Wise Nutritional Choices for Cancer Prevention. Part 2: Beneficial Phytochemicals

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We have established that there a relationship between cancer and the food we eat, in part one of this blog. Did you know that some foods may actually help to prevent cancer and some may even help to kill cancer cells? Fruits, vegetables and some spices and herbs contain beneficial compounds called phytochemicals. Here are some nutritious herbs, seasoning and other foods to add into your eating plan, based on current research and theories.

The following foods and their phytochemicals that may help to prevent cancer include:

  • Spices: turmeric (curcumin), ginger (6-gingerol), chili peppers (capsaicin), black pepper (piperine), cloves (eugenol), rosemary (carnosol), cinnamon (cinnamaldehyde)
  • Vegetables: broccoli (indol-3-carbinol), cabbage (indol-3-carbinol) and sulforaphanes are in broccoli, broccoli sprouts, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage.
  • Foods that contain flavonoids (antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds): berries, green tea, dark chocolate, kale, apples, citrus, onions, broccoli, and hot peppers.
  • Other foods: grape seed extract (resveratrol), garlic (diallyl sulfide), tomatoes (lycopene), honey (caffeic acid), green tea (epigallocatechin-3-gallate)
  • Omega-3 fatty acids are associated with a decrease in cancer risk
  • Whole grains: contain lignans which are food for our gut flora. They also contain different forms of vitamin E and beneficial compounds called polyphenols that can help to prevent cancer
  • Folate (one of the B vitamins): works on our DNA to help prevent cancer. Sources are lentils, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, asparagus, spinach, navy beans, black beans, kidney beans, turnip greens and broccoli.

Including as many plant based foods as possible into the diet is encouraged in order to increase the amount of these beneficial compounds consumed. Eating as many plant-based and fresh foods as possible, including all of the colors of the rainbow, will increase those beneficial cancer-kicking phytochemicals in our diet.

Research is always discovering new and beneficial compounds in plant foods that appear to work well with other compounds in the food. This can be called a synergistic effect. This is one reason why it is more beneficial to obtain these cancer-preventing phytonutrients from foods instead of obtaining them in supplement form.

So next time you eat, aim for including colorful fruits and vegetables and maybe even a piece of dark chocolate!

Click here to view Part One of this series.

Thank you to AF, Dietetic Intern, 2015, for help with this article.

 

 

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