Best Foods For Cancer Prevention

Best Food for Cancer Prevention

by Kari Hartel, RD, LD
Program Coordinator, Cooking Matters, Operation Food Search

Unfortunately, we’ve probably all been touched by cancer in some way or another, whether it be from a personal struggle with the disease or knowing a friend, colleague or family member who has suffered from it. While there are many factors involved in cancer development, diet plays a significant role in cancer prevention. Let’s look at the foods that best protect us from cancer.

Cruciferous Vegetables
While all fruits, vegetables and whole grains contain a variety of phytochemicals–natural plant compounds that confer beneficial properties–cruciferous vegetables have been shown to house a large amount of these cancer-killing chemicals. Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts, contain glucosinolates, which have been found to inhibit the metabolism of certain carcinogens and increase the production of enzymes responsible for detoxification.

Berries pack quite a powerful nutrition punch in such a tiny package. Research continues to prove that these naturally-sweet little fruits house some of the strongest, most potent antioxidants around for preventing cancer. Raspberries, blueberries and cranberries are particularly strong cancer-fighters. Toss some berries into your morning cereal, make a filling fruit and yogurt parfait, fold them into your pancakes and muffins or simply enjoy a handful as a snack.

Fatty Fish
Fatty fish provide omega-3 fatty acids, which have been proven to reduce inflammation in the body. Because chronic inflammation has been linked with many forms of cancer, it’s important to include plenty of omega-3 fats in your diet. Be sure to reach the recommended two servings of fatty fish per week by adding wild salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel, trout, herring or sardines to your diet.

Tomatoes contain the mighty antioxidant called lycopene. Scientific studies have discovered that lycopene can help prevent cancers of the prostate, lung and stomach. Some studies have also shown than diets rich in lycopene may prevent cancers of the oral cavity, esophagus, colon, rectum, breast and cervix. Your body absorbs the most lycopene when tomatoes are cooked and served with some fat, such as olive oil. A quick lycopene-rich dish: whole-grain pasta with marinara sauce.

Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruits, such as oranges, tangerines and grapefruit, are abundant in vitamin C – an antioxidant that can help stop the formation of cancerous compounds. Research has shown that dietary patterns that include plenty of foods rich in vitamin C are correlated with a lower risk of cancers of the colon, stomach, bladder, esophagus, cervix and breast.

Nuts & Seeds
Diets rich in vitamin E have been linked with a reduced risk of cancers of the colon, stomach, liver and lungs. Foods that are a good source of cancer-fighting vitamin E include sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts (technically a legume) and butters made from these nuts. Enjoy a tablespoon of almond butter or peanut butter spread on a slice of toasted whole-grain bread for a delicious, filling, cancer-preventing snack.

HAVE YOUR PIE AND LET OTHERS EAT, TOO! Operation Food Search is launching a “PIElot program” Operation PhilanthroPIE, taking orders for home-style pumpkin, apple and pecan pies for Thanksgiving. Pies will be available for purchase online beginning Thursday, October 24 through Thursday, November 14, 2013 at www.OperationFoodSearch.org, and available for pick up on Wednesday, November 27, the day before Thanksgiving at: Operation Food Search headquarters in University City, or at Lewy Nine’s Restaurant at River City Casino in South County. Proceeds from each pie sale will provide a Thanksgiving feast for a local family in need. For more information, visit OperationFoodSearch.org.