5 cancer-fighting foods for your diet
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 7.6 million people die from cancer each year worldwide. The CDC says that many of these deaths are preventable. How, you ask? One key aspect of prevention lies with your diet.
One of the CDC‘s recommendations is to eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, maintaining a healthy weight and being physically active. A few simple changes can build up a strong immune system.
The National Cancer Institute recommends incorporating these five cancer-fighting foods into your regular diet, which will help keep you well armed in the fight against cancer.
#1: Go green.
Plant-based foods are a truly helpful resource in the fight against cancer. Plants have three key elements that make them immune-system boosting powerhouses: low fat, increased fiber and cancer-fighting nutrients. A plant-based diet means you load up on fruits, nuts, grains, beans and, of course, veggies. Aim for two-thirds of your plate to be filled with these items. You don’t have to go vegan or vegetarian. Just get them in, in every meal.
#2 Spice it up.
Cooking with turmeric, an Indian spice also known as Indian saffron, has been found to play a key role in cancer prevention. The spice contains curcumin, an antioxidant that inhibits certain types of cancer cells (not to be confused with the spice cumin). Studies have also shown that it does well in fighting inflammation. A little of this truly goes a long way. Start by adding 1/4 teaspoon to foods such as salad dressings, scrambled eggs, soups and other dishes. After a few weeks, up the amount of turmeric to 1/2 teaspoon daily, and then work your way up to 1 teaspoon. It can also help you digest meals better.
#3 Remember to add oil.
Seek out oils high in omega-3 fatty acids, found in flaxseed, fish and olive oils, and use them to cook with and add to salads and other foods. Omega-3 fatty acids are known as essential fatty acids that the body does not make on its own yet needs to function well. Two major types of omega-3s exist in the diet: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) found in veggie oils such as flaxseed, walnuts and greens like kale and spinach. The other kind of omega-3 is found in fish such as salmon and tuna. These oils have been shown to reduce inflammation as well as help with brain memory and performance, prevent heart disease and other conditions. Be sure to store oils in a cool, dark place since they can spoil when exposed to heat, light and air.
#4 Tea is a cup of life.
Drink green tea daily. Green tea is high in antioxidants called catechins or polyphenols, excellent at fighting off damage caused by free radicals. Typical tea consumption is about 3 cups a day. Green tea has also been proven to be helpful with flu prevention, stress reduction and aging gracefully.
#5 You can never have enough garlic.
Research indicates that the herb garlic contains allyl sulfur compounds, which have anti-cancer properties. They reportedly aid in apoptosis or the death of cancer cells as well as helping the body get rid of cancer-causing chemicals. Add garlic to dips, to flavor your favorite foods or chopped into pastas. Fresh garlic seems to be the most effective, but other forms such as extract, powder and supplements can be helpful as well. Note: Side effects such as breath odor, heartburn and gas may occur more often with raw garlic vs. other forms.
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health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care sites, also including freelance or intern writers.