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15 Foods That Can Help Fight Cancer

By Dr. Sajjan Rajpurohit in Cancer Centre

Feb 02 , 2023 | 4 min read

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Image by KamranAydinov on Freepik Can foods prevent cancer? The answer is yes. Research shows that certain foods lower the risk of cancer. So, it's time to include these healthy foods in your diet to prevent the deadly disease. Scientists are, however, more sure of foods to avoid to prevent cancer. These include processed meats, sugary drinks, and salty fast food. These might look luring but are harmful to health. On the other hand, fresh fruits and vegetables are anti-cancer foods that reduce the risk of cancer disease. Read on to learn about 15 such anti-cancer foods.

What is the link between cancer and diet?

The US National Cancer Institute has found a link between our diet and cancer. What people consume increases or decreases their risk of cancer. Alcohol and tobacco are some products that increase the risk of cancer. Similarly, processed fast foods can harm human health, causing fatal diseases like heart disease and cancer. On the other hand, eating fruits and vegetables rich in fibre can reduce the risk of cancer. Phytochemicals in plants protect us from harmful compounds in food and the environment. Additionally, they prevent cell damage and mutation. Thus, a diet to prevent cancer would include fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meat. It's not different from a healthy diet in general.

15 Foods that may reduce the risk of cancer?

Carrots

It's common knowledge that carrots are healthy. But few people know about their anti-cancer properties. A study showed that the consumption of carrots was associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer. Another review analysing five older studies showed a 26% reduction in gastric/ stomach cancer risk due to carrot consumption. While these studies don't account for other factors that might play a role in cancer, they draw a correlation between reduced risk and carrot consumption.

Berries

Berries are common fruits, and everyone loves them. But few are aware of their amazing health benefits. These little fruits contain chemopreventive substances like anthocyanin. They are excellent for cancer prevention. A study on 25 colorectal cancer patients showed that bilberry extracts reduced the growth of cancer cells by 7%. Thus, including a few servings of berries in the diet will minimise the risk of cancer.

Nuts

Almost all types of nuts help prevent cancer. A study on 30,000+ patients showed that consumption of nuts could reduce the chances of colorectal, pancreatic, and several other types of cancer. Walnuts, almonds, pistachio, and Brazilian nuts contain selenium — a mineral that helps prevent lung cancer. Caution: Adding too much salt to nuts can lead to other health problems.

Broccoli

Broccoli is an excellent cancer food that can help ward off the disease. It contains sulforaphane, a plant-based compound, and studies show that it reduces breast cancer cells by 75%. Light stir-fried broccoli tastes delicious and can be the perfect meal for winter. However, it's better to avoid adding processed cheese. One can also have other cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and cabbage. They are also rich in sulforaphane and effective in preventing cancer.

Beans

Beans are fibre-rich foods that help the digestive system function normally. Studies show that dietary fibre can prevent colorectal cancer. Including a few servings of beans in meals will keep the stomach happy and the body cancer-free.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon adds a unique aroma and flavour to food. However, it is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Most age-related illnesses arise from inflammation. Thus, having cinnamon regularly is an excellent way to stay healthy. Cinnamon can also reduce the risk of cancer. A test tube studyfound that it can kill cancer cells and stop them from spreading.

Citrus fruits

Winter brings with it a range of citrus fruits, from grapes to oranges. And the good news is that these fruits can help ward off deadly diseases like cancer. A study confirms that citrus fruits prevent cancer of the upper respiratory tract and digestive system. That's another reason to love oranges and lemons.

Turmeric

No Indian dish is complete without turmeric. This ancient spice has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. The curcumin compound in turmeric is known to prevent cancer.

Flaxseed

Flaxseed is a super food one can include in their cancer diet. A study shows that it's effective in killing breast cancer cells. It's also rich in fibre which helps prevent colorectal cancer. Many people sprinkle flax seeds on their smoothies, making for a wholesome breakfast.

Garlic

Garlic is another sought-after spice in Indian cuisine. It adds a tanginess to curries and gravies. Thanks to the Acillin compound in garlic, it can kill cancer cells. Some people avoid garlic due to bad breath, but it has excellent anti-cancer properties.

Tomatoes

Bright red and juicy tomatoes look luring. But apart from being tasty, they have anti-cancer properties too! Lycopene is a compound found in tomatoes that adds to its anti-cancer properties.

Fatty fish

Non-vegetarians can include some fish in their diet every week. Salmon is excellent anti-cancer food. It's also rich in omega-3 fatty acids that work wonders for heart health. Fatty fish is enriched with Vitamin D and Omega 3 fatty acids, which are believed to offer protection against cancer.

Olive oil

An indispensable ingredient in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine, olive oil is also increasingly being adopted by Indians. Researchshows it can keep stomach and breast cancer at bay. Olive oil can be easily incorporated into your diet by swapping it with refined oils.

Spinach

Green and leafy vegetables provide numerous health benefits. Spinach, in particular, is rich in lutein which is good for eye health and prevents cancer. It also contains beta-carotene and vitamin C, which protects the body against developing cancer cells.

Whole grains

Refined grains lack dietary fibre and aren't friendly to the digestive system. That's why eating whole grains is a better idea if one wishes to stay healthy. A fibre-rich diet prevents cancer of the digestive system.

Take Away

There's no 100% confirmation that these foods will prevent cancer. But including them in the diet will significantly lower the risk of cancer disease. Research shows that these foods can reduce the chances of developing the disease. The foods mentioned above aren't different from a healthy diet and are easily available.