I have long believed that people can transform their health with the food they eat. I encourage patients with a wide range of conditions to examine their diets in addition to using traditional medicines and treatments. For some, adopting a healthy diet filled with produce, whole grains, and lean protein can improve symptoms through weight loss. For people with certain diseases, choosing foods with unique wellness-promoting qualities can provide a big boost to your health.
For those looking to actively prevent cancer, the foods you eat can provide great health benefits. Countless studies have been done on the effects of different diets or individual foods on the many types of cancer they can attack. While there is certainly plenty of data out there, I’ve put together information on the most beneficial cancer-fighting nutrients, as well as a list of the top cancer-fighting foods.
How food fights cancer
The easiest way to adopt a cancer diet is to eat mostly plant-based foods — fill about two-thirds of your plate with them. If you envision salads every day for lunch and dinner, start broadening your horizons. Fruits and vegetables are crucial, but beans, whole grains, and tofu are also plant-based. So you can enjoy a tofu and vegetable stir-fry over brown rice; a bean and cheese burrito on a whole wheat tortilla; or a grilled vegetable sandwich with a few thin slices of chicken breast on whole wheat bread.
Everyone needs protein, so don’t cut out lean sources like chicken, fish, and low-fat dairy. Seafood in particular is packed with heart-protecting healthy fats. Just try to eat red meat less often, or make it a tasty component of a meal, rather than the main focus.
Researchers have also selected certain nutrients for their anticancer benefits. Chances are, you’ve heard of antioxidants for a long time, and for good reason. These plant chemicals (there are many different antioxidants with different properties) fight inflammation in the body by neutralizing free radicals. Free radicals are substances in the environment that can damage our cells and cause inflammation, a hallmark of many diseases, from cancer to autoimmune disorders.
Folate, a type of B vitamin, has important anticancer functions. People with low folate levels appear to be more susceptible to DNA mutation. In one study, men who ate the recommended daily amount of folate cut their risk of pancreatic cancer in half. Vitamin D not only strengthens bones and teeth, but also slows the growth of cancer cells. The American Association for Cancer Research reports that a higher intake of vitamin D is associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer.
The 7 Best Foods to Fight Cancer
The foods on this list are packed with anti-cancer benefits. Better yet, none of them are expensive, exotic, or hard to find. Load up your shopping cart with them today and you’ll protect yourself from cancer and improve your overall health for years to come!
1) Tomatoes – Lycopene in tomatoes protects against cervical, ovarian and prostate cancer. Tomato products like sauce, paste, and ketchup are even better sources because of their concentrations.
two) berries – The vivid colors of blueberries, raspberries and blackberries come from antioxidants called anthocyanins, which fight a variety of cancers. Frozen berries are available year-round; try them in smoothies or on cereal.
3) Tea – Both green and black tea contain antioxidants called catechins, which slow down the growth of cancer.
4) Spinach – One of the most nutritious green leafy vegetables, the lutein and vitamin E in spinach fight liver, ovarian, colon and prostate cancer.
5) Garlic – Italians and would-be Italians unite! Garlic fights stomach, esophageal and breast cancer. For the greatest benefits, chop just before cooking.
6) apples – This affordable and delicious fruit that can be enjoyed year-round is high in antioxidants and vitamins, but it also contains quercetin, a plant chemical that may reduce the risk of lung cancer and slow the growth of prostate cancer cells.
7) Pumpkin, Butternut Squash, and Sweet Potatoes – As long as it’s orange, take your pick! These sweet, fiber-rich vegetables are excellent sources of beta-carotene, which can protect the DNA in your cells.