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Foods for Fighting Cancer

Observing National Cancer Prevention Month with the American Institute for Cancer Research 

February is National Cancer Prevention Month and a good time to think about the connection between diet and cancer risk. Though no one food can prevent cancer by itself, research suggests several foods may be especially important for lowering risk. The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) has created a list of Foods That Fight Cancer™ focusing on foods that get asked about most often. This list includes—you guessed it—plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Here’s a few to include in your diet and the research compiled by AICR. 

Blueberries pack antioxidant power thanks to phytochemicals such as anthocyanins and ellagic acid. These healthful compounds can lessen cancer-causing free radical damage to DNA. Blueberries also provide vitamin C, which can inhibit carcinogen formation, and dietary fiber, which may specifically help defend against cancer in the colon. 

Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables such as kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower contain glucosinolates, compounds that are broken down into isothiocyanates such as sulforaphane when eaten. Lab studies show these compounds may help ward off cancer by inhibiting enzymes that activate carcinogens and by activating genes that suppress cancer cell growth. We’ve previously reported that broccoli may help in the fight against oral, liver, breast, skin and prostate cancers.  

Carrots are a top source of vitamin A and contain carotenoids like beta-carotene, which are important for maintaining normal cell growth. A 2014 study suggests eating vegetables like carrots that are rich in beta-carotene and zeaxanthin, another carotenoid, may specifically help lower the risk of pancreatic cancer

Dark Green Leafy Vegetables like spinach, kale and lettuce contain folate, fiber and phytochemicals such as carotenoids and flavonoids. Greens are a source of antioxidant power, which can help protect cells from free radical damage. 

Grapes contain the polyphenol resveratrol, mainly in the skin. Studies have shown resveratrol has anti-inflammatory power and can help prevent cancer formation and growth. 

Other foods that made the cancer-fighting list include apples, cherries, coffee, cranberries, legumes, flaxseed, garlic, grapefruit, winter squash, tomatoes, walnuts and whole grains. 

Snack on our Spicy Sambal Dipping Sauce with fresh broccoli, cauliflower and mini carrots for a punch of cancer-fighting nutrients!

Published February 1, 2017

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