An anti-cancer diet is an important strategy you can use to reduce your risk of cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends, for example, that you eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily and eat the right amount of food to stay at a healthy weight. In addition, researchers are finding that certain foods may be particularly useful in protecting you from cancer. Make room in your diet for the following foods and drinks to fight cancer.
Several large studies have found that those who eat more garlic are less likely to develop various kinds of cancer, especially in digestive organs such as the esophagus, stomach, and colon. Ingredients in the pungent bulbs may keep cancer-causing substances in your body from working, or they may keep cancer cells from multiplying. Experts don’t know how much you need to eat to prevent cancer, but a clove a day may be helpful.
As a tasty treat, berries are hard to beat. But their juicy goodness also may make them one of the foods to fight cancer. Berries contain particularly powerful antioxidants, meaning they can halt a naturally occurring process in the body that creates free radicals that can damage your cells. Compounds in berries may also help keep cancers from growing or spreading. So, as part of your anti-cancer diet, pick up a handful of blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, or any other favorite berries today.
Some research has found that eating tomatoes may help protect men from prostate cancer. The juicy red orbs can help guard the DNA in your cells from damage that can lead to cancer. Tomatoes contain a particularly high concentration of an effective antioxidant called lycopene. Your body may absorb lycopene better from processed tomato foods such as sauce, which means that whole-wheat pasta with marinara sauce could be a delicious way to help lower your risk of this disease.
Cruciferous vegetables — the group containing broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower — may be particularly helpful in protecting you from cancer. Researchers have found that components in these veggies can protect you from the free radicals that can damage your cells’ DNA. They may also shield you from cancer-causing chemicals, help slow the growth of tumors, and encourage cancer cells to die. They’re a tasty and healthy addition to your anti-cancer diet.
Tea contains antioxidants called catechins, which may help prevent cancer in a variety of ways, including keeping free radicals from damaging cells. Lab studies have found that catechins in tea can shrink tumors and reduce tumor cell growth. Some — but not all — studies in humans have also linked drinking tea to a lower risk of cancer. Both green and black teas contain catechins, but you’ll get more antioxidants from green tea, so you may want to consider a cup or more in your anti-cancer diet.
According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, whole grains contain many components that might lower your risk of cancer, including fiber and antioxidants. A large study including nearly half a million people found that eating more whole grains might lower the risk of colorectal cancer, making them a top item in the category of foods to fight cancer. Oatmeal, barley, brown rice, and whole-wheat bread and pasta are all examples of whole grains.
This orange-colored spice, a staple in Indian curries, contains an ingredient called curcumin (not the same as cumin) that might be useful in reducing cancer risk. According to the American Cancer Society, curcumin can inhibit some kinds of cancer cells in laboratory studies and slow the spread of cancer or shrink tumors in some animals. Turmeric is easy to find in grocery stores, and you can use it in a variety of recipes.
Leafy Green Vegetables
Leafy green vegetables like spinach and lettuce are good sources of the antioxidants beta-carotene and lutein. You’ll also find these nutrients in vegetables that are more traditionally eaten cooked, like collard greens, mustard greens, and kale. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, some lab studies have found that chemicals in these foods may limit the growth of some kinds of cancer cells.
The skin of red grapes is a particularly rich source of an antioxidant called resveratrol. Grape juice and red wine also contain this antioxidant. According to the National Cancer Institute, resveratrol may be useful in keeping cancer from beginning or spreading. Lab studies have found that it limits the growth of many kinds of cancer cells; in men, moderate amounts of red wine have been linked to a lower risk of prostate cancer.
Certain fruits and vegetables and other plant foods get plenty of recognition for being good sources of antioxidants, but beans often are unfairly left out of the picture. Some beans, particularly pinto and red kidney beans, are outstanding sources of antioxidants and should be included in your anti-cancer diet. Beans also contain fiber, and eating a high-fiber diet may also help reduce your risk of cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.