Making Sense of Cancer Fighting Foods

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As with many other diseases today, our diet and food choices are a big factor in both our risk for cancer and our best way to prevent it. By now, you should know to limit your intake of red meat, limit your consumption of processed foods, quit drinking alcohol and never eat junk food.

But what’s all the hype about antioxidants and free radicals? “Leave the science to the pro’s”, you say, “I just want to know what I should eat”.

If you look up “antioxidant” on Wikipedia, you get an explanation that looks like a medical student’s thesis paper and almost no simple guidance on what to eat. So, if you’re still wondering what to buy on your next trip to the supermarket, here is a simple list, along with some ideas how to incorporate them into your family meals:

Beans – Kidney, navy, black, pinto, garbanzo, soy and lima beans. Chili, anyone? Also lentils and peas. Chick peas in the form of hummus is a tasty cancer-fighting snack. Roasted soy beans make a handy on-the-go alternative to potato chips.

Berries – Strawberries, raspberries and blueberries are rich in cancer-fighting qualities. Sugar-coated berries with a little homemade whipped cream can be a satisfying dessert for even the fussiest eater.

Other Fruits – Kiwifruit, citrus fruits and grapes (red grapes have more cancer-fighting compound than green grapes) are great cancer preventers. You can choose one glass of red wine to be your serving of grapes, but remember that more than one glass is thought to increase your risk for cancer. Serve your kids 100% fruit juices, but watch the sugar content.

Vegetables – Choose only dark lettuce-type foods for your salads. Ditch that zero-nutrient iceberg lettuce (the cheap light green stuff) and opt for spinach, romaine, kale and leaf lettuce. Tomatoes should be a staple in your home as they have known cancer-fighting properties – tomato juice, tomato sauce and tomato paste are just as effective. Also eat lots of broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, bok choy, kale and cabbage – a great excuse to make a Chinese-style stir-fry more often. Avocados, carrots and corn are also good.

Fish – Incorporate Salmon or Tuna into your meal plan at least once a week. Cook tuna burgers for the kids. Barbeque salmon in foil. Try sushi. These types of fish are high in Omega-3, known to fight some cancers.

Oils – Cook with olive oil instead of the cheaper oils. While a bit more expensive, using olive oil is worth the added nutrients and cancer-fighting qualities. Flaxseed is the best-known plant source of Omega-3 fatty acids, the food compound known to prevent some cancers – but it’s taste takes some getting used to and it’s not good to cook with. You take flaxseed as a supplement (also good for dry skin and dandruff). If you eat a lot of margarine, never eat one that contains hydrogenated oil – go for brands like Becel.

Garlic & Spice – Adding freshly-crushed garlic to your cooking can help your family fight cancer. There is also some evidence that curry, an East Indian spice, can fight some cancers. Serving Italian, Greek or Indian food is a great way to spice up your family menu, anyway. (PS: buy some gum).

Nuts – Brazil Nuts are high in selenium, a cancer-fighting compound good for fighting prostate cancer, but avoid if you are allergic to nuts.

Green Tea – Black tea has some cancer-fighting qualities, but green tea has three times more. Green tea also speeds up your metabolism, helping you to shed some unwanted pounds.

Soy Products – Tofu, tofu burgers, soy milk, soybeans and soy nuts are not just for vegetarians any more. Soy has been shown to inhibit growth of breast and prostate cancer cells because soy contains high levels of estrogen. Don’t eat soy if you are on anti-estrogen meds.

Whole Grains – Eat only unprocessed, unbleached grains and bread products. This means brown bread instead of white bread, brown or wild rice instead of white rice and no donuts or croissants. Learn to bake with whole wheat flour. Choose oatmeal, granola, or bran-based cereals. Make your pasta with whole wheat noodles. And, corn flour tortillas and nachos can make a fun Mexican fiesta meal for your family.

Drink Water – Not the bottled stuff, but regular tap water. Recent studies have shown that bottles used in bottled water contain the same toxin as baby bottles. Water nourishes every cell in your body, while flushing out the toxins.

So, the list is big enough that you should not feel limited by your choices. And while some of these foods do a better job fighting localized cancers than others, the best policy is to learn to incorporate most of the above foods into your weekly meal planning as possible. Eating the listed foods will do much more than just prevent cancer – this is the way we were intended to eat and can help battle many other common diseases and conditions.

Advice for Food Preparation

Whenever possible, try to eat veggies and fruits raw (wash well). Try having cut fruits and veggies in your fridge at all times for easy snacking.

The best way to cook vegetables is to steam them, but if you don’t have a steamer under cook them on a stovetop or in your oven, depending on your recipe. Overcooked vegetables have limited cancer-fighting qualities because you have cooked out a lot of the nutritional value. A little crunch is good for you.

Try to serve pasta el dante (just barely cooked), again to keep the nutrients.

And the biggest tip – stop using your microwave to cook! Microwave ovens are a new convenience that is causing more harm than good. They actually change the molecular structure of your food, zapping all nutritional value. Try to limit your microwave use to simple re-heating (lowest power is best). Don’t overheat.

Grocery Shopping Made Easy

Now you know what to buy to help your family lower the risk of developing cancer. Eating healthy is easy and fun for the whole family.

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