Some cancer risk factors, such as genetics and the environment, are out of your control, but research suggests that about 70% of your lifetime cancer risk is able to change, including your diet. Avoiding cigarettes, limiting alcohol, achieving a healthy weight, and exercising regularly are all great steps to prevent cancer. Eating a healthy diet can also play a vital role. What you eat – and don’t eat – can have a powerful effect on your health, including your risk of cancer. While research tends to indicate associations between specific foods and cancer, rather than strong cause and effect relationships, certain eating habits can have a major influence on your risk.
Beans are rich in fiber which, according to some studies, can help protect against colorectal cancer. One study says that with a history of colorectal tumors and found that those who ate more cooked and dry beans tended to reduce the risk of tumor recurrence. An animal study also found that feeding rats with black beans or white beans and then inducing colon cancer blocked cancer cell development by up to 75%. According to these results, eating a few servings of beans each week can increase your fiber intake and help reduce the risk of developing cancer.
Cut down on sugar and refined carbs
Consuming refined carbs that cause rapid spikes in blood sugar has been linked to an 88% greater risk of prostate cancer, as well as other serious health problems. Instead of sugary soft drinks, sweetened cereals, white bread, pasta and processed foods like pizza, opt for unrefined whole grains like whole wheat or multigrain bread, brown rice, barley, quinoa, bran cereal, oatmeal, and non-starchy vegetables. It could lower your risk for colorectal and prostate cancer as well as help you reach a healthy weight.
Some studies have also found that a higher intake of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli may be linked to a lower risk of colorectal cancer. One analysis of 35 studies showed that eating more cruciferous vegetables was associated with a lower risk of colorectal and colon cancer. Including broccoli with a few meals per week may come with some cancer-fighting benefits. However, keep in mind that the available research hasn’t looked directly at how broccoli may affect cancer in humans.
Instead, it has been limited to test-tube, animal and observational studies that either investigated the effects of cruciferous vegetables, or the effects of a specific compound in broccoli.
Boosting the cancer-fighting benefits of food
Here are a few tips that will help you get the most benefits from eating all those great cancer-fighting foods, such as fruit and vegetables:
Eat at least some raw fruits and vegetables as they tend to have the highest amounts of vitamins and minerals, although cooking some vegetables can make the vitamins more available for our body to use.
When cooking vegetables, steam only until tender. This preserves more of the vitamins. Overcooking vegetables removes many of the vitamins and minerals. If you do boil vegetables, use the cooking water in a soup or another dish to ensure you’re getting all the vitamins.
Wash all fruits and vegetables. Use a vegetable brush for washing. Washing does not eliminate all pesticide residue, but will reduce it.
Flavor food with immune-boosting herbs and spices. 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. Try using them in soups, salads, and casseroles.