Your diet can influence your health significantly. Research has shown that a poor diet is a key factor that can increase a person’s cancer risk. Fortunately, you can improve your diet by eating fruits and vegetables that contain helpful nutrients. While no food can prevent cancer, naturally occurring compounds in certain fruits and vegetables can have potent anticancer properties. For example, colorful fruits and vegetables are rich in health-promoting phytochemicals that can help prevent cancer or slow its progression. The more pigment they have, the more nutrients they contain.
Another way fruits and vegetables can help prevent cancer is by aiding weight loss. According to the CDC, being overweight or obese increases your risk of getting cancer. Hence, by eating foods that help you maintain a healthy weight, you lessen your chances of developing certain types of cancers.
Here are five foods that can lower your risk of cancer.
Carrots are packed with cancer-fighting nutrients. They contain vitamins and phytochemicals that may prevent cancers of the stomach, mouth, and esophagus. Carrots also deliver an antioxidant known as beta-carotene. Scientists believe beta-carotene may stunt the growth of cancer cells and protect healthy cell membranes from toxin damage. Some studies hypothesize that the antioxidants in carrots may help fight HPV (human papillomavirus) which is a major cause of cervical cancer.
Also, carrots contain falcarinol, a pesticide found to prevent the development of cancerous tumors in rats. The best way to get more nutrients from carrots is to boil them. Carrots supply more antioxidants when cooked (steamed or boiled) than when eaten raw. Try to boil or steam your carrots whole to prevent the loss of nutrients while cooking and preserve their delicious taste.
Cruciferous vegetables are termed cancer-fighting superfoods because they are an excellent source of glucosinolates. Glucosinolates, upon ingestion, are converted to indoles and isothiocyanates. Both of these compounds have been linked with reduced inflammation, hence lowering the risk of cancer. Several studies have associated the consumption of cruciferous vegetables like kale, broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower with a lowered risk of prostate, colorectal, stomach, and breast cancer.
Glucosinolates have also been found to stimulate enzymes that disable carcinogens and mitigate the spread of cancer cells. Recent studies suggest that certain compounds found in cruciferous vegetables may activate genes that repress tumors, slow the growth of tumors or prompt the natural death of cancer cells (apoptosis). Glucosinolates also aid chemotherapy drugs in treating hormone-linked cancers by moving active estrogen to a weaker form.
Tomatoes are a major source of an antioxidant or phytochemical known as lycopene as well as Vitamins A, C, and E. Studies suggest lycopene may prevent normal cells from transforming into cancer cells because it hinders free radicals, neutralizes singlet oxygen, and prevent oxidative damage of DNA. Lycopene is also effective in reducing levels of LDL cholesterol. This can help maintain a healthy weight and lower the potential of developing certain types of cancer. Combining tomatoes with other antioxidant-rich vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, and kale can increase the nutritional value of your meal.
Strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries contain a phytochemical called ellagic acid, a compound that has cancer-preventive properties. In patients with metabolic syndrome, ellagic acid has been proven to lower cholesterol and reduce lipid peroxidation in small clinical studies. Berries are rich in antioxidants. These antioxidants have been shown to protect the body from cell damage that can lead to skin cancer, as well as cancers of the bladder, lung, breast, and esophagus. Berries are also a good source of Vitamin C, an antioxidant that plays a major role in fighting cancer growth by hindering free radical molecules and preventing the damage they cause to our DNA.
Curcumin or diferuloylmethane, the main active ingredient in turmeric, is known for its various health benefits. Although research in humans is still ongoing, curcumin has been found to inhibit the growth, transformation, and invasion of cancer cells in a variety of cancers. Turmeric can be consumed or added to your meals in its raw form, as a paste, powder, or extract. Add a few spoons to your smoothie or spice your scrambled eggs with a pinch.
Piling nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables in your meals can do a lot of good to your health. Imagine providing your body with multiple sources of powerful antioxidants and phytonutrients. That is what eating healthy to prevent cancer is about. Fortunately, you can hardly reach an overdose of helpful nutrients. Thus, the more you eat, the more you gain good results.
Asides from eating a wide range of nutrient-rich foods, it also helps to cut down on sugar. Sugar may not cause cancer directly, however, it may disarm nutrients and phytochemicals that help protect against cancer. Sugar is also complicit in increasing calories and contributing to excessive weight gain and obesity, which can lead to an increased risk of certain types of cancer.