9 Foods That Can Lower Your Risk of Cancer


Arguably the most powerful anti-cancer super food, GARLIC can amplify the activity of protective cell immunity, like the natural killer cells that rid the body of cells affected by cancer and viruses without disturbing healthy cells. Garlic can also reduce inflammation, which has been linked to the development of cancer. One big clove of garlic can produce a surge of cancer-suppressing proteins within hours of consumption. Raw garlic is the most nutrient-dense form of this herb, and consuming it raw is the best way to reap its benefits; for example, raw garlic can be added to salsa, pesto, and salad dressing. If the taste of raw garlic isn’t appealing to you, garlic can be cooked—though heat tends to kill off the powerful enzymes. By waiting 10 minutes after chopping the garlic, allicin, a phytonutrient responsible for most of garlic’s benefits, will have enough time to fully form and serve as a heat protectant.1,2


Rich in omega-3s,álinolenic acid, lignan, and fiber, FLAXSEED has primarily been recognized for its prevention and management properties in breast cancer. The lignan found in flaxseeds, though structurally similar to estrogen, demonstrates antiestrogen activity that can bind to cancer cells, shrink tumors, and kill cancer cells. The daily recommended 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed can be added to oatmeal, cereal, and smoothies.3,4

Sweet Potato

Cancer-fighting proteins capable of surviving digestion and making their way into the bloodstream unaffected are found in SWEET POTATOES. These delicious tubers, with
their bright orange or purple color, are great sources of vitamin A and beta-carotene,
which reduce the risk of lung, stomach, and colon cancers. The proteins found in sweet potatoes have demonstrated the ability to decrease cancer cell migration, slowing the disease’s development in patients with colon cancer. Purple sweet potatoes are high in anthocyanins, a compound with antioxidant effects and anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory benefits. Boiling sweet potatoes enhances their cancer-fighting properties, whereas baking and frying sweet potatoes diminishes their potency and benefits.5,6

Cruciferous Vegetables

Sulfur-containing chemicals, known as glucosinolates, which break down during the digestive process and form indoles, nitriles, thiocyanates, and isothiocyanates, are primarily found in CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES. These compounds harness anti-cancer properties that prevent inflammation, induce cancer cell death, and inactivate carcinogens. An increased intake of broccoli (and cruciferous vegetables in general) is associated with lower risks of prostate, colon, lung, and breast cancers. Broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, and Bok choy are some examples of cruciferous vegetables.7


As ideal sources of cancer preventative agents, BERRIES, such as blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, raspberries, and blackberries, contain phytonutrients that can prevent and slow the progression of cancer cells and tumor growth. Berries also contain polyphenol compounds that have anti-inflammatory activity, which can also lower the risk of cancer development. Blackberries, for example, have been shown to reduce and even get rid of rectal polyps, which tend to become cancerous if not removed.8,9


Though the benefits of KALE have been previously explained, this super food, which is considered one of the cruciferous vegetables, deserves a section of its own. The chlorophyll found in kale binds to carcinogens in the body from outside sources and helps keep the body from absorbing them; moreover, a higher consumption of kale has been linked to a lower risk of cancer. Kale is a great source of other cancer-fighting agents, such as vitamin C, beta- carotene, fiber, and selenium. Frozen kale tends to have a higher antioxidant capacity than fresh. Steaming fresh or frozen kale enhances its anti-cancer properties. Kale can be added to stir-fries, soups, and salads for a healthful kick.10,11


Phytic acid, an antioxidant found in BEANS, offers anticarcinogenic protection to the body by inhibiting the activation of cancer cells, especially colon and breast cancer cells. Much like the benefits of garlic, phytic acid boosts the body’s immune response and disposes of cancer cells. Beans can be cooked or sprouted for optimal absorption of nutrients. And contrary to the myth that soybeans can cause or even worsen breast cancer, phytoestrogens (plant estrogen) actually protect breast tissue, even in patients with active estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. Genistein, the
main isoflavone found in soy that acts like phytoestrogens, exhibits antioxidant and antimetastatic properties that can hinder the growth of cancer cells and reduce estrogen levels, which are linked to breast cancer.12,13


Turmeric root is the primary source of CURCUMIN, the component responsible for turmeric’s yellow coloring. The anti-tumor and anti-cancer properties linked with curcumin are thought to be caused by a reprogramming of cancer cells to self-destruct. Cancer cells don’t normally die off like other cells in the body, and curcumin is thought to activate and regulate their death receptors, killing the cancer cells from within and reducing the size of tumors. Curcumin is also thought to reduce inflammation by preventing TNF proteins from signaling an immune response, which can damage tissue. Important to note: Though existing research supporting potential health benefits of curcumin are extensive and promising, very few randomized, controlled studies assessing curcumin’s health benefits, including anti-cancer effects, have been done in humans, which tempers the many claims of its anti-cancer properties. Until more research has been done,
turmeric should never be consumed in large amounts, but there is no reason to stop enjoying turmeric to spice up your cooking. Use a small amount (~1⁄4 teaspoon) of turmeric to add color and flavor (and possibly some health benefits) to your sauces, soups, and salads.14-16

Whole Grains

Quinoa, brown rice, farro, oatmeal, and barley are a few examples of WHOLE GRAINS that are linked to a decreased risk of cancer development. The bioactive phytochemicals found in whole grains, along with compounds such as fiber, vitamin E, selenium, and phenols have been shown to promote anticancer activity in the body. The fiber in whole grains can induce feelings of satiety, which can assist you with maintaining a healthy weight and reducing excess fat, which can lead to inflammation and increase risk of cancer. Consuming 90 grams (or 3 ounces) of whole grains a day is associated with a 17-percent reduction in colon cancer risk .17,18

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