The Anti-Cancer: Food Edition

These days everyone has to be concerned about cancer. Many cancers are linked to the environment, then when you add stuff like food and beauty product ingredients into the mix and it's seemingly unavoidable. Take me, for example, I am a perfectly healthy 26 year old who doesn't eat meat or processed foods and I never go tanning (and never have) yet I still got melanoma. Luckily we can all be proactive in preventing cancer as much as possible, and one of the ways we can do that is through food.

Here are 5 of the anti-cancer foods taken from Caring.com

  1. Blueberries, Acai Berries, and Grapes. The rich, dark colors of blueberries, Brazilian acai berries, and purple grapes come from phytochemicals that protect against numerous types of cancer. Most recently, researchers at the University of Florida found that the active ingredient in acai berries destroyed cancer cells when tested in cell cultures. And blueberries and muscadine grapes contain compounds that recent research shows cause cancer cells in the liver to self-destruct. In fact, the anti-cancer properties of these berries are so strong that researchers have developing concentrated supplements and other products such as purees and concentrates.
  2. Green Tea. One of the first plant-based chemicals to be studied for its anti-cancer properties, catechins -- the chemicals in green tea -- have been known for some time to prevent and reduce recurrence of breast and other cancers. With this particular chemical, experts even know why: a chemical known as EGCG inhibits breast tumor growth, a University of Mississippi study shows. Just two cups a day is enough to do the trick.
  3. Tomatoes. Harvard researcher Edward Giovannucci reviewed 72 different studies published by the National Cancer Institute, and concluded that lycopene, the active chemical in tomatoes, lowered the risk of many different cancers, particularly prostate cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer and colon cancer. Subsequently, the FDA conducted a review of its own and disagreed, refusing food companies' request to label tomato products with an anti-cancer health promotion message. However, many experts believe the FDA's process was flawed and that tomatoes will be vindicated by further studies. The good news: cooking tomatoes seems to enhance the effects of lycopene, qualifying tomato-based spaghetti sauce as a nutritional powerhouse. Bring on the pasta!
  4. Broccoli and Cabbage. British researchers made headlines last year with a study that showed that men with early signs of developing prostate cancer prevented tumor growth by eating broccoli four times a week. Other studies have shown anti-cancer benefits from eating cabbage, brussels sprouts, and other cruciferous vegetables.
  5. Garlic, Leeks and Onions. According to the National Institutes of Health, studies of people from Southern Europe who eat a diet high in garlic and onions show a direct relationship between high consumption of "allium" vegetables (all types of garlic, onions, and leeks) and reduced risk of many common cancers.
You can also cut down your risk of cancer by reducing your meat intake. Your diet should focus on plant based foods, if you eat meat it should be eaten as a side and not the main entree.

  • Keep meat to a minimum. Try to keep the total amount of meat in your diet to no more than fifteen percent of your total calories. Ten percent is even better.
  • Eat red meat only occasionally. Red meat is high in saturated fat, so eat it sparingly.
  • Reduce the portion size of meat in each meal. The portion should be able to fit in the palm of your hand.
  • Add beans and other plant-based protein sources to your meals.
  • Choose leaner meats, such as fish, chicken, or turkey. If possible, buy organic.
  • Avoid processed meats such as hotdogs, sausage, deli meats, and salami.
Eating a diet high in fat increases your risk of cancer. Don't cut fat totally out of your diet, but avoid saturated and trans fat. Saturated fats are mainly found in animal products like red meat and whole milk dairy products. The good kinds of fat are unsaturated fats and those come from plant sources. Primary sources are olive oil, canola oil, nuts, and avacadoes.

  • Boost your antioxidants. Antioxidants are powerful vitamins that protect against cancer and help the cells in your body function optimally. Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of antioxidants such as beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium.
  • Eat a wide range of brightly colored fruits and vegetables. Colorful fruits and vegetables are rich in phytochemicals, a potent disease–fighting and immune–boosting nutrient. The greater the variety of colors that you include, the more you will benefit, since different colors are rich in different phytochemicals.
  • Flavor with immune-boosting spices and foods. Garlic, ginger, and curry powder not only add flavor, but they add a cancer-fighting punch of valuable nutrients. Other good choices include turmeric, basil, rosemary, and coriander. Use them in soups, salads, casseroles, or any other dish.
  • Drink plenty of water. Water is essentially to all bodily processes. It stimulates the immune system, removes waste and toxins, and transports nutrients to all of your organs. 

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