9 Cancer Fighting Foods

9 Cancer Fighting Foods

Antioxidants have the power to heal cell damage to prevent cancer. They are the body’s miniature superhero. The best way to reap the benefits of antioxidants is through a diet of nutrient rich foods, the nine foods here are particularly beneficial in the fight against cancer.

Antioxidants offer protection from harmful free radicals and chemically unstable cells. When oxygen interacts with other molecules, it can produce free radicals, which go on to interact with cell membranes or DNA causing it to die prematurely. Antioxidants stabilize the free radicals, thereby protecting the body by stopping the production of unhealthy or dying cells. When unhealthy cells replicate out of control, the result is cancer.

Although the possibility of getting cancer cannot be completely controlled as there are additional risk factors like genetics and ethnicity, steps can be taken to reduce the likelihood. Through diet, we can use certain foods, including these 9,  as weapons to fight cancer.

1. Tomatoes
Not only are tomatoes a source of Vitamin C, but also lycopene, both of which act as powerful antioxidants. Lycopene is a pigment and phytochemical found in red, orange, and yellow fruits and vegetables. It’s considered a carotenoid known to have antioxidant benefits. Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin with antioxidant properties. The body also needs Vitamin C to produce collagen, a fiber that is fundamental in helping heal the body’s wounds. It also aids in immune functioning to keep the body healthy and disease-free. Using real tomatoes and tomato sauce in meals can help the body get the healthy dose of antioxidants that it needs.

2. Kale
Kale has been hailed as a “superfood” in the health world, and with good reason. It contains Vitamin C, lutein, and beta carotene. Lutein and beta carotene are both part of the antioxidant rich carotenoid family. Kale can be cooked, steamed, or blended in a food processor to be added to soup, hummus, or other dips. It can make a great addition to salads as well, particularly if finely diced or softened with steaming.

3. Black or Green Tea
Both teas contain a high concentration of flavonoids, a plant derived compound known for being a powerful antioxidant. According to Harvard Medical School, green tea is the best source of catechins, an antioxidant better at halting the effects of free radicals and fighting disease than either Vitamin C or Vitamin E. The study conducted showed associations between consuming green tea and a reduced risk for multiple cancers including skin, breast, lung, colon, esophageal and bladder.

4. Brazil Nuts
This type of nut has Vitamin E and is packed full of Selenium. Vitamin E is not only an important antioxidant but it also has a critical role in immune system function enabling the body to fight off bacteria and viruses. Selenium is a mineral needed by the body for cells to function normally, including its antioxidant effects to keep existing cells cancer-free. Brazil nuts are great to eat on their own and contain other vitamins and minerals to keep the body healthy. They are also great in snack mixes or for baking.

5. Carrots
Carrots are high in beta carotene which can be converted into Vitamin A. Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin also known as retinol, which is naturally present in many foods. Along with its antioxidant benefits, it’s also crucial for normal vision, immune function, and reproduction. Carrots make a great snack on their own or can be grated and added to a lasagna or casserole. Roasting carrots is also an option.

6. Blueberries
Most berries are very rich in antioxidants. They contain Vitamin C as well as phytonutrients to prevent the consequences of free radical damage. Phytonutrients are defined as a bioactive plant derived compound associated with positive health effects which act as powerful antioxidants. Blueberries are also a good snack on their own and can also be added easily to other foods to pack a nutrient-rich punch.

7. Spinach
There’s more than one reason that Popeye couldn’t get enough of this stuff. Spinach contains beta carotene, Vitamin C, and lutein. All three are great antioxidants that protect against free radical damage. Spinach is also rich in other vitamins and minerals for good health, such as iron, folate, and manganese. Spinach is generally easy to incorporate into most meals. It can be substituted for lettuce in dishes or added to a favorite casserole or dip. Spinach also makes a great added layer to lasagnas or pasta dishes.

8. Watermelon
This tasty, juicy fruit contains moderate amounts of Vitamins A and C while also containing lutein. Watermelon is a refreshing snack and can be easily added to smoothies.

9. Sweet Potatoes
Like carrots, these yummy root vegetables contain beta carotene. Sweet potatoes also contain B vitamins which have been shown to ward off heart disease and cancer while boosting metabolism. Sweet potatoes make a great addition as a side dish, baked or boiled, and they can be used in potato salad.

These nine foods all have antioxidant properties to help ward off cancer and cellular damage, keeping the body healthy. Along with their ability to fight free radicals, they also contain a number of other health benefits. There are many delicious ways to incorporate each of these nine cancer fighting foods into a regular diet.

By Emily Kane


Harvard Medical School
Harvard Medical School
Reader’s Digest

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