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26 Best Cancer Fighting Foods

cancer fighting foods

If you're looking for natural ways to prevent cancer, take heart: there are a variety of natural cancer-fighting foods that may help reduce your risk of developing cancer thanks to their high concentration of anti-carcinogenic nutrients such as isothiocyanates, ellagic acid and catechins. Here's a list of some of the best cancer fighting foods.

#1: Raspberries

Raspberries are bursting with nutrients and flavor, yet they are very low in calories. One of the most interesting compounds in raspberries is ellagic acid which is a natural anti-carcinogen, anti-mutagen, and an inhibitor of cancer. In some cases, it has also been able to cause apoptosis (cell death) in cancer cells. Ellagic acid is found in a number of foods, with red raspberries being one of the best sources of this miraculous substance (1,500 mcg per gram of dry weight fruit extract). Further, the ellagic acid found in red raspberries retains its potency through heating and freezing. So, regardless of whether you eat your raspberries fresh, frozen or heated, you will reap their cancer-fighting benefits.

#2: Turmeric

In Asia, the health benefits of turmeric are truly legendary. But in recent years, also western medicine has started to pay greater attention to this extraordinary spice and healing food that has been used in traditional Asian medicine to treat a vast range of conditions and diseases. Modern research shows that turmeric possesses a wide range of anti-cancer properties that may make it effective against many types of cancer. Turmeric has been found to contain a compound that can identify potential cancer cells by their abnormal chemistry and consequently induce self-destruction of these harmful cells (process known as "apoptosis") — without damaging healthy cells. Furthermore, turmeric contains strong antioxidant compounds and may prevent nitrosamine formation and inhibit aflatoxin production — two processes that have been associated with an increased risk of cancer.

Asparagus is packed with the master antioxidant glutathione.

#3:  Asparagus

Asparagus is at the top of the list of foods with the highest concentration of glutathione (349 nM glutathione/g wet weight), a 'master antioxidant' that has gained the spotlight in recent years. The glutathione in asparagus appears to have widespread functions, many of which may contribute to a reduced risk of cancer. For example, it has been shown to be effective at detoxifying foreign substances including carcinogens, boosting the immune system by influencing lymphocytes, and protecting cells against free radical damage. Asparagus also contains a wealth of other antioxidant compounds, including beta-carotene, vitamin C, and N-acetylcysteine. As an additional bonus, this extraordinary anti-carcinogenic food is typically low in pesticides.

#4:  Green Tea

The weight loss promoting effects of green tea are legendary, but the health benefits green tea can offer are not limited to weight loss benefits; evidence suggests that green tea may also help prevent many types of cancer. Catechins, the same compounds that are responsible for green tea's weight loss promoting properties, have been shown to be extremely effective at protecting cells against DNA damage caused by free radicals. But the anti-cancer activities of green tea do not end there. In vitro experiments indicate that green tea can also inhibit nitrification in the body, a reaction that has been linked to certain cancers, including esophagus cancer and stomach cancer. What's more, green tea has been shown to suppress urokinase, a type of enzyme that has been shown to be particularly active in cancer patients and that is likely to play a key role in cancer cell metastasis (spreading). When buying green tea, choose loose tea leaves instead of tea bags as the release of catechins is better from loose leaves. You may also want to add a bit of lemon juice or other vitamin C rich juice to your tea — research suggests that vitamin C can increase the amount of catechins available for the body to absorb.

Brussels sprouts
Brussels sprouts can be an excellent addition to your anti-cancer diet.

#5:  Brussels Sprouts

If you can develop a liking for their strong, slightly bitter taste, Brussels sprouts can be one of the best additions to your anti-cancer diet. A number of studies have found an inverse correlation between a diet high in cruciferous vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, and the risk of cancer. The mechanisms by which Brussels sprouts exert their chemopreventive effects are thought to include alterations to the metabolism of carcinogens and reduction of free radical damage. Further, these little green veggies are low in calories and have a low glycemic rating. As a bonus, Brussels sprouts — even the non-organically grown produce — are typically low in pesticides.

#6:  Arugula

While extremely low in calories, arugula (also known as rocket salad, roquette, rugula and rucola) is loaded with health promoting phytochemicals. This aromatic salad green is a particularly good source of glucosinolates which turn into isothiocyanates, with the help of an enzyme called myrosinase, when the plant is chewed. Isothiocyanates are known to neutralize carcinogens and to inhibit cancer cell proliferation. Studies suggest that arugula may help lower the risk of several types of cancer, including lung, esophageal, and gastrointestinal cancers.

#7:  Onions

This versatile culinary plant can provide a real health boost to anyone and to reduce the odds of cancer. Onions are one of the best natural sources of quercetin, a bioflavonoid that has anti-cancer, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. According to one study, half an onion a day could reduce the risk of stomach cancer by 50%. As an additional bonus, the onion tops the list of vegetables that are least likely to contain significant amounts of pesticides and other potentially carcinogenic chemicals.

#8:  Horseradish

Horseradish can add a nice kick to scrambled eggs, salads, and vegetable dishes, but its benefits are not purely culinary. Horseradish contains a substantial amount of glucosinolates, compounds that have been shown to boost the liver's ability to detoxify carcinogens. In addition, some researchers have found that glucosinolates might also suppress the growth of cancerous tumors. Many cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts, contain glucosinolates, but the amounts found in horseradish are much higher (according to research, horseradish has up to 10 times more glucosinolates than broccoli).

#9:  Cabbage

A regular consumption of cabbage has been shown to help protect susceptible individuals against cancer. This protective effect is believed to be linked to glucosinolates, anti-carcinogenic compounds that are formed when cabbage is sliced, chopped, or chewed. It seems that these products are able to limit the amount of DNA damage and cell mutation as well as to inhibit the processes that prevent programmed cell death and promote uncontrolled cell growth. In order to benefit from its anti-cancer properties, consume cabbage raw or short-cooked; cooking denatures the enzyme that is responsible for the production of glucosinolates. It is also advisable to buy organically grown cabbage as organically grown produce has been shown to contain significantly higher amounts of glucosinolates than its conventionally grown counterpart.

#10:  Organic Celery

Celery provides vitamin C and vitamin E, a stellar nutrition combo for fighting cancer. But the anti-cancer properties of celery do not end there. In fact, celery is known to contain at least eight families of cancer-combating compounds. It is a great source of phthalides, a class of bioactive chemical compounds that seem to act as effective chemopreventive agents. It also contains acetylenics and phenolic acids, which have been shown to inhibit the growth of tumor cells, and coumarins, which help protect cells from free radical damage (high doses of coumarin are toxic, however). When buying celery, it is important to opt for organically-grown produce because conventionally-grown celery typically contains very high levels of contaminants, including chlorothalonil which is believed to be carcinogenic.

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