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Cancer-Preventing Foods

According to the National Cancer Institute, dietary factors play a significant role in cancer risks. A recent review estimates that 80 percent of cancers of the large bowel, breast and prostate are due to dietary factors. Clearly, what we eat affects our health. We can fight this dreaded disease by selecting foods that contain cancer-fighting agents.

Most doctors agree that a diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grain and low fat can help lower cancer risks. However, some categories lead the pack:

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Cruciferous Vegetables

This group of vegetables includes cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, kale and Brussels sprouts. They are rich in an antioxidant called sulforaphane. Antioxidants capture free radicals and prevent them from causing damage to the cell membrane and its DNA, both of which are linked to cancer risk.


Dark Green Vegetables, Beans and Peas

What do these foods have in common? Folic acid. It's nature's built-in repair machinery at your disposal -- folic acid fixes damaged DNA and helps prevent cancer. Load your diet with these and you'll never be sorry.

Red, Orange, Yellow and Blue Fruits and Vegetables

When fruits and vegetables are endowed with bright colors, they don't just look pretty. They are gems of powerful antioxidants chock full of vitamins C and E, carotenoids, and fiber. Carotene is the most widely known carotenoid and offers protection against lung, colorectal, breast, uterine and prostate cancer. How?

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Carotenes destroy oxygen-free radicals in lipids, enhance the immune system and protect cells against UV radiation. Examples include carrots, apricots, citrus fruits, squash and tomatoes.

Blue, red or purple foods contain anthocyanins. These powerful antioxidants protect capillaries from oxidative damage and are anti-inflammatory. Load your shopping cart with beets, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, grapes and purple cabbage and save yourself a doctor visit.


Green Tea

So you like your cup of green tea after a meal? That's a good habit to continue. Researches show that green tea is packed with natural phytochemicals that may help prevent normal cells from becoming cancerous.

Ginger

Ginger is more than a culinary spice. It contains a cancer-fighting phytochemical called gingerol, which has anti-inflammatory properties and is anti-carcinogenic. Fringe benefit: It can help soothe an upset stomach.

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Its cousin, turmeric (known in Asia as yellow ginger) is a popular ingredient in curries and Asian dishes. Used in traditional and Indian medicine since the 7th century, this root contains an ingredient known as curcumin. It has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties that can suppress cancer cells.


Soy

Soy products are known to be good for your heart and immune system. However, scientists have also uncovered its cancer-fighting properties. Full of phytochemicals, soy can prevent breast cancer and relieve menopausal symptoms. In addition, it is full of anti-estrogens, which can block estrogens that lead to breast cancer development. Consider adding tofu, soymilk, edamame and tempeh (fermented soy) into your diet.

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Fish

Eating fish on a regular basis can reap lots of health benefits. Fish can boost brain power and lower cholesterol with its Omega-3 fatty acids. However, these fatty acids also have been proven to prevent colon and prostate cancer. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fatty fish like salmon, trout and herring.

Spices

Do you love to spice up your foods with natural herbs? Not only does it add favor to your food, but it also may add years to your life. It helps to ward off cancer and slow the growth of tumors. In a USDA review of 39 herbs, researchers found that oregano, dill, thyme and rosemary have some of the highest levels of cancer-fighting antioxidants. Other herbs to consider: sage, chive and chili peppers. They are also good cancer busters.{relatedarticles}