The Top Anti-Cancer Foods
I’ve long believed that people can transform their health through the foods they eat. I encourage patients with a variety of medical conditions to review their diet in addition to using traditional treatments and medications. For some, a healthy diet full of produce, whole grains, and lean protein can improve symptoms with weight loss. For people with certain medical conditions, choosing foods with unique wellness-promoting properties can provide a major boost to their health.
For those who want to actively prevent cancer, the foods you eat can have great health benefits. Countless studies have been conducted on the effects of different diets or individual foods on the many types of cancer that can occur. While there’s certainly a lot of data, I’ve put together some information on the most useful nutrients to fight cancer, as well as a list of the best anti-cancer foods.
How food fights cancer
The easiest way to implement an anti-cancer diet is to eat mostly plant-based foods—fill about two-thirds of your plate. If you envision salads for lunch and dinner every day, start to broaden your horizons. Fruits and veggies are key, but beans, whole grains, and tofu are also plant-based. So you could enjoy a tofu and vegetable stir-fry over brown rice; a bean and cheese burrito in 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 skimp on lean sources like chicken, fish, and low-fat dairy. Seafood, in particular, is packed with healthy fats that protect your heart. Just try to eat red meat less often, or make it a flavorful part of a meal instead of making it the focal point.
Researchers have also singled out certain nutrients for their anti-cancer benefits. You’ve probably heard about antioxidants for a long time, and with 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 diseases.
Folate, a type of B vitamin, has important anti-cancer functions. People with low folic acid levels seem to be more prone to mutations in their DNA. In one study, men who consumed the recommended daily dose of folic acid reduced their risk of pancreatic cancer by half. Vitamin D not only builds strong bones and teeth, but also slows the growth of cancer cells. The American Association for Cancer Research reports that increased intake of vitamin D is associated with a reduction in the 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. Stock your shopping cart today, and you’ll be protecting yourself from cancer and boosting 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 due to their concentration.
2) Berry – The vibrant 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 granola.
3) tea – Both green and black tea contain antioxidants called catechins, which inhibit cancer growth.
4) spinach – One of the most nutritious leafy greens, lutein and vitamin E in spinach fight liver, ovarian, colon and prostate cancer.
5) garlic – Italians and Italians-to-be, rejoice! Garlic fights stomach, esophagus and breast cancer. For the greatest benefit, chop just before cooking.
6) apples – This affordable, delicious, year-round fruit is packed with antioxidants and vitamins, but also contains quercetin, a plant chemical that may reduce the risk of lung cancer and slow the growth of prostate cancer cells.
7) Squash, butternut squash and sweet potatoes – As long as it’s orange, take your pick! This sweet, fiber-rich vegetable is an excellent source of beta-carotene, which can protect the DNA in your cells.
Thanks to Mark Rosenberg, M.D.