The Power Foods for Fighting Cancer

A variety of foods are especially effective in helping to combat cancer, according to the National Institute for Cancer Research. The Nurses Study, conducted by Harvard University, showed that you can help reduce your risk of cancer by juicing with organic produce as opposed to commercially grown produce, which contains additives and pesticides that are suspected carcinogens.

To prevent ingesting contaminants, especially if you're using nonorganic produce, be sure to wash and peel all produce. Use a vegetable brush to scrub off pesticide residue, which may not rinse off. Pay attention to where your produce was grown; some of it may have been shipped in from countries that have less stringent pesticide regulations than the United States.

Most Potent Nutrients that Fight Cancer

According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the following nutrients are most effective in fighting cancer:

Vitamin A, found in carrots, kale, romaine lettuce, broccoli, beet greens, spinach, watercress, and chard.

Beta-carotene, found in orange, yellow, and dark green leafy vegetables, including carrots, cantaloupe, apricots, spinach, squash, kale, parsley, broccoli, lettuce, beet greens, watercress, and mangos.

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), found in brewer's yeast, kale, prunes, collard greens, parsley, broccoli, and beet greens.

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), found in bell peppers, prunes, turnip greens, spinach, and kale.

Folic acid, found in leafy green vegetables such as kale, asparagus, turnip greens, prunes, and peppers.

Pantothenic acid, found in brewer's yeast, legumes, and whole grains.

Vitamin C, found in kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, watercress, cauliflower, citrus, strawberries, papaya, mango, turnips, asparagus, berries, peppers, and cantaloupe.

Vitamin E, found in spinach, watercress, asparagus, carrots, tomatoes, and wheat germ.

Selenium, found in garlic, legumes, asparagus, oranges, radishes, grapes, carrots, cabbage, chard, and turnips.

Iron, found in peas, parsley, dandelion, blackberries, beets with greens, carrots, pineapple, broccoli, strawberries, and asparagus.

Zinc, found in ginger, garlic, carrots, grapes, spinach, cabbage, lettuce, tangerines, cucumbers, soybeans, and sunflower seeds.

Magnesium, found in green leafy vegetables and nuts.

Manganese, found in bananas, bran, pineapple, and nuts.

Protein, found in legumes, broccoli, and sunflower seeds.

Antioxidants, found in citrus fruits, legumes, and whole grains.

Phytonutrients, found in all plants, especially dark and brightly colored fruits and vegetables.

Top Super Foods that Prevent Cancer

The National Institute for Cancer Research lists these foods as the top super foods for reducing cancer:

  • Beans (or legumes) are rich in fiber and contain several chemicals that boost immunity to cancer, including saponins, which may inhibit the growth of cancer cells in different tissues; protease inhibitors, which reduce the growth of cancer cells and suppress cell destroyers; and phytic acid, which also slows the growth of tumors. Studies show that those who consume at least three servings of legumes on a daily basis are 38 percent less likely to get prostate cancer than those who eat fewer legumes.

  • Berries are high in vitamin C and fiber as well as ellagic acid, which helps prevent cancer of the skin, bladder, lung, esophagus, and breast. Strawberries and raspberries are especially high in this substance, and blueberries contain the most antioxidants of all berries.

  • Cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, Swiss chard, and bok choy, contain substances that may reduce the growth of cancer by regulating enzymes that help prevent cancer. Eating a lot of cruciferous vegetables has been associated with a decreased risk for lung, stomach, and colorectal cancers.

  • Dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, romaine lettuce, leaf lettuces, kale, mustard greens, collard greens, and Swiss chard all contain high amounts of fiber, folate, and a wide variety of antioxidants that fight free radicals. Studies show that the carotenoids in dark green leafy vegetables may help prevent breast, skin, lung, and stomach cancers.

  • Flaxseed is the best known dietary source for lignans, which may act like estrogen in the body. Studies show that consuming a diet high in flaxseed modified estrogen metabolism and offered some protection against breast cancer. Flaxseed has also been associated with reduced risks of colon, breast, skin, and lung tumors. Flaxseed is also high in omega-3 essential fatty acids.

  • Garlic is a natural antibiotic and immune system enhancer. A potent antioxidant that attacks free radicals, it also increases the enzymes that break down carcinogens in the body. According to the Iowa Women's Health Study, garlic is a super food that can help prevent prostate and stomach cancer. Women who regularly consume garlic showed a lower risk for colon cancer.

  • Grapes, especially red and purple varieties, are loaded with resveratrol, which has been shown to reduce the formation of tumors in lymph, liver, stomach, and breast cells.

Research shows that drinking green tea on a frequent basis can lower the risk of many cancers, including bladder, colon, stomach, pancreatic, and esophageal cancer. It may also help prevent the recurrence of stage 1 breast cancer. Include green tea in your favorite fruit juices to add flavor and nutrients.

  • Green tea is loaded with catechins and offers three times the amount of catechins found in black tea. Catechins reduce the formation of enzyme activities that lead to cancer and may also repair cellular damage caused by free radicals. Green tea may also reduce cancer of the colon, liver, breast, and prostate cells.

  • Soy foods, which include tofu, soymilk, soybeans, soy nuts, miso, tempeh, and soy burgers, contain phytoestrogens, a plant-derived form of estrogen that some scientists believe replaces the body's stronger form of estrogen at estrogen receptor sites in the breast. Some doctors believe soy reduces the risk of breast cancer, while others believe phytoestrogens in soy may increase the risk of breast cancer in women who have already had the disease. Research shows that men who drank soymilk more than once per day for twenty years had a 70 percent reduced risk of prostate cancer.

  • Tomatoes contain the phytochemical lycopene, which is also found in smaller quantities in watermelon, papaya, and pink grapefruit. Numerous studies have shown that lycopene helps reduce the incidence of prostate, stomach, and lung cancer. Tomatoes are most effective at reducing cancer when consumed as tomato sauce, tomato paste, and tomato juice, because nutrients are more easily absorbed when tomatoes are cooked or processed than when they are raw.

Research shows that those who consume very low levels of lycopene are three times more likely to get lung cancer than those who consume high levels. African Americans were shown to have eight times the risk of developing cancer when their lycopene levels were very low.

  • Turmeric, the spice used in curry powder, has an active ingredient, curcumin, that helps reduce colon, breast, liver, oral, skin, and stomach tumors.

  • Consuming lots of yogurt may help reduce breast and colon cancers, so be sure to include it in your homemade juices to add nutrients, flavor, and texture.

Using Produce to Reduce Cancer

According to studies conducted by the Australian government, many types of cancer may be prevented by eating a diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables.

Lung cancer: Convincing evidence shows that diets high in vegetables and fruits are protective against lung cancer and that compounds called carotenoids, which are present in significant amounts in these foods, are probably responsible for some of this effect.

Breast cancer: Consuming a diet high in unsaturated fats, fruits, and vegetables has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer, while smoking and alcohol consumption may increase the risk, according to many studies.

Prostate cancer: Consuming a diet high in saturated fats has been shown to increase the risk of prostate cancer, while consuming lots of fruits and vegetables reduces the risk. The antioxidant leucopenia, which is found in tomatoes, watermelon, and strawberries, has been shown to help lower the risk of prostate cancer in many studies.

Bowel cancer: Getting regular aerobic exercise and consuming a diet high in produce has been shown to reduce the risk of bowel cancer, while eating a diet high in saturated fats and alcohol has been shown to increase the risk.

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