What you eat can drastically affect many aspects of your health, including your risk of developing chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
The development of cancer, in particular, has been shown to be heavily influenced by your diet. Many foods contain beneficial compounds that could help decrease the growth of cancer. There are also several studies showing that a higher intake of certain foods could be associated with a lower risk of the disease.
“In this sense, a diet that contains lots of fruits and vegetables, as well as beans, nuts, seeds, and that is low on simple carbohydrates—sugars and starch—with small amounts of poultry, fish, and meat, is probably the best diet for overall health.”
This article will delve into the research and look at 8 foods that may lower your risk of cancer.
Beans and other legumes are the most nutrient-dense carbohydrate source. They act as an anti-diabetes and weight-loss food because they are digested slowly, having a stabilizing effect on blood sugar, which promotes satiety and helps to prevent food cravings.
They are rich in soluble fiber, which lowers cholesterol levels, as well as high levels of resistant starch, which are not broken down by digestive enzymes. Fiber and resistant starch not only reduce the total number of calories absorbed from beans but are also fermented by intestinal bacteria into fatty acids that help to prevent colon cancer.
It’s lycopene, a free radical-fighting antioxidant, which puts tomatoes on the list. Studies have found that lycopene, when consumed along with oil, wards off a number of cancers including pancreatic, breast, and prostate. Thanks to yet another antioxidant, vitamin c, tomatoes pack a double dose of powerful cancer-fighting punch.
This includes vegetables like spinach, lettuce and kale. These veggies are rich sources of antioxidants like Vitamin C, beta-carotene and lutein that fight off damage causing free-radicals. The American Institute for Cancer Research has shown that chemicals called glucosinolates in these foods reprogram cancer cells to die.
Rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants known as lignans, flax seed helps keep healthy cells from becoming cancerous. Omega-3s have been shown to be particularly effective in combating colon cancer, and provide numerous other health benefits as well, from improved brain function to decreased risk of heart disease.
Broccoli, Cabbage and Cauliflower
These foods are rich in glutathione, an antioxidant which has high radical-killing ability. Also, as good sources of isothiocyanates, they detox the body at a cellular level to prevent cancer. Broccoli in particular is dense in sulforaphane, a compound that boosts the production of protective enzymes in our body to fight cancer.
Carrots and Sweet Potatoes
Several studies have found that eating more carrots is linked to a decreased risk of certain types of cancer. For example, an analysis looked at the results of five studies and concluded that eating carrots may reduce the risk of stomach cancer by up to 26%.
Another study found that a higher intake of carrots was associated with 18% lower odds of developing prostate cancer.
One study analyzed the diets of 1,266 participants with and without lung cancer. It found that current smokers who did not eat carrots were three times as likely to develop lung cancer, compared to those who ate carrots more than once per week.
Try incorporating carrots into your diet as a healthy snack or delicious side dish just a few times per week to increase your intake and potentially reduce your risk of cancer. Still, remember that these studies show an association between carrot consumption and cancer, but don’t account for other factors that may play a role.
Cherries, strawberries, black raspberry and most other berries are super sources of proanthocyanidin antioxidants like vitamin C and vitamin A. Additionally, they possess a powerful antiviral agent called gallic acid that strengthens our immunity system to identify and kill cancerous cells.
Garlic, Onions, Leeks, and Chives
It’s a good thing most of us can’t imagine cooking without at least one of the allium vegetables. Not only do they boost our bodies’ immunity to cancer, they also help destroy cancerous cells.
Allium vegetables are known for their characteristic organosulfur compounds, which are released when onions are chopped, crushed, or chewed. Studies have found that increased consumption of allium vegetables is associated with lower risk of gastric and prostate cancers because they contain compounds that detoxify carcinogens, halt cancer cell growth, and block angiogenesis.