Cancer is the leading cause of death across the globe with nearly 10 million deaths in 2020, according to the World Health Organisation. While scientists are working day and night to find the best cure, research on cancer and nutrition revealed some superfoods that prevent the growth of cancer.
Researchers found some basic food items easily available in our kitchen that prevents the progression of cancerous cells. You will be surprised when you find what they are. These superfoods have the ability to provide the anti-angiogenesis effect which is very important for cancer treatment.
Of course, you look at these food items in your fridge everyday and may hate a few of them. But, please know they are loaded with phytonutrients and other special compounds that can lower your risk of cancer. By the end of the post, you will realise that they don’t deserve your hatred at all!
Here are 10 cancer preventing superstars:
1. Red Wine
Red wine contains the potent antioxidant Resveratrol, which stops aggregation of mutated protein – p53, present in more than half of all breast cancer cases.
This was observed both in human breast and in rodents’ tumors.
This bioactive compound is also known for lowering brain inflammation in people with dementia and slowing down the aging of the brain. Resveratrol also protects us against viral and bacterial attacks and helps in DNA repair. 225ml of wine contains 640mcg of Resveratrol. Some wines have Resveratrol in more concentration. You can also intake supplements of Resveratrol to improve your overall health.
Packed with a good amount of sulforaphane, Broccoli causes tumor cell death. In one study on mice, sulforaphane was found to target cancer stem cells and reduce tumor size.
Broccoli has the potential to fight against liver, bladder, breast, stomach, colorectal, and lung cancers. However, most studies are limited to test-tube, animal, and observational studies. There is a need for further research on Broccoli and its potential to fight cancer in humans. Meanwhile, nutritionists and dietitians recommend intake of Broccoli by adding it to salads, pasta, omelets, and pizza.
This is something most people hate because of its pungent smell. Well, you won’t hate it anymore, if you know how it protects you from cancer. Garlic is loaded with phytochemicals that inhibit the formation of nitrosamines, carcinogens formed in the intestines and stomach due to consumption of nitrates, a common food preservative. Adding garlic to diet lowers the risk of colon cancers in women by 50%
Garlic also helps fight breast, stomach and esophageal cancers.
Of course, it is really uncomfortable to eat garlic as it is. The trick is to crush the garlic or make a paste and add it to tomato sauce while it simmers or a curry. That way it is easy to consume.
Those gorgeous black and navy beans are one of the amazing superfoods with the potential to reduce the growth of colon cancer cells. According to one study, black beans and soy flour diets inhibit azoxymethane-induced colon cancer. Beans have the power to inhibit colon carcinogenesis, by modulating cellular kinetics and reducing inflammation, potentially by preserving mucosal barrier function.
Dried beans are far more effective in preventing breast cancer in rats. According to American Institute for Cancer Research, eating half a cup of beans that contain 10 grams of fiber can easily lower breast cancer risk by 7%. As per the BBC reports, beans contain inositol pentakisphosphate that helps them block the growth of prostate cancer cells.
All you need to do is eat a half-cup—of legumes a few times a week – either from a can or dry beans that’ve been soaked and cooked along with greens or other veggies.
This is one of my favourite superfoods and I never miss it on my daily diet. I added walnuts to my daily breakfast much before knowing its anti-cancerous properties. Well, what is so special about walnuts?
Estrogen boosts the growth of breast tumors. Walnuts contain plant cholesterol-like molecules known as phytosterols that block estrogen receptors in breast cancer cells and slow down the cancer cells’ growth, according to W. Elaine Hardman, PhD, associate professor of biochemistry at Marshall University School of Medicine in Huntington. According to Hardman’s research walnuts delay breast tumors by 9 years. Walnuts also help fight prostate cancers in the same way.
Researchers recommended daily intake of an ounce of walnuts for best benefits.
6. Green Tea
Green tea has been linked to many health benefits but the latest research also showed its anti-cancer properties.
