ABCs of Cancer-fighting Foods

by Sally Errey, RNCP, RHN
Source: Health Action Magazine Summer 2008

Did you know that many of the top cancer-fighting foods are available at your local market? Humans have eaten such foods since the dawn of civilization, and those who still consume them have much lower rates of cancer. Here in the West we have moved toward highly processed foods that contain unnatural fats, colours, flavours and preservatives. Let's get back to the ABCs of cancer prevention through natural whole foods, which provide important plant nutrients, fibre, vitamins and minerals.

A is for apple. Scientists at Cornell University performed tests on human colon cancer cells and found that apple skins inhibit the growth of cancer cells by 43 percent. Tests on liver cells were even more effective.

B is for beans, blueberries, brown rice and barley (and other grains). Beans are an excellent source of protein and also contain protective fibre, which helps eliminate toxins from the body. Even the colour of the bean's skin is a source of antioxidants. Readily available varieties include red kidney beans, black beans, lentils, chick peas (or garbanzo beans), split peas and pinto beans.

Blueberries are at the top of the most powerful antioxidant foods list. Not only do they pack a punch of vitamin C, which is helpful for immune system function and body repair, but they also contain the blue pigment anthocyanin, a powerful phytochemical.

Brown rice, barley and other grains in their whole form contain soluble and insoluble fibre, which both facilitate hormone excretion and decrease the burden of environmental toxins in the body. Grains such as oats, rye, barley, buckwheat and millet have marked inhibitory effects in the presence of carcinogens due to their lignan content. Studies show that lignans have both anti-tumour and anti-viral effects. Brown rice also contains IP6, a potent antioxidant-animal studies have highlighted the tumour-reducing potential of IP6.

C is for carrots and cruciferous vegetables. Keeping the outer skin on carrots (as with other fruits and vegetables) means you retain many extra cancer-fighting compounds. Carrots belong to the "umbelliferous" group of foods, which contain rich sources of plant chemicals including betacarotene and canthaxanthin. Other foods in this group include parsley, celery, dill, cumin and coriander, so be sure to use these flavourings in your cooking.

The cruciferous vegetable family has long been thought to have cancer prevention properties. Scientists didn't quite know why, but recent studies have shown that these vegetables help the body's toxic waste-disposal system. Cruciferous foods include broccoli, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and watercress.

So, what about the rest of the alphabet? Other foods also have powerful cancer-fighting properties. Use ground flax seed on cereals and salads, incorporate plenty of garlic and don't forget your green tea. Cancer risk can be reduced by up to 40 percent through diet changes, so start shopping for the top cancer-fighting foods today.

Sally Errey is an author and speaker on optimum health through nutrition. She is author of Staying Alive! Cookbook for Cancer Free Living and a Professional Member of HANS. www.stayingalivecookbook.com
 
 
 
 
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