Cancer is a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body. Tobacco use is the cause of about 22% of cancer deaths. Another 10% is due to obesity, poor diet, lack of physical activity and drinking alcohol. Other factors include certain infections, exposure to ionizing radiation and environmental pollutants. Many cancers can be prevented by not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, not drinking too much alcohol, eating plenty of vegetables, fruits and whole grains, vaccination against certain infectious diseases, not eating too much processed and red meat, and avoiding too much sunlight exposure.
There are many superfoods rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals that offer anti-cancer benefits. For instance some berries can cause cancer cells to self-destruct, walnuts have the potential to help fight tumors and tomatoes can destroy cancer-causing free radicals in the body.
Here are the list of top 10 cancer-fighting superfoods.
- Green Tea
Green tea contain certain antioxidants known as polyphenols which appear to prevent cancer cells from dividing.
According to a report in the July 2001 issue of the Journal of Cellular Biochemistry, these polyphenols that are abundant in green tea may protect against various types of cancer. Dry green tea leaves, which are about 40% polyphenols by weight, may also reduce the risk of cancer of the stomach, lung, colon, rectum, liver and pancreas, study findings have suggested.
Mushrooms are one of the most powerful functional foods for preventing and treating cancer. Shiitake mushroom is believed to be effective in fighting the development and progression of cancer by boosting the body’s immune system. Besides shiitake, other varieties of mushroom which boost anti-cancer benefits include Maitake, Reishi and Phellinus Linteus. These mushrooms contain polysaccharides, especially Lentinan, powerful compounds that help in building immunity. They are a source of Beta Glucan. They also have a protein called lectin, which attacks cancerous cells and prevents them from multiplying. They also contain Thioproline. These mushrooms can stimulate the production of interferon in the body.
Garlic is one of the most powerful anti-cancer food. It has immune enhancing allium compounds that appear to increase the activity of immune cells that fight cancer and indirectly help break down cancer causing substances. These substances also help block carcinogens from entering cells and slow tumor development. Diallyl sulfide, a component of garlic oil, has also been shown to render carcinogens in the liver inactive. According to study published in the American Society for Clinical Nutrition journal, people who consume raw or cooked garlic regularly face about half the risk of stomach cancer and two-thirds the risk of colorectal cancer as people who eat little or none. It is believed garlic may help prevent stomach cancer because it has anti-bacterial effects against a bacterium, Helicobacter pylori, found in the stomach and known to promote cancer there.
Broccoli contain a chemical component called indole-3-carbinol that can combat breast cancer by converting a cancer-promoting estrogen into a more protective variety. It also has the phytochemical sulforaphane that is believed to aid in preventing some types of cancer, like colon and rectal cancer. Sulforaphane induces the production of certain enzymes that can deactivate free radicals and carcinogens. The enzymes have been shown to inhibit the growth of tumors in laboratory animals.
Grapes are rich in polyphenolic phytochemical compound resveratrol. , which inhibits the enzymes that can stimulate cancer-cell growth and suppress immune response. They also contain ellagic acid, a compound that blocks enzymes that are necessary for cancer cells – this appears to help slow the growth of tumors.
Lycopene, a flavonoid antioxidant, is a unique phytochemical compound found in the tomatoes. Studies shows that lycopene protects the skin from ultra-violet rays and thus offers some defence against skin cancer. It also contains very good levels of vitamin A, and flavonoid anti-oxidants such as beta carotenes, Zea-xanthin and lutein. These antioxidants are scientifically found to be protective against cancers, including colon, prostate, breast, endometrial, lung, and pancreatic tumors.
Turmeric is an underground root that is believed to have medicinal properties because it inhibits production of the inflammation related enzyme cyclo-oxygenase 2 , levels of which are abnormally high in certain inflammatory diseases and cancers, especially bowel and colon cancer. It is a highly potent cancer fighter and contains the phytochemical curcumin known for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-arthritic, anti-tumour and anti-amyloid effects.
Spinach is one of the wonderful green-leafy vegetable often recognized as one of the functional foods for its wholesome nutritional, antioxidants and anti-cancer composition. It is an excellent source of the iron which is an integral part of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen from the lungs to all body cells. When cells are well oxygenated there can be no cancer. It is also rich in health-promoting phytonutrients such as beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin and flavonoids like kaempferol and apigenin which provides powerful protection against ovarian and prostate cancer.
Blueberries are among the highest anti-oxidant value fruits. Their antioxidant value largely comes from poly-phenolic anthocyanidin compounds such as chlorogenic acid, tannins, myricetin, quercetin and kaempferol. Additionally they compose of other flavonoid anti-oxidants such as beta carotene, lutein and zea-xanthin. Altogether, the phyto-chemical compounds in the blueberry help rid off harmful oxygen-derived free radicals from the human body, and thereby, protect it against cancers, Pomegranate, and infections.
Pomegranate is one of the most popular anti-cancer superfood. A new study has found that a substance in pomegranates can slow or even stop the growth of breast cancer tumors. The study, just published in Cancer Prevention Research, found 10 phytochemicals in pomegranates that seem to inhibit the growth of estrogen-responsive breast tumors.The phytochemicals, called ellagitannins, work by blocking an enzyme called aromatase, which feeds estrogen and plays a key role in breast tumor growth. Regular consumption of pomegranate has also been found to be effective against prostate cancer, benign prostatic hyperplasia, diabetes, and lymphoma.