If we told you that you could significantly reduce your risk for cancer simply by changing your diet, you’d do it, right? Of course, you would. You’d clear the processed foods from your cupboards and ditch the soda from your fridge. Well, guess what? It’s time to clean house.
The American Cancer Society estimates that nearly one-third of all cancer deaths are diet-related, with obesity, physical inactivity, excess alcohol consumption and poor nutrition contributing to 20% of total cancer diagnoses in the US. One easy way to reduce your risk for cancer is to make healthier food choices by focusing on plant-based foods. Plant-based foods are proven to, both directly and indirectly, fight cancer.
Here is a list of our five favorite cancer-fighting foods.
Top five cancer-fighting foods.
- Açaí berries – Antioxidants are well known for their ability to fight cancer and no other food is higher in antioxidants than açaí. Free radicals attack your cells, lowering your ability to fight diseases like cancer. Peroxyl radicals – scavenger radicals that steal precious oxygen from your cells – are shown to be particularly affected by açaí berry supplementation, making açaí one of the most effective fighters of free radicals.1
- Broccoli – Ever heard of sulforaphane? If not, let us make the introduction. Sulforaphane is a chemoprotective compound found in cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli and cauliflower, that may help thwart, or even destroy, certain cancers in the body. The idea is simple: your body is designed with natural cancer-suppressing genes. Sometimes, those genes go awry and don’t recognize tumor growth. Sulforaphane has the ability to turn these genes on and off in response, effectively regulating your body’s cancer-fighting processes.
- Chili peppers – Red hot chili peppers are more than a great band – they also help you fight cancer. Capsaicin, the principal component of chili peppers, is thought to cause apoptosis (spontaneous combustion) of tumor cells. A laboratory study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that capsaicin can inhibit mitochondrial respiration in tumor cells, leading to their ultimate demise.2 Spice up your life with chili peppers.
- Mushrooms – Long used in traditional Chinese medicine, mushrooms are a powerhouse of immunity. Shiitake and maitake mushrooms are especially potent. In Japan, lentinan, a compound found in shiitake, is used as an alternative and complementary treatment of cancer. Known for its anti-tumor properties, lentinan is associated with higher survival rates and a lower occurrence of cancer.3 Maitake mushrooms, on the other hand, are shown to have anti-metastatic properties that inhibit the proliferation of cancer within the body. Both are chock full of antioxidants for an extra cancer-fighting boost.
- Strawberries – Good news! Strawberries are as healthy as they are tasty, especially when it comes to preventing cancer. Rich in antioxidants like vitamin C and ellagic acid, these little berries pack a punch. Ellagic acid has anti-cancer properties that ramp up the production of detoxifying liver enzymes. That means your body gets rid of harmful substances faster. Strawberries also contain flavonoids, which suppress an enzyme often associated with lung cancer. Blueberries, black tea, oranges, and parsley are also rich in flavonoids.
Eat healthy, whole foods.
Cancer-causing foods are everywhere. They’re the lunch meat in our sandwiches; the “diet” foods in our diets; the refined sugars we feed our children. It’s up to you to remove them from your home. Instead, replace those foods with healthy whole foods like those listed above. And remember, this is not an exhaustive list. There are many more foods that can help you fight cancer. So, do your research and put together your own list. As a general rule of thumb, your plate should always be made up of two-thirds fruits and veggies.
Everything you wanted to know about detox diets and cleanses, in one guide.
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- Schauss, A. G., Wu, X., Prior, R. L., Ou, B., Huang, D., Owens, J., . . . Shanbrom, E. (2006). Antioxidant Capacity and Other Bioactivities of the Freeze-Dried Amazonian Palm Berry, Euterpe oleraceae Mart. (Acai). J. Agric. Food Chem. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 54(22), 8604-8610.
- Hail N, Lotan R. Examining the Role of Mitochondrial Respiration in Vanilloid-Induced Apoptosis. J Natl Cancer Inst 2002; 94:1281–92
- Chilkov, D. N. (n.d.). Six Cancer-Fighting Medicinal Mushrooms. Retrieved October 29, 2016, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nalini-chilkov/cancer-foods_b_1192207.html