Plant based foods, especially fruits and vegetables, have notable anti cancer effects and help prevent carcinogenesis.
The quality of the food we consume is crucial for our health. It is only natural, therefore, that the foods we consume are directly linked to cancer cell growth. Indeed, dozens of studies have highlighted the importance a balanced diet has on cancer prevention and have identified certain foods or eating patterns as either carcinogenic or anti cancer. Below are the most important anti cancer substances and the foods they can be found in:
Antioxidants are substances that have the ability to neutralize free radicals in the body. Free radicals are released into the body primarily via the process of food metabolism or via the environment through the cigarette smoke, contaminated air, ultraviolet rays, etc.
It has been proven that free radicals can damage our cells and their genetic material, by converting chemicals into carcinogens which favor the development of carcinogenesis. Therefore, antioxidants that are able to fight free radicals can prevent carcinogenesis.
Antioxidants include vitamins (C, E and B-carotene) and minerals such as selenium, manganese and zinc. Numerous studies have shown that a diet rich in natural foods, especially fruits and vegetables that have a lot of antioxidants, is able to protect the body, to some extent, from carcinogenesis. Tomatoes and melons, which contain large amounts of the antioxidant lycopene, are important anti cancer foods. Vitamin D, which we receive more through exposure to sun than through diet, is also known for its anti cancer activity.
It has not yet been proven whether antioxidant supplements have the same anti cancer properties as the corresponding natural foods. Studies on the effect of increased doses of B-carotene through dietary supplements have concluded that these not only not benefit the body but, in some cases, have detrimental effects upon it.
Research indicates that moderate potassium intake (about 1000 mg daily for adults up to 50 years old and 1200 mg for adults past 50) may have anti cancer activity, particularly regarding the emergence of cancer in the digestive system. It is however preferable to receive potassium through natural foods rather than through supplements. Research has also shown that high amounts of potassium in the body are associated with prostate cancer.
Foods that contain potassium are dairy products, oranges, grapefruit, kiwis, bananas, spinach, apricots, peas, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, coffee and dried figs.
Vitamin B17 is a substance found in the nuclei of most fruit especially apricots, cherries, apples, plums, pears and almonds. It has been observed that vitamin B17 acts beneficially for the body as it inhibits cancer cell growth.
There is some evidence that some types of fat found in fish (omega 3) and olive products help the body deal with carcinogenesis.
Recent studies have shown that abundant intake of folic acid is associated with reduced risk of cancer, particularly in the breast and digestive tract. Folic acid is a type of water soluble B vitamin present in various fruits (orange, banana, avocado), legumes (especially lentils and beans), fresh vegetables (spinach, broccoli), nuts and pasta.
Although there is no conclusive evidence that the soybean has anti cancer effects, soy is an excellent substitute for unnecessary red meat portions and thus helps reduce cancer risk. However, experts believe that excessive consumption of soy increases estrogen activity, which has, repeatedly, been associated with the development of breast and endometrial cancer.
It has been scientifically proven that water reduces the risk of bladder cancer and assists the body in maintaining low fat levels. It is recommended to drink at least 8 to 9 glasses of water daily. As long as the water does not contain arsenic, which favors carcinogenesis, particularly in the lungs, it provides the organism with many health benefits.
Based on the information presented above, the beneficial anti cancer effects of plant based foods is rather obvious. Hundreds of studies have shown that diets rich in fruits and vegetables prevent lung, mouth, esophagus, stomach, colon, throat, larynx, pancreas, liver and uterus cancer.
Experts recommend that we should consume at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis, or approximately 600 gm of plant based food. In general, the consumption of whole fruits is believed to be more beneficial that drinking a fruit juice. Also, frozen vegetables are not necessarily less nutritious that fresh, if frozen immediately after being cut. On the other hand, canned vegetables have lost many of their nutritional benefits. Finally, it is obvious that boiled vegetables have lower nutritional value compared with raw or steamed vegetables.
So, which are the main plant based anti cancer foods, in a nutshell?
Al kinds of fruits, especially oranges, apples, strawberries, kiwi, mango, tangerines, grapefruit, figs, blackberries, melons, apricots, peaches and plums contain vitamin B17.
Also vegetables, particularly those containing folic acid like spinach, broccoli, peas, watercress, lentils, garlic, peppers, lettuce, tomato, carrot, onion, potato, cauliflower, cabbage, beans and mushrooms.
Also legumes, fish, some nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, walnuts, chestnuts, grains (especially oats), wholegrain bread, virgin olive oil and some kinds of tea.