- WHILE tabloid magazines and
television newscasts proclaim so-called miracle cures for cancer, foods
that can reduce the risk of cancer are often no farther away than the
local supermarket produce section.
Protection Against Cancer
More than 200 dietary studies confirm that regularly consuming fruits
and vegetables provides significant protection against cancer.
and vegetables appear to provide protection against cancer at certain
locations. For example, carrots and green, leafy vegetables provide
substantial protection against lung cancer. Broccoli, cabbage, and
cauliflower provide useful protection against colon cancer. In fact,
regular consumption of cabbage has been shown to decrease the risk of
colon cancer by 60 to 70 percent, while the regular use of onions and garlic
can decrease the risk of stomach and colon cancer by 50 to 60 percent.
consumption of tomatoes was found to substantially protect against
The National Cancer Institute has identified about three dozen plant
foods that possess cancer-protective properties. The foods and herbs
with the highest anticancer activity include garlic, soybeans, cabbage,
ginger, licorice root, and the umbelliferous vegetables (including
carrots, celery, coriander, parsley, and parsnips.)
Foods with a
modest level of cancer-protective activity include onions, flax, citrus,
turmeric, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage,
and cauliflower), tomatoes and sweet peppers, brown rice, whole wheat,
oats, barley, mints, rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage, basil, cucumber,
cantaloupe, and berries.
identified a host of cancer-protective phytochemicals in these foods.
And because many of the compounds are fairly heat stable and since most
are not water soluble, they are not appreciably lost in the cooking
Soy: A Miracle Bean
Soybeans contain fairly high levels of several compounds with
demonstrated anti-cancer activity. For example, soybeans are a very rich
and unique source of isoflavonoids, such as genistein. These
isoflavonoids have been shown to inhibit the growth of both human breast
and prostate cancer cells.
Citrus Beyond Vitamin C
Citrus, in addition to its ample supply of vitamin C, folic acid,
potassium, and pectin, contains more than 150 phytochemicals that also
protect our health. Citrus pulp and the white of the orange are rich in
glucarates, substances being studied for their potential to prevent
breast cancer. Tangerines, pink grapefruit, and oranges all contain
significant levels of carotenoid pigments that protect us against
Protection From Whole Grains and Nuts
Because phytochemicals are concentrated in the bran and the germ of the
kernel, the health benefits of grains are maximized when the whole-grain
product is consumed.
Cereal grains and
nuts contain substantial levels of tocotrienols (a natural form of
vitamin E), which strongly inhibit tumor growth.
Benefits of Flax
Flour derived from flaxseed is increasingly being used in bread and
bakery products to add a nutty flavor and to increase the nutritional
and health benefits of the finished product. Flaxseed in the diet can
lower blood cholesterol levels because of its very low saturated-fat
Flaxseed oil is
also very rich source of the omega-3 type of fat. Oil seeds such as
sesame seed and especially flaxseed are very rich sources of lignans.
The colon converts plant lignans to substances that are similar to
estrogens and can bind to estrogen receptors and inhibit the growth of
estrogen-stimulated breast cancer.
Grapes Are Good For You
Red grape juice and red wine contain a significant level of flavonoids
and red anthocyanin pigments that act as antioxidants. Theses substances
protect cholesterol from oxidation, reduce blood lipid levels, and
inhibit blood clot formation, thereby providing protection against heart
It is the
transresveratrol (a flavonoid) content of red wine, rather than the
alcohol content, that has been shown to reduce the tendency of blood
clots to form. Substantial levels of transresveratrol and other
antioxidant compounds are found in the grapes and unfermented grape
juice, clearly safer sources than the red wine. Therefore for obvious
health reasons, we would highly recommend red grape juice over red wine.
Color Your Life
The various pigments provide color to our food and enhance the enjoyment
of the eating experience. Presently, there are about 4,000 known plant
pigments in our food, including thousands of flavonoids and hundreds of
carotenoids and anthocyanins. These pigments do more than just appeal to
our senses; they also protect us from disease.
Herbs For Flavor Also Protect Us
Garlic, onions, and other members of the allium family are rich in
sulfides and other protective substances. Garlic is known to decrease
the tendency of blood clots to form, significantly lower blood
cholesterol levels, and decrease the risk of cancer at many sites.
Terpenoids are responsible for the flavors of many common herbs and
seasonings. Many terpenoids are reported to be useful cancer
chemopreventive agents. A diet which generously uses herbs to flavor the
food will provide a variety of substances that protect against chronic
Check With Your Doctor
As with all diet changes, you want to check with your doctor first if
you are on any medication that could interfere or counteract the
effectiveness of your current medications.
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