and Treating the Most Dreaded Diseases with Diet, and my latest, 2016: How Not to Die: The Role of Diet in Preventing, Arresting, and Reversing Our Top 15 Killers.

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141 comments

Jaime J
Jaime J4 days ago

Thank you!!

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LF F
LF F4 days ago

But what kind of lettuce? All? And what kind of apples? I never realized how many varieties there are now?

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Angela J
Angela J4 days ago

Thank you.

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Leo C
Leo C4 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Janis K
Janis K5 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

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mac C
mac C5 days ago

I eat all of these that "made the cut" except for celery, but like it also. Thanks... useful information!

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Julia R
Julia R5 days ago

Thanks for this great info!

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Mark T
Mark T5 days ago

Ty.

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federico bortoletto
federico b5 days ago

Grazie per la condivisione

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Amanda M
Amanda M5 days ago

Thanks for sharing

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