Posts tagged ‘Food’
Cancer Fighting Foods/Spices
The National Cancer Institute estimates that roughly one-third of all cancer deaths may be diet related. What you eat can hurt you, but it can also help you. Many of the common foods found in grocery stores or organic markets contain cancer-fighting properties, from the antioxidants that neutralize the damage caused by free radicals to the powerful phytochemicals that scientists are just beginning to explore. There isn’t a single element in a particular food that does all the work: The best thing to do is eat a variety of foods.
The following foods have the ability to help stave off cancer and some can even help inhibit cancer cell growth or reduce tumor size.
Avocados are rich in glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that attacks free radicals in the body by blocking intestinal absorption of certain fats. They also supply even more potassium than bananas and are a strong source of beta-carotene. Scientists also believe that avocados may also be useful in treating viral hepatitis (a cause of liver cancer), as well as other sources of liver damage.
Broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower have a chemical component called indole-3-carbinol that can combat breast cancer by converting a cancer-promoting estrogen into a more protective variety. Broccoli, especially sprouts, also have the phytochemical sulforaphane, a product of glucoraphanin – believed to aid in preventing some types of cancer, like colon and rectal cancer. Sulforaphane induces the production of certain enzymes that can deactivate free radicals and carcinogens. The enzymes have been shown to inhibit the growth of tumors in laboratory animals. However, be aware that the Agriculture Department studied 71 types of broccoli plants and found a 30-fold difference in the amounts of glucoraphanin. It appears that the more bitter the broccoli is, the more glucoraphanin it has. Broccoli sprouts have been developed under the trade name BroccoSprouts that have a consistent level of sulforaphane – as much as 20 times higher than the levels found in mature heads of broccoli.
Carrots contain a lot of beta carotene, which may help reduce a wide range of cancers including lung, mouth, throat, stomach, intestine, bladder, prostate and breast. Some research indicated beta carotene may actually cause cancer, but this has not proven that eating carrots, unless in very large quantities – 2 to 3 kilos a day, can cause cancer. In fact, a substance called falcarinol that is found in carrots has been found to reduce the risk of cancer, according to researchers at Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences (DIAS). Kirsten Brandt, head of the research department, explained that isolated cancer cells grow more slowly when exposed to falcarinol. This substance is a polyacethylen, however, so it is important not to cook the carrots.
Chili peppers and jalapenos contain a chemical, capsaicin, which may neutralize certain cancer-causing substances (nitrosamines) and may help prevent cancers such as stomach cancer.
If you could eat foods that were tasty, nutritious and helped reduce your risk of disease, what more could you want? The August issue of Mayo Clinic Women’s HealthSource offers its 10 top picks for healthy foods:
Apples: Apples are a good source of pectin, a fiber that can lower cholesterol and glucose levels. They’re also a good source of vitamin C — an antioxidant that protects your body’s cells. Vitamin C also keeps your blood vessels healthy and aids in the absorption of iron and folate.
Almonds: These nuts are packed with nutrients — fiber, riboflavin, magnesium, iron, calcium and vitamin E, a natural antioxidant. They’re also good for your heart. Most of the fat in almonds is monounsaturated fat, which can help lower cholesterol levels when substituted for other fats. Most almonds are considered low sodium, with less than 140 milligrams of sodium an ounce.
Broccoli: Besides providing calcium, potassium, folate and fiber, broccoli contains phytonutrients — compounds that may help prevent diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. Broccoli contains the antioxidant beta-carotene and is also an excellent source of vitamin C.
Blueberries: They are a rich, low-calorie source of fiber, antioxidants and phytonutrients. Regular intake of blueberries may improve short-term memory and reduce the cellular damage associated with aging. Red beans: Small red, pinto and dark red kidney varieties — are an excellent low-fat source of antioxidants, protein, dietary fiber and copper. They’re also a good source of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and thiamin.
Salmon: This fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are believed to provide heart benefits. Salmon is also low in saturated fat and cholesterol and is a good source of protein. If possible, choose wild salmon, which is less likely to contain unwanted chemicals such as mercury. Spinach: It’s high in vitamin A, and also is a good source of calcium, folate, iron, magnesium, riboflavin and vitamins B-6 and C. The plant compounds in spinach may boost your immune system and help prevent certain types of cancer.
Sweet potatoes: The deep orange-yellow color of sweet potatoes tells you that they’re high in beta-carotene. Sweet potatoes are also high in vitamin C and a good source of fiber, vitamin B-6 and potassium. And, they’re fat-free and relatively low in calories.
Vegetable juice: This beverage is an easy way to include vegetables in your diet since it contains most of the same vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Tomato juice, and vegetable juices which include tomatoes, are good sources of lycopene, an antioxidant that may reduce the risk of heart attack and certain types of cancer. Be sure to select the low-sodium varieties.
Wheat germ: The germ at the center of the wheat seed is a concentrated source of nutrients. Two tablespoons provide a good source of thiamin, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, iron and zinc. Sprinkle over cereals, yogurt and salads. Or use it in muffins, cookies and pancakes.
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