8 Foods That Help Prevent Cancer

When you go grocery shopping, you may have several things on your mind—your schedule, your budget, your family’s tastes. But amid these pressing concerns, there’s a long-range benefit you may not be thinking about: preventing cancer.

Research continues to link certain compounds in foods to a lower risk of cancer. The science behind how these compounds do this is complex. One way to understand it is to realize that your body’s environment is affected by your dietary choices.

Read to learn eight foods that you should add to your grocery list.

Ready to Make Your List?
Here are some specific foods to get you going in the right direction:

Broccoli. Packed with antioxidants and phytochemicals, including sulphorophane. “Sulphorophane is proposed to stimulate enzymes that help detoxify potential carcinogens,” says Colleen Doyle, M.S., R.D., of the American Cancer Society. Other cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and kale are also rich in sulphorophane.

 Coldwater fish such as salmon have high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. “The highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids are found in free-range wild game, and the colder the temperature [where they are found], the higher the omega-3 levels will be,” says Keith Block, M.D., editor of Integrative Cancer Therapies.Other coldwater fish include char, sardines, tuna, herring, anchovies, bluefish and halibut.

 High in beta carotene, which helps plants absorb light, according to Ronald R. Watson, Ph.D., author of Functional Foods & Nutraceuticals in Cancer Prevention (Iowa State Press, 2003). Beta carotene accumulates in the fat under the skin and seems to absorb some of the radiation energy from sunlight, possibly reducing the risk of skin cancer. Squash, pumpkin and green, leafy vegetables are other sources of beta carotene.

Walnuts. High in omega-3 fatty acids. “Walnuts have 2.5 grams of omega-3 fat per ounce, while most other nuts have around 0.5 grams per ounce,” says Michael Roizen, M.D., co-author of The RealAge Makeover and The RealAge Diet (both from HarperResource), and co-founder of RealAge Inc. Aim for 5 ounces of walnuts a week.

Flax. Rich in fiber and omega-3 fats. Flax contains compounds called lignans, which help inhibit estrogen production and may reduce the risk of breast cancer and other female cancers, Block says. Grind a tablespoon or two of flaxseeds in a coffee grinder and mix it into cereal or a smoothie, or include it when baking bread or cookies.

Tomatoes. High in antioxidants and the phytochemical lycopene. “Lycopene can prevent cellular damage and abnormal cell replication and growth,” Block says. Lycopene is best absorbed in cooked tomato products. In a Harvard study, men who ate two or more servings a week of tomato sauce or other cooked tomato products had a 20 percent less chance of developing prostate cancer, Doyle says. Lycopene may also reduce breast cancer risk and is found in red grapefruit and watermelon as well as tomatoes.

Onions. Along with garlic, onions contain the phytochemical allicin. “I compare its action to Lysol,” says 5 A Day’s Valerie Green, explaining that allicin acts as an antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial agent, and may zap toxins related to cancer development.

 High in ellagic acid, a phenolic compound. “Phenolics are a category of phytochemicals that protect cells from free radical damage,” Doyle says. Other sources are red grapes, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries. Berries are also high in a class of phytochemicals called anthocyanins, which act as powerful antioxidants, Green says.

Accredited Cancer Center
Gwinnett Medical Center is accredited by the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons. As an accredited cancer program, we take a multidisciplinary approach to treating cancer as as a complex group of diseases that requires consultation among surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, diagnostic radiologists, pathologists and other cancer specialists. This multidisciplinary partnership results in improved patient care. To learn more about our cancer program, click here

Need Help
Our certified dietician's at the Diabetes & Nutrition Education Center can help you develop a personalized plan to meet you and your family needs. Call 678-312-6046 to schedule an appointment today. 


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