Did you know if Americans ate a healthy, balanced diet emphasizing the vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans to help maintain a healthful weight, as many as one-third of all cancer deaths in the United States could be prevented? That's what is suggested by the American Cancer Society (2009). With this is mind, and with fresh fruits and vegetables in season, let's take a look at the top 10 cancer-fighting foods:
Berries are antioxidants, working to sweep up free radicals in the body that can cause cancer. They are full of vitamins and minerals, and a wide range of colors (e.g. strawberries, blueberries and blackberries) may reduce your risk for several cancers.
Vegetables such as kale, broccoli, spinach and cabbage are nutrient-dense and shown to tear down cancer-causing compounds and slow, or possibly stop, growth of cancer cells.
Fruits such as grapefruits, oranges, lemons and other citrus-type fruits contain vitamin C, beta-carotene and folic acid and serve to sweep away harmful bodily carcinogens.
Beans are high in fiber that can help to decrease risk of digestive-type cancers, and they contain phytochemicals shown to avert and/or slow inevitable damage to cells. Eating beans has been shown to be beneficial in reducing the risk for many types of cancer, particularly prostate cancer.
Garlic, onions, leeks and chives serve to boost the immune cells needed to fight cancer. They contain compounds said to block cancer-causing agents from entering cells, and also to slow the growth of existing cancer tumors.
Flax, found in a variety of cereals, breads, bars and supplements, are a great source of lignan, omega-3 fatty acids, and soluble fiber. Chia seeds are very similar in terms of nutrients provided, with the exception of the lignan. Between the two, they serve to do a variety of services including to block hormone-related cancers, fight free radicals and lower triglycerides.
Black and green teas contain antioxidants shown to prevent cancer cells from dividing, with green tea being said to be most beneficial in this area. These antioxidants, known as polyphenols, are also found in olive oil and in red wines.
Tomatoes, carrots, red peppers and watermelon contain lycopene and vitamin C, both of which are cancer-fighting antioxidants, with tomatoes containing the highest levels. When cooked in a small amount of olive oil, the antioxidants in these foods also become more concentrated and are more readily absorbed.
Whole grains, when eaten as part of a balanced diet, can help decrease the risk for development of most cancers as they contain a number of anti-cancer compounds including fiber.
Dark chocolate! That's right, the American Cancer Society says you can eat chocolate in moderation (1-2 ounces/day) for the purpose of cancer prevention! Dark chocolate and cocoa contain flavonoids and polyphenols of green tea and red wine, serving to inhibit development and/or stop division of cancer cells. In order to be effective, look for a concentration of 65% or higher.
In addition, the American Cancer Society (2009) suggests people who are moderately-to-vigorously active are at a lower risk of developing certain cancers (e.g. colon and breast) than those who aren't. The risk is lowered regardless of whether there may be weight issues, but being overweight or being obese have been shown to be linked to many types of cancer. Physical activity helps in efforts to maintain a healthy weight and/or to lose weight, and also helps to fight health problems such as heart disease and diabetes. Add FitXpress chair exercise DVD's to your in-home physical activity efforts. Call 1-800-481-7449 today for your FREE sample DVD!
Until next month, eat right and be physically active in an effort to be healthy and be happy.