Food and Nutrition

How to Help Prevent Cancer with Fruits and Veggies

| by Michael Allen

While we don’t have a golden bullet to cure cancer, there are some tools that can help reduce our chances for various kinds of cancer.  The good news is we can pick up these tools at the local grocery store. In fact, some of these tools may be the very foods that you’re eating right now.

According to Dr. Richard Béliveau, of the University of Québec at Montreal, "All the studies on cancer and nutrition point to eating plant-based foods for their phytonutrients and other special compounds.” What does that mean in plain simple English? You should eat certain types of fruits and vegetables, and we’re going to tell you which ones.

Cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower and cabbage contain cancer-fighting properties, which is great, but broccoli is the only one with a sizable amount of sulforaphane, a potent compound that boosts the body's protective enzymes and flushes out cancer-causing chemicals in the breast, liver, lung, prostate, skin, stomach, and bladder.

Over in the world of fruits, black raspberries carry high concentrations of phytochemicals called anthocyanins, which can slow down the growth of pre-malignant cells.  They also keep new blood vessels from forming to feed a cancerous tumor, says Gary D. Stoner, PhD, a professor of internal medicine at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. Black raspberries can help prevent colon, esophageal, oral and skin cancers.

Did you know that tomatoes are the best source of lycopene? This is a carotenoid that gives tomatoes their red hue, says Dr. Richard Béliveau. Why is that important? In a study of nutrition and cancer, lycopene was found to help stop endometrial cancer cells, which cause nearly 8,000 deaths a year. Lycopene also helps fight lung, prostate, and stomach cancers.

If you like nuts, try walnuts. They contain phytosterols, which are cholesterol-like molecules found in plants. Phytosterols have been shown to block estrogen receptors in breast cancer cells, possibly slowing the cells' growth, according to Elaine Hardman, PhD, of Marshall University School of Medicine in Huntington, West Virginia. Phytosterols also help prevent prostate cancer in men.

When you consume a nitrate such as garlic, you’re getting more than bad breath. Phytochemicals in garlic have been found to help stop the formation of nitrosamines, which are cancer-causing carcinogens formed in the stomach and in the intestines. An Iowa Women's Health Study found that women with the highest amounts of garlic in their diets had a 50 percent lower risk of certain colon cancers than women who ate the least.

A Michigan State University study found that black and navy beans significantly reduced colon cancer incidence in rats, mostly because a diet rich in the legumes actually increased levels of the fatty acid butyrate, which has protective effects against cancer growth. Another study found that dried beans were particularly effective in preventing breast cancer in rats.

By eating these yummy foods, you can lower chances for several types of cancer and for other killers such as a heart disease and diabetes. It’s much easier to win a battle when you fire the first shit, now you’re got some tasty ammunition.