Eating any single food will not prevent or treat cancer, however there is plenty of scientific evidence showing that what you consume over a lifetime can increase or decrease your overall cancer risk. Studies have found that consuming a large amount of red, processed and smoked meat, salty foods and sugar increases the risk for certain types of cancer.[i] On the flipside, consuming a high fibre diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables may help reduce your cancer risk. In the interest of your health, we at myWholeLife have compiled a list of some of the most well-researched cancer fighting superfoods.
Garlic: Garlic contains all sorts of anti-cancer compounds, including quercetin, allixin and allicin; lab tests have found these compounds help slow the growth of prostate, bladder, colon and stomach tumours. Garlic also contains a compound called diallyl disulfide which may help reduce the risk for skin and lung cancer.[ii] Take note, there seems to be a dose-dependent relationship between garlic consumption and cancer risk, so the more you eat, the greater the cancer reducing effects—look out garlic breath!
Citrus Fruits: Citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruits contain vitamin C and lab studies have found that vitamin C may help kill cancer cells and prevent their proliferation.[iii] Many studies have also found that a diet high in vitamin C is associated with a reduced risk for cancer.[iv][v] Citrus also contains cancer-fighting phytochemicals including beta-cryptoxanthin, limonoids and quercetin and studies have found a link between a high intake of citrus and a reduced risk of stomach and breast cancer.[vi][vii]
Whole Grains: Whole grains are foods that contain all three parts of the grain kernel – the germ, bran and endosperm and include foods such as brown rice, oatmeal and kasha (buckwheat). Whole grains contain hundreds of plant compounds that protect cells from oxidative damage that may lead to cancer formation. They’re also an excellent source of fibre, which may help reduce cancer by lowering body weight (a major cancer risk factor) and bulking up the stools to hasten the elimination of potentially carcinogenic wastes from your body.[viii][ix]
Apples: Could an apple a day really keep cancer away? Apples are not only an excellent source of cancer fighting vitamin C and fibre, they also contain the flavonoid quercetin and triterpenoids, which according to lab studies, help slow the development of lung, breast, liver and colon cancer. Many of its beneficial compounds are found in the apple peel, so be sure to buy organic and consume the apple with the peel on.[x]
Berries: Berries are an excellent source of fibre, vitamin C and antioxidants—all of which are associated with a reduced cancer risk. Although all berries contain anthocyanins, black raspberries and blueberries are especially high in these anti-cancer nutrients which help to slow the growth of pre-cancerous cells and decrease the type of free radical damage to cells that can lead to cancer.[xi]
Tomatoes: Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C but more importantly, they are the best source of the super antioxidant lycopene. Studies have found that lycopene helps reduce the risk for prostate cancer and lab tests suggest that it may also help stop the growth and spreading of breast, lung and endometrial cancer cells. Unlike most fruits and vegetables, processed tomatoes (such as tomato sauce and paste) are actually more beneficial than fresh tomatoes because processing causes the lycopene to be more easily released and absorbed in the body.[xii]