Well, laboratory and animal studies revealed that polyphenols in green tea inhibit tumor cell proliferation and induce apoptosis – a type of cell death. Consuming green tea can activate detoxification enzymes in our bodies and offer protection against the development of tumors. However, the precise mechanism by which green tea fights carcinogenic cells or inhibits tumorigenesis at different organ sites such as lungs, skin, oral cavity, colon, liver, etc is not well-known.
7. Blueberries & Raspberries
Power-Packed with phytochemicals, blueberries, and raspberries are excellent superfoods that prevent the growth of tumor. Mouth-watering berries give us the capability to fight ovarian, esophageal, oral, colon, and skin cancers. Blueberries inhibit the proliferation of ovarian cancer cells by downregulating their biomarkers Cyclooxygenase (COX)-1 and COX-2. Daily consumption of 400 mg blueberries daily reduced tumor size significantly in mice with Ovarian cancer.
Another compound called cyanidin, found in raspberry, wild bilberry, and cranberry – decreased expression of the cancer genes Twist1 and GLUT1, and it also increased expression of the FOXO3 gene, which is a tumor suppressor. Cyanidin reduces the activity of cancer-causing genes and increases the activity of cancer-stopping genes.
Also, these berries are great antioxidants and reduce oxidative stress and angiogenesis in the body. These fruits have the potential to prevent DNA damage in our bodies.
If delicious berries aren’t part of your daily diet, it’s time to start eating more to reduce the risk of cancer.
This is a popular spice in Indian cuisine. It has gained a lot of importance in alternative medicine. It has properties that are very useful to cure chronic medical conditions, stimulates weight loss, and prevents cancer.
Curcumin, its active ingredient, can reduce lesions in the colon and kill off head and neck tumor cells. Turmeric can also slow the growth of lung, breast, and prostate cancer cells. Researchers found from test-tube and human studies that daily consumption of at least 1/2–3 teaspoons (1–3 grams) of ground turmeric per day can keep cancers at bay.
Do you know tomatoes are a powerful weapon against prostate cancer? Men who consume more than 10 portions of tomatoes each week can decrease the risk of prostate cancer by 20%, according to a UK study.
Tomatoes contain lycopene (anti-cancer agent). In laboratory tests lycopene has been found to stop the growth of the cancer cells including lung, breast, and endometrial (in the lining of the uterus). Lycopene obstructs angiogenesis – that is the growth of new blood vessels that tumors need to grow – according to the American Institute for Cancer Research.
So, you can keep cancer away by getting the most benefit from lycopene. Consume more cooked or processed tomatoes including pizza sauce, tomato juice or tomato pasta, or curry.
10. Dark Chocolate
Chocolates lift our mood in a fraction of a second. Isn’t it? Not only a popular gift item, but dark chocolate is also one of the superfoods that prevent the growth of tumors. Dark chocolate contains a good amount of cocoa that can prevent DNA damage and reduce the activation of molecules necessary for the development and progression of cancer.
A 45g of dark chocolate containing 70% cocoa significantly reduced DNA damage in human subjects according to a study published in The British Journal of Nutrition. The study showed that this effect lasts for about 2 hours while other studies found it can last for 6 hours. However, no such effect was found with white chocolate. Researchers found that cocoa lowers the activation of the nuclear factor κB, which has been detected in lung and pancreatic cancer, and a variety of solid tumors.
Why not add a sweet dark chocolate to your daily diet?
The latest research on cancer and nutrition concludes that there is no doubt that diet can have a major impact on your risk of cancer. The 10 superfoods mentioned in this post are backed by science and you must add to your diet to keep this deadly disease at bay, especially if you are an at-risk individual.
There are plenty of tricks to cook them in a way that can tantalize your taste buds. These superfoods are known to offer a plethora of other health benefits besides protecting you from cancer. For instance, dark chocolate is also good for depression, garlic improves heart health, and green tea aids in weight loss. So, daily intake of these superfoods can improve your overall health.
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