April is Cancer Awareness Month. (Watch for me on Breakfast Television in Vancouver on Friday morning, we’re talking about cancer prevention!)
Here, I’ve rounded up a few delicious things that can help you prevent cancer. Feast on these:
Garlic is bursting with phytonutrients and antioxidants. Several large studies have found that people who eat more garlic have a lower risk of developing cancer, especially cancer in the digestive organs. Freshly crushed garlic is your best bet–probably better than supplements.
Think: broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and kale. These nutritional powerhouses are packed with anticancer phytonutrients that have been shown in studies to reduce inflammation, inhibit carcinogens, and slow cancer cell growth. With cruciferous veg, you should cook them lightly and chew them thoroughly to release all the active molecules.
Green tea is full of potent antioxidants. One subset of antioxidants–catechins–are particularly noteworthy in the fight against cancer. Lab studies have found that catechins can shrink tumors and reduce tumor cell growth, and may have a protective effect against cancer, breast cancer especially. Black tea and green tea both contain catechins, but green tea has approximately three times the amount.
Oranges, mandarins, and grapefruit are well-known to contain tons of vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant. But it turns out there are useful phytonutrients in the peel of citrus fruits, too–these nutrients are called limonoids, and one recent study showed a reduction in skin cancer rates with limonoid consumption. You’re probably not going to start munching on orange peel, straight-up…but you could use the zest for sauces and baking, no?
A staple in curries and Indian food, the active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin–which is a potent antioxidant. It’s a compound that’s under a lot of investigation currently, as it’s showing great promise in the fight against cancer. (Plus: yum!)
Tomatoes are off the chart on antioxidants and phytochemicals, but it’s especially lycopene–the compound that gives tomatoes their red color–that’s been shown to be anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer, notably against prostate cancer. The interesting thing about lycopene is that it becomes even more bioavailable after cooking and processing.
Dried beans & peas
Legumes contain flavonoids–and research shows that flavonoids protect against cancer by affecting cell growth, and also via antioxidant activity. They’re also high in fiber, which is known to reduce the risk of colon cancer. Also these are foods that help you maintain a healthy weight–and obesity is an independent risk factor for cancer.