Cancer — the diagnosis that strikes more fear into the heart than all of the others.
If you could make a few changes to potentially help lower your risk, why wouldn’t you? At Healthy Directions, our health experts believe in looking at health and wellness from a holistic perspective.
We research different ways to optimize your health, and today we’ll focus specifically on cancer-fighting foods you can start eating right now.
Why Turn to Foods To Fight Cancer?
When it comes to keeping the body healthy, it’s impossible to overstate the importance of a healthy diet. What you choose to ingest becomes a part of who you are, for better or worse.
Keeping that in mind, and making conscious choices about what you want to eat and drink, can make or break your physical and mental health.
As humans, we’ve been turning to foods to help promote good health for centuries. One of the ways that can harness that knowledge is by incorporating cancer-fighting foods into your diet.
Remember, there aren’t any “magic” foods out there, and no one food can protect you from developing cancer. The goal of these foods isn’t to stop cancer, as nothing can do that 100%, but to lower your risk.
What Foods Destroy Cancer Cells?
Whole foods are often the most healthy, but they gain even more importance in the cancer-fighting foods category. Specifically, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, and other plant-based food may lower cancer risk by delaying cancer cell growth.
But it isn’t the foods themselves that provide all the benefits. The various compounds inside those foods are exceptional, with components like vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, and other nutrients.
Cruciferous vegetables, like cauliflower, are often on the top of the list of the healthiest vegetables, but one in particular — broccoli — stands out as the most beneficial.
The unique power of broccoli is in its high level of sulforaphane, which research has linked to its impact on the risk of prostate cancer specifically. This compound may potentially flush out certain cancer-causing chemicals while also boosting the number of protective enzymes in the body.
Broccoli also contains significant levels of folate, flavonoids, vitamin C, and carotenoids. The more broccoli you eat, the greater your level of protection may be.
Berries and Fruits
If you’re looking for something sweeter, berries can also pack a punch. All berries are known to contain large quantities of phytonutrients. The term is a catch-all for many different varieties of compounds that are produced naturally by plants.
While you may not be familiar with phytonutrients, you’ve likely heard of them before. Antioxidants, carotenoids, and flavonoids are all phytonutrients. Black raspberries contain an exceptionally high number of anthocyanins.
This phytonutrient may help slow down the growth of cancer cells while also stopping additional blood flow from feeding the disease. Citrus fruits like grapefruits may also work to lower your risk of developing certain types of cancer.
Tomatoes are one of the most well-known cancer-fighting foods, primarily due to their lycopene content. Lycopene is a member of the carotenoid category, a phytonutrient that gives many fruits and vegetables their color.
In this case, lycopene is the component that makes tomatoes their trademark red color.
However, lycopene doesn’t just make tomatoes colorful. Lycopene is also a powerful antioxidant, helping to protect the body from oxidative stress and free radical damage.
Antioxidants take the brunt of free radical damage, so the body doesn’t have to.
Not every cancer-fighting food is a type of produce. Certain nuts can also play a role in cancer prevention. Walnuts, in particular, contain a compound known as phytosterols.
These compounds, which are a plant-based form of cholesterol) may help to block estrogen receptors and may potentially slow the growth of breast cancer cells. To gain those benefits, it’s recommended to eat around an ounce a day.
In addition to their potential cancer-fighting benefits, walnuts are also full of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are famous for their cardiovascular benefits, helping to support the heart and reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
Phytosterols and omega-3s also work hand-in-hand with other compounds, like melatonin and ellagitannins, to help fight off the effects of oxidative stress.
Some spics and seasonings, like turmeric and garlic, may also have benefits for cancer prevention.
Turmeric contains a compound known as curcumin, and this compound gives the spice its distinct color. Curcumin is thought to provide a wide range of potential health benefits and may even work to combat swelling in the body.
Are There Any Foods To Avoid?
It isn’t all about eating cancer-fighting foods, though. There are also some foods that you should limit if you’re trying to promote optimal health. Almost everything is ok to eat in moderation, of course.
However, limiting (or stopping entirely) your consumption of alcohol and sugar-laden beverages is a good start. Not only do they significantly increase the risk of weight gain and obesity, but they also contribute to the development of diabetes.
In addition, minimize the number of processed meats in your diet. Sausage, bacon, ham, and hot dogs may all be delicious and easy to make, but the side effect of that convenience is an increase in the number of preservatives you consume.
Unfortunately, in higher amounts, those preservatives can specifically increase your risk of colorectal cancer and stomach cancers. Instead, opt for lean protein like salmon and other fatty fish.
And finally, do your best to limit your intake of red meat (beef, pork, and lamb). Medical professionals recommend no more than three portions a week, or 12 - 18 ounces total in various forms. Like processed meats, red meat consumption may increase your colon cancer risk.
Incorporating more cancer-fighting foods into your diet is an easy way to reduce your risk. Not only that, but these foods are great for your body in general, helping to optimize your overall health and wellbeing.
For more tips and suggestions on other ways to make small changes for potentially significant results, you can trust the professionals at Healthy Directions.