Strong evidence does show that a diet filled with a variety of plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains helps lower risk for many cancers. Here’s some popular “cancer-fighters” that can easily be incorporated into your daily diet:
An apple a day may really keep the doctor away! Apples are a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C and other plant compounds known as quercetin that are important for protecting yourself from colon cancer.
Among the fruits highest in antioxidant power, blueberries contain compounds called anthocyanins that have been shown to decrease free-radical damage to DNA, which can lead to cancer. Anthocyanins in blueberries have also been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer.
Broccoli contains cancer-fighting sulfur compounds called glucosinolates that reduce inflammation, a strong risk factor for cancer. Studies suggest that glucosinolates may activate genes that cause cancer cells to self destruct.
Individuals who drink moderate amounts of coffee (i.e. two 8 oz. cups per day) show a reduced risk of many cancers, especially liver cancer. Chlorogenic acid is one of the major compounds in coffee that might be responsible for these effects.
After garlic is chopped, several anti-cancer compounds called allyl sulfides form. A recent study showed that less than one clove a day may cut prostate-cancer risk in half, and other research links garlic to a lowered incidence of stomach, colon and possibly breast cancers. However, you MUST chop garlic and let it SET ASIDE for ~10 minutes to allow the anti-cancer compounds to form before cooking.
Green Tea is one of the most studied foods for cancer prevention. Its been shown to counter cancer development in the colon, liver, breast, prostate, lung, skin cells primarily because of its high concentration of compounds known as catechins.
Soy contains compounds known as isoflavones, which mimic the action of estrogen. Population studies in Asia show that women who consume large amounts of soy have a lower risk of breast cancer. Several studies also link soy consumption to decreases in lung and colon cancer risks in both men and women.
The red color in tomatoes comes from lycopene, which has been widely known for decreasing the risk for prostate cancer in men. Cooking tomatoes and/or adding a little fat (e.g. salad dressing) helps your body to absorb more lycopene.
Walnuts are rich in several nutrients such as selenium, vitamin E, omega-3 fats and other plant compounds that may be involved in cancer prevention. Animal studies suggest that including walnuts in the diet can help slow or prevent the growth of breast and prostate cancers.
In addition to dietary fiber, whole grains contain many starches and plant compounds known as lignans – all under investigation for anti-cancer effects. Since the insoluble fiber in whole grains does not get digested, it protects your colon against cancer by adding bulk and diluting any harmful substances in the gut. Dietary fiber also promotes growth of a healthy gut microflora (i.e. the good bacteria).
For additional information check out the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) Foods that Fight Cancer website.