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7 Superfoods to Prevent Cancer

Whether you have a history of cancer in your family, or are currently battling the disease, lifestyle factors, including your diet, can make a huge difference in helping you fight off cancer. Here are 7 cancer preventing foods you should read about.

Cancer By Ariba Khaliq / May 08, 2013

Can any food help prevent disease, such as cancer?

The answer is yes -- some foods do show cancer-fighting properties, though no one is yet able to say one food or another can stop cancer in its tracks. Still, a body of research suggests an overall healthy diet filled with colorful fruits and vegetables is the key to skirting heart disease, diabetes, and possibly cancer, too. A comprehensive review of thousands of studies on diet, physical activity, and weight conducted for the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research pointed to the benefits of eating mostly foods of plant origin. Foods such as broccoli, berries, and garlic showed some of the strongest links to cancer prevention. Here are 7 cancer-preventing foods.

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All cruciferous veggies (cauliflower, cabbage, kale) contain cancer-fighting properties, but broccoli is the only one with a sizable amount of sulforaphane, a particularly potent compound that boosts the body's protective enzymes and flushes out cancer-causing chemicals. A recent study done by the University of Michigan on mice found that sulforaphane also targets cancer stem cells i.e. those cells that aid in tumour growth.  According to a study cells eating raw cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower can lower the incidence of lung cancer, especially in people who had quit smoking.


Vitamin C — an antioxidant found in many fruits and vegetables such as grapefruit, oranges, bell peppers, and broccoli — helps to prevent the formation of cancer-causing nitrogen compounds. Diets high in vitamin C have been linked to a reduced risk of cancers of the stomach, colon, esophagus, bladder, breast, and cervix. These results are specific to vitamin C-rich foods, rather than supplements, which seem less reliable. So be sure to pile fruits and veggies on your plate – they're excellent for your body in so many ways!

Image: Getty


Researchers believe that there are many factors in garlic that enable it to fight the cancer. Allyl sulfur, which is found in garlic can slow down the cancerous growth of cells. Phytochemicals in garlic halt the formation of nitrosamines, carcinogens formed in the stomach when you consume nitrates, a common food preservative. According to a study conducted by Lowa Women’s Health, women who have the highest amounts of garlic in their diets have fifty percent less risk of colon cancers than those who ate the least.


According to a research carried by City of Hope, there are six chemicals in pomegranate that suppress aromatase, a substance in the body that helps produce estrogen. About 70 percent of breast cancers need estrogen to grow, so pomegranate is a prime candidate as a breast-cancer-blocking super food.


Tomatoes are the best dietary source of lycopene, a cartenoids that gives them red colour and is a great cancer fighting food. Lycopene helps protect cells from damage caused by extra oxygen in the cells called free radicals. Not only do tomatoes contain lycopene, but they are good sources of vitamins A, C, and E; these are all enemies of cancer-friendly free radicals.


Phytosterols (cholesterol-like molecules found in plants) present in walnuts have been shown to block estrogen receptors in breast cancer cells. Apart from Phytosterols, omega-3 fatty acids present in walnuts are also effective in preventing breast cancer, however, roasted walnuts are not effective in preventing cancer as roasting reduces most of their cancer fighting powers.


According to the study done by Michigan State University, black and navy beans significantly reduce colon incidence in rats. This happens because a diet rich in legumes increases levels of the fatty acid butyrate, which in high concentrations, tends to have protective effects against cancer growth.  In another study by Journal Crop Science, it has been found that dried beans are particularly effective in preventing breast cancer in rats. These studies suggest that women can reduce the risk of breast cancer by eating beans and lentils frequently.


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