More than a third of all cancers could be prevented by changes in diet and exercise.One of the most important things you can do to reduce your risk is lose excess weight — and one of the best ways to lose weight is through a filling, fiber-rich diet, including plenty of fruits and vegetables.
But that’s not the reason why the National Cancer Institute recently approved the dietary guidance: “Diets rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of some types of cancer and other chronic diseases.” These foods are packed with antioxidants and other compounds that protect your DNA and fight free-radical damage.
Since these substances work synergistically, it’s best to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables rather than relying on one particular produce item to serve as a magic bullet against disease.Or as health writer Liz Szabo put it recently in USA Today: “A growing body of research shows that, once inside the body, fruits and vegetables spring into the role of superheroes, fighting cancer and other diseases in at least eight simultaneous ways.And, like the Superfriends, they seem to work better as a team.”
That said, here’s our top 10 list of anti-cancer fruits and vegetables that you’d do well to put on your dietary dream team:
1) TOMATOES: Lycopene, also found in watermelon, guava, and pink grapefruit, has been linked to lower risk of prostate, ovarian and cervical cancer.It also targets the free radical that is implicated in lung and digestive cancers.
2) BROCCOLI SPROUTS: The ultimate baby vegetable.One forkful triggers a cascade of antioxidant activity that lasts for days.You’ll get similar benefits from other cruciferous veggies, including broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage.Sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol protect against prostate, bladder, colon, pancreatic, gastric, breast and other hormone-related cancers.
3) BERRIES: Blueberries, cranberries, cherries, raspberries, strawberries and grapes are all rich in anthocyanins that repair and protect DNA.
4) SOYBEANS: Isoflavones such as genistein may help prevent and treat prostate cancer and may reduce breast cancer risk.
5) TEA: Both black and green contain powerful compounds shown in countless studies to lower the risk of several types of cancer.
6) PUMPKIN: This unsung superfood is a super-rich source of both beta-carotene and alpha-carotene, two hard-working carotenoids that combat lung and ovarian cancer.Other good bets: carrots, yams, squash, melons and sweet red peppers.
7) SPINACH: Popeye’s favorite may help KO cancers of the liver, ovaries, colon and prostate.The active antioxidant lutein is also found in kale and other leafy greens.
8) GARLIC: Allium veggies (which also include onions and scallions) work to get your body’s own antioxidant defense systems in gear.This process provides protective benefits against stomach, esophageal and breast cancers.
9) PINEAPPLE: The enzyme bromelain may inhibit the growth of malignant cells in both lung and breast cancer, while the phenolic compounds also provide a protective benefit.
10) APPLE: Can one a day help keep cancer at bay? Studies show quercetin may reduce the risk of lung cancer and impede growth of prostate cancer cells.Other antioxidants, together with pectin, help halt colon and liver cancer cell replication.