Did you know that only 5-10% of cancer can actually be attributed to genes? This is becoming more & more common knowledge proven by research time and again. So, what about the other 90-95% of all cancers? Totally preventable by diet, lifestyle, and environment according to a 2008 study in the Pharmaceutical Research Journal.
Their study mentioned some of the obvious ones like cigarette smoking, fried foods, red meat, sun exposure, alcohol, obesity, stress, environmental pollutants, infections & physical inactivity. But, they also went on to say that increasing fruits & vegetables, minimal meat consumption (hello plant-based diet!), & use of whole grains to be 3 of the important ways to prevent cancer!
Obesity has a strong link to cancer so one of the most important things you can do to reduce your risk is lose excess weight – and one of the best ways to lose weight, is through a filling, fiber-rich diet including plenty of fruits and vegetables.
But that’s not the reason why the National Cancer Institute recently approved the dietary guidance: “Diets rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of some types of cancer and other chronic diseases.” It’s because these foods are also packed with antioxidants and other compounds that protect your DNA and fight free radical damage.
Since these substances work synergistically, it’s best to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables rather than relying on one particular produce item to serve as a magic bullet against disease. That said, recent studies have uncovered specific benefits in the following foods that would recommend making them a part of a healthy diet!
1. Cancer Fighting Tomatoes…Don’t Forget the Pasta Sauce!
Lycopene, also found in watermelon and pink grapefruit, has been linked to lower risk of prostate, ovarian and cervical cancer. It also targets the free radical that is implicated in lung and digestive cancers.
Concentrated amounts of tomatoes, like tomato sauce, tomato paste, marinara sauce, and even ketchup are actually great sources of Lycopene! Just look for brands that are lower in sodium and don’t have a lot of added sugar or oil. Also, be sure to choose cans that are BPA free (or use glass jars which are naturally BPA free).
Check out these anti-cancer tomato rich dishes:
2. Broccoli Sprouts Bust Away Cancer
One forkful of broccoli sprouts triggers a cascade of antioxidant activity that lasts for days to help prevent cancer.
Add broccoli sprouts to any salad, wrap, or smoothie for a quick boost of antioxidants.
3. Berries Are Powerful Antioxidants
Blueberries, cranberries, cherries, raspberries, strawberries, grapes – all rich in anthocyanins that repair and protect DNA.
Berries make the perfect breakfast addition to your whole grain oatmeal or muesli, chia seed pudding, or smoothie. Grab a handful for a quick snack or satisfying dessert.
Add super cancer fighting berries to your morning routine:
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4. Soybeans Get a Bad Rap…They PROTECT Against Cancer
Isoflavones such as genistein may help prevent and treat prostate cancer and may reduce breast cancer risk.
Unfortunately, soy gets a bad rap because of early hypothesis that were quickly disproven but unfortunately these myths keep spreading. Whole, minimally processed soy is very healthy – just like any other bean! Tofu, tempeh, soy milk are examples of minimally processed soy products.
However, highly processed soy products like isolated soy protein & concentrated soy proteins, like those found in vegan protein powders & faux meats, are unhealthy and in fact may increase cancer risk just like their meat counterparts because it can raise IGF-1 levels in the same way due to the concentrated level of protein.
Don’t be afraid of tofu! Try these easy recipes that are perfect for beginners:
- Thai Red Curry with Tofu & Vegetables
- Homestyle Tofu Sloppy Joes
- Coconut Crusted Tofu w/ Pineapple Sauce
5. Tea Time for an Anticancer Cocktail
Both black and green teas contain powerful compounds shown in countless studies to lower the risk of several types of cancer.
Just make sure to not fill your tea with a ton of processed sugar. Instead, try just a squeeze of lemon for a burst of flavor and even more health benefits.
6. Powerfully Perfect Pumpkin
This unsung super-food is a super-rich source of both beta-carotene and alpha-carotene, two hard-working carotenoids that combat lung and ovarian cancer and pumpkin is LOADED with beta-carotene.
Make this fall favorite a year-round staple in your household with canned pure pumpkin in your pantry.
Have a pumpkin party and power away cancer with these recipes:
7. Spinach, just like Popeye, Packs a Punch Against Cancer
Popeye’s favorite may help ward off cancers of the liver, ovaries, colon and prostate. Similarly, the active antioxidant lutein is also found in kale and other leafy greens.
Eat your greens & fight cancer with these delicious recipes:
- Easy Instant Pot Turnip Greens
- Vegan Black Bean & Spinach Enchiladas
- Strawberry Spinach Salad
- Tangy Spinach Hummus
8. Garlic & Onions, Aren’t Just for Vampires
Allium veggies (which also include onions and scallions) work to get your body’s own antioxidant defense systems in gear. This process provides protective benefits against stomach, esophageal and breast cancers.
Get your garlic & onion anticancer cooking on:
9. Pineapple: Sweet Treat to Beat Cancer
The enzyme bromelain may inhibit the growth of malignant cells in both lung and breast cancer, while the phenolic compounds also provide a protective benefit.
These sweet pineapple recipes hit the spot:
10. Magical Mushrooms, the Kind You Eat, Not the Other…
Mushrooms, which are actually a fungi and not a fruit or vegetable, don’t get enough attention for their powerful anti-cancer properties. Common mushrooms contain antigen-binding lectins that bind to abnormal cells, activate the bodies defenses, and prevent cancer cells from replicating. Mushrooms even prevent DNA damage, slow cancer cell growth, cause programmed cancer cell death, and prevent tumors from acquiring a blood supply. This as been shown in breast, prostate & colon cancers.
And it only take a small amount! Just ONE thumb size portion daily showed a 64% decrease in risk of breast cancer. It was even more dramatic for those who also added green tea daily – there was up to an 89% decrease in breast cancer risk.
This doesn’t require any fancy or hard to find mushrooms – white, cremini, portobello, oyster, maitake, shitake, & reishi mushrooms have all shown anticancer benefits.
One important note – make sure to always cook mushrooms just to be on the safe side because some have toxic effects when eaten raw.
Try these anticancer magical mushroom recipes:
- Portobello Mushroom Burgers
- Onion Mushroom Black Bean Burgers
- Tofu Breakfast Scramble Burritos (with spinach & mushrooms)
At the end of the day ALL whole plant foods are powerful anti-cancer foods in their own different ways. By eating a wide variety of whole, unprocessed plants we getting so many of these amazing phytonutrients that we are only just beginning to scratch the surface of our understanding.
IMO, doctors should be asking less about family history and more about diet & lifestyle, since that is what causes 90-95% of cancers. Eat the rainbow! (and no, I don’t mean skittles LOL)
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