If you’re like most people, you have been affected by cancer. Someone close to you may have it, or you might have been diagnosed yourself. You may feel like there is nothing you can do to avoid it.
However, there are some steps you can take to lower your risk of cancer. And some of those preventative measures involve the foods you eat. While there are no sure-fire nutrients that can ward off cancer, there are some that may help.
In general, cancer experts suggest that two-thirds of your plate should be filled with fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains. Here are some specifics:
- Cruciferous vegetables: These include cauliflower, broccoli, kale, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. Research indicates that they include enzymes that may help stop the growth of cancerous tumors in the lungs, esophagus, stomach, colon, liver, cervix, and breasts.
- Dark, leafy vegetables: The antioxidants in spinach, chicory, mustard and collard greens, and romaine lettuce may protect against cancer of the mouth and stomach. They may also stop the growth of skin cancer cells. The folate in these foods may fight pancreatic cancer, while the fiber is a great defense against colon cancer.
- Berries: The ellagic acid in strawberries, raspberries, and other berries can help prevent lung, bladder, skin, and breast cancers. The fiber in these fruits can also help keep colon cancer at bay.
- Flaxseed: You may find it hard to incorporate flaxseed in your diet, but one easy way is to toss a spoonful into a smoothie or muffin mix. Flaxseed is a good source of lignans and omega-3 fatty acids. These nutrients can help prevent certain cancers, as well as heart disease.
- Tomatoes: These red jewels are a terrific source of lycopene, a nutrient that can help prevent prostate cancer. You can benefit from raw and cooked ones, as well as tomato sauce and tomato juice.
- Beans: The fiber in lentils, peas, and other legumes plays a big role in defending against colon cancer. Also these foods contain phytochemicals that prevent cell damage that can lead to a variety of cancers. There is evidence that foods made from soybeans (tofu, miso, tempeh) have cancer-fighting properties as well.
- Whole grains: Forget the white bread! Studies have shown that whole grains are better for you. The fiber and phytochemicals they contain help prevent colon and other cancers. Try brown rice, whole grain pasta and cereal, kasha, and tabouleh.
- Grapes: These little fruits contain resveratrol, which is a cancer-fighting phytochemical. Red grapes seem to contain more than green ones, so stick with those. Research suggests that resveratrol can help kill liver, stomach, and colon cancer cells.
- Tea: Green tea is a great source of flavonoids called catechins, and studies have shown that they can prevent or slow down the growth of lung, skin, liver, breast, and prostate cancer cells. White tea has shown potential for killing colon polyps as well.
It may seem daunting to incorporate these foods into your diet, but give them a try. Make big leafy salads, and choose whole grain rice over the white variety. Let your imagination run wild so you create healthy, cancer-fighting meals.