If you’re like most folks, cancer has touched your life in some way. No matter whether it was a family member fighting colon cancer, a friend battling breast cancer or you combatting skin cancer you know the terrible toll this devastating disease can take.
A cancer battle puts both your physical and emotional health through the wringer.
That’s why it’s so important to take steps to keep cancer from ever getting the chance to gain a foothold. And, incredibly, a growing stack of studies is revealing how what we put into our cart at the grocery store can help us do just that.
Because, according to experts, choosing the right foods to eat can help you build a wall against this killer. Following are four proven cancer fighting superfoods you should put on your menu starting today.
Avocados are nutritional powerhouses to start with. The funny looking little green fruits are packed to the skin with healthy monounsaturated fats, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. They’re a great source of potassium, B vitamins, vitamin E and folic acid.
In other words, they’re one of the healthiest foods you’ll find in the produce aisle.
Avocados are rich in cancer-fighting carotenoids and other phytonutrients. But it’s one fat in particular that makes the avocado a true anti-cancer superstar. It turns out the avocado compound known as avocatin B targets and kills cancer cells, while leaving healthy cells untouched.
In fact, in a study published in the journal Cancer Research, avocatin B was shown to fight a deadly form of cancer called acute myeloid leukemia (AML).1 The avocado fat extract attacked the leukemia’s stem cells, but left surrounding blood stem cells unharmed.
For best results halve your avocado, carefully remove the seed, cut into quarters and peel the skin off like a citrus fruit.
Broccoli has gotten a lot of attention when it comes to reducing cancer risk. And it’s true, broccoli and broccoli sprouts are great additions to your cancer-fighting menu. But don’t overlook the power of other cruciferous veggies such as the unassuming cauliflower.
Plants in the Brassica family are loaded with glucosinolates, chemicals which break down into a number of cancer cell killing compounds when they are chewed.2 Glucosinolates are the chemicals that are responsible for the pungent smell and pleasantly bitter flavor of the veggies.
Eating cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables can slash your risk of colon and rectal cancer, according to research published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.3 And men, experts say regularly chowing down on cauliflower—and its cruciferous cousins—could send your risk for prostate cancer plummeting.4,5
Shoot for more than five servings a week and you’ll be driving down your risk for lung cancer too.6 Other cruciferous veggies to try include Brussels sprouts, collard greens, cabbage, bok choy, kale, radishes, arugula, turnips and watercress.
Hidden inside butternut squash—and other orange, red and yellow fruits and vegetables—is a powerful carotenoid called beta cryptoxanthin (BCX) that could slash your risk of lung cancer.
But BCX’s benefits don’t end there. The compound could also help halt the spread of cancer if you should still get the disease.
In an exciting animal study researchers showed BCX is able to slash the number of tumors that develop by an astounding 50 to 60 percent.7 The more BCX the mice were given, the more of a reduction was seen, according to the study published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research. And in a second study, performed at the same time, the researchers found the BCX helped fight the spread of lung cancer cells.
The humble lentil is an often overlooked legume. Which is a shame because not only is it one of the easiest and most versatile beans to prepare, it could help you slash your risk of deadly colon and pancreatic cancers.
According to experts, when our folate levels drop too low we put ourselves at risk for the type of DNA mutations that could lead to cancer. But just one cup of lentils packs in an incredible 90 percent of your daily recommended amount of cancer-fighting folate.
Research has revealed getting plenty of dietary folate could help reduce our risk of colon, pancreatic and other gastrointestinal cancers.8 In a large scale study on smokers, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, guys who ate at least the daily recommended allowance of dietary folate were found to have a 50 percent reduced risk of pancreatic cancer, compared to their peers who skipped out on the folate.9
1. “Targeting Mitochondria with Avocatin B Induces Selective Leukemia Cell Death,” Cancer Res. 2015 Jun 15;75(12):2478-88
2. “Glucosinolates: bioavailability and importance to health,” Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2002 Jan;72(1):26-31
3. “Vegetable and fruit consumption and risks of colon and rectal cancer in a prospective cohort study: The Netherlands Cohort Study on Diet and Cancer,” Am J Epidemiol. 2000 Dec 1;152(11):1081-92
4. “Vegetables, fruits, legumes and prostate cancer: a multiethnic case-control study,” Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2000 Aug;9(8):795-804
5. “Plant foods, antioxidants, and prostate cancer risk: findings from case-control studies in Canada,” Nutr Cancer. 1999;34(2):173-84
6. “Prospective study of fruit and vegetable consumption and risk of lung cancer among men and women,” J Natl Cancer Inst. 2000 Nov 15;92(22):1812-23
7. “β-Cryptoxanthin Reduced Lung Tumor Multiplicity and Inhibited Lung Cancer Cell Motility by Downregulating Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor α7 Signaling,” Cancer Prevention Research, November 2016, Volume 9, Issue 11
8. “Folate and cancer prevention: a closer look at a complex picture,” Am J Clin Nutr, August 2007, vol. 86 no. 2 271-273
9. “Pancreatic cancer risk and nutrition-related methyl-group availability indicators in Male Smokers,” J Natl Cancer Inst (1999) 91 (6): 535-541
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