Just a few years ago, many health experts believed a person could do little to prevent cancer. But this view is changing, as research shows healthy habits and lifestyles can keep at least some cancers at bay.
Medical studies have found, for instance, that some foods contain cancer-fighting properties, which could help bolster our bodies to either battle or prevent the disease.
“There isn’t any one food that will prevent or cure cancer, which is why it’s important to consume a variety of wholesome foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy on a regular basis,” Leigh Tracy tells Newsmax Health.
This is particularly true of fruits and vegetables, which contain phytochemicals —compounds that may enhance health, notes Tracy, an oncology dietitian who works with cancer patients at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore.
“We do know that eating more plant-based foods, engaging in regular physical activity, and maintaining a healthy weight can reduce the risk of developing cancer,” she adds.
A recent study suggested that a diet rich in cruciferous vegetables — like broccoli, an excellent source of fiber and folate — might sharply reduce colorectal cancer (colon and rectal cancer).
For the study, researchers in Singapore engineered a special probiotic — a beneficial bacterium that lives in the gut — that secreted a substance found in these vegetables, and fed it to mice.
The mice fed the probiotic-veggie combination had 75 percent fewer colorectal cancers.
Also, the tumors detected in these animals were three times smaller than in those that did not get the mixture, according to the study published in Nature Biomedical Engineering.
Broccoli isn’t the only vegetable that has been shown to offer protection against cancer. Here are six other foods that recent research may help prevent cancer:
Apples: Apples are a good source of vitamin C and contain dietary fiber such as pectin. Fiber reduces the risk of colon cancer. In addition, apples are rich in phytochemicals, which are naturally occurring compounds that act as cancer fighters. Most of these chemicals are found in the fruit’s skin, so eat them unpeeled.
Kale: Research suggests that dark, green, leafy vegetables like kale may inhibit the growth of cancer cells in the breast, lung, stomach, and skin. A recent study from Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., also found that kale may help reduce common side effects from breast cancer treatment.
Walnuts: These brain-shaped nuts contain fiber, omega-3 fatty acid, and alpha-linoleic acid. Animal studies suggest they may fight cancer. New Orleans researchers recently reported that walnuts may change the makeup of bacteria in the gut that can slow tumor growth.
Beans: Legumes are very rich in fiber, and they contain other compounds that may fight cancer. But they are not a complete protein, which means they don’t have all the amino acids your body needs. But if you pair beans with quinoa, you’ll have the perfect meatless protein meal, says Tracy.
Cherries: Like apples, cherries are packed with dietary fiber, so they reduce cancer risk. They also contain anthocyanins, compounds that some studies suggest may inhibit the growth of cancer cells, while sparing healthy ones. Cherries also fight chronic bodily inflammation, which may promote cancer.
Greek yogurt: When it comes to cancer, studies on dairy foods have had mixed findings, which has led to confusion on whether they are beneficial or not. A recent study in Current Developments in Nutrition, found that high-fat dairy foods, like cheddar and cream cheese, raised breast cancer risk. But this same study finds that women who ate a lot of yogurt had a 32 percent reduced risk. Of all the yogurt types, Greek is considered preferable because of its high protein content and low sugar count, notes Tracy.
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