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Cancer is a common health disease that affects millions of people worldwide. From lung, breast and ovarian cancer to blood, skin and stomach cancer, this disease can strike people at any time. The major risk factor of developing cancer is a poor lifestyle.
A combination of diet and exercise emerges as a very strong factor in lowering the risk of cancer to some extent , . A well-balanced diet, in particular, plays an important role in reducing the development of cancer. It's about what you eat and what you don't eat.
Certain foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains contain various beneficial compounds that are known to exhibit anti-cancer effects. Read on to know the cancer-fighting foods.
Foods That Can Help Prevent Cancer Risk
Berries such as cranberries, bilberries, blueberries, blackberries, black currants and strawberries are an excellent source of anthocyanins, a naturally occurring pigment that is known to have potential health benefits including lowering the risk of cancer. According to a study, blackberries are rich in anthocyanins that can inhibit the risk of colon cancer .
- Toss a handful of berries into a bowl of yogurt, cereals, smoothies, salads and desserts.
Apples contain polyphenol antioxidants, a plant-based compound that has been shown to have anti-cancer properties, prevent cardiovascular disease and other infections. A study showed that apples could lower lung cancer risk in women who eat one serving of apples per day . Another noted study showed that apples could suppress breast tumour cell growth .
- Slice apples and add it to your breakfast cereals, fruit salads and pancakes.
3. Cruciferous vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale and cabbage are known to have anti-cancer properties. According to the National Cancer Institute, cruciferous veggies contain glucosinolates which are broken down to form biologically active compounds like isothiocyanates, indoles, nitriles, and thiocyanates during cooking and consumption. These compounds are known to exhibit anti-cancer effects .
- Slice up the veggies and add it to your salad or you can steam or stir-fry them.
According to a study in the International Journal of Epidemiology, people who smoke and did not eat carrots were three times more likely to develop lung cancer than those who ate carrots more than once a week . Another study finding showed that consuming carrots can lower gastric cancer risk by 26 per cent .
- Add carrots in your desserts and smoothies.
Pears are another cancer-fighting food which can lower the risk of lung cancer due to their high antioxidant content. As per a study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, women who eat one serving of pear per day have a reduced risk of lung cancer .
- While making fruit salad add pears to it.
Studies show that the omega 3 fatty acids in fish and fish oil may inhibit carcinogenesis. A higher intake of freshwater fish and sea fish was linked to a reduced risk of colon cancer .
Legumes such as beans, peas, and lentils are packed full of nutrients and various other phytochemicals and fibre. Legumes have been linked to a reduced risk of developing several cancers such as stomach, colon, kidney and those of the upper aerodigestive tract .
- Top salads with boiled legumes or make legumes soup.
8. Green tea
Green tea possesses important compounds like catechins and epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). As per a study, drinking two cups of green tea per day has been linked to an 18 per cent lower risk of lung cancer .
- Drink two cups of green tea daily.
9. Whole grains
Whole grains contain a significant amount of B vitamins, fibre and other micronutrients. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, whole grains can lower the risk of colon cancer.
- Have whole-wheat bread, oatmeal or add whole-wheat flour while baking cakes and muffins.
Lycopene, a natural pigment found in tomatoes that gives their natural red colour has been shown to inhibit the growth of lung, stomach, breast, colon, prostate, and oral cancer cells .
- Make tomato soup or add tomatoes to your salad.
Garlic contains allicin, a biologically active compound that has the ability to induce the death of colon cancer cells . Another study showed that garlic and other allium vegetables can significantly lower prostate cancer risk in men .
- Sauté veggies with cloves of garlic or you can add garlic cloves in soup and cooking.
According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, all types of nuts, specially walnuts contain several compounds like ellagitannins, melatonin and gamma-tocopherol that may prevent the risk of cancer.
- Eat a handful of walnuts daily.
Flaxseeds are rich in fibre and omega 3 fatty acids that can help decrease cancer tumour growth. In a study conducted, patients with breast cancer were given 25 g flaxseed-containing muffin daily and the results showed flaxseeds have the potent ability to lower the growth of tumour in breast cancer patients .
- Add flaxseeds to cereals, salads or smoothies.
Grapes contain an essential compound called proanthocyanidin that may influence the expression of genes linked to cancer. In cell culture studies, resveratrol, a plant compound found in grapes can stop the growth and progression of various cancer, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research.
- Have a handful of grapes everyday.
Mushrooms are another food that can prevent the risk of cancer due to their anti-tumour, immunomodulating and anti-metastasis properties.
- Consume mushroom soup or stir-fry them.
Researches in the area of cancer prevention are still in the initial stages and further human studies are required to support many claims. However, it is important to have a healthy, well-balanced diet which includes foods rich in nutrients.