Eat to Live: Cancer Preventing Foods
We’ve all heard the old saying: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. When it comes to cancer, however, it’s really the truth. Harsh treatments like chemo and radiation leave patients feeling sicker than when they were diagnosed.
While there are no guarantees when it comes to staying healthy or not (we’ve all heard of a person who smoked like a chimney and never exercised but still lived into their 90s) science has pinpointed some cancer-preventing foods that it pays to incorporate into your daily diet. Here is a run down of those foods, and how they work to make you healthy.
It pays to eat your greens. Broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower all contain uniquely high amounts of two organosulfur compounds. These two molecules help prevent cancer by boosting your body’s own defense system; they help increase the activity of detoxifying enzymes, which break down carcinogenic and foreign substances in your body.
These veggies also have a molecule called indole-3-carbinol which may prevent breast cancer and other estrogen induced cancers; indole-3-carbinol improves estrogen metabolism and can break the hormone down into a less potent form.
Invigorate your senses by throwing some extra onions, garlic, leeks, or chives, into your dinner tonight. Known as the allium family of vegetables, these plant relatives all have molecules that help your body’s own enzymes break down potentially cancerous molecules. They also contain antibacterial agents, which may help prevent stomach cancer.
While the doctors may still be debating whether taking vitamin C can prevent the common cold, numerous studies have shown its antioxidant and cancer-preventative properties. Antioxidants found in oranges, tangerines, lemons, grapefruit, and limes scavenge up free radicals that weaken and decrease the integrity of your cells.
These strengthened cells may be less susceptible to tumor growth.
Green Leafy Veggies
Lettuce, spinach, chard, kale, and other green leafy veggies have got their own cancer-preventing mechanism going on, in the form of a molecule called lutein. Lutein is an antioxidant, which once again, is important in zapping free radicals. High folic acid content is another merit of green leafy veggies; folic acid has been linked to lower rates of several cancers.
Papaya, mango, carrots, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, and pumpkin are all similar in that they contain beta carotene. Beta carotene is itself a cancer-preventing antioxidant, but it is also metabolized to form vitamin A, which helps prevents cancer as well. These orange foods will get you twice as much cancer-preventing bang for your buck.
This variety of nut is very high in selenium, a trace element that plays an important role in cancer prevention. Having a small amount of selenium in your body is necessary for a particular cancer-fighting enzyme to function correctly.