Reduce Your Odds (With a Fork)

Using food to reduce the risk of cancer for you and your loved ones.

There are many tools available for your cancer-fighting toolbox, but what you put in your mouth may be your strongest weapon in the war against cancer. Experts across the globe agree that a cancer-fighting diet consists of predominantly plant-based foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, herbs, and spices), and when you look at your plate of food, at least two-thirds should have originated from plants.

For many, this may mean a drastic change in diet. However, no matter how big a change you need to make, even small dietary changes can help cut your risk. Though there is no magic food that can completely eliminate your risk for cancer, a healthy variety of foods can help keep cancer at bay.

When you’re ready to cut your cancer risk, consider the following list of foods that show promise in preventing and fighting cancer, and add at least one to your diet today.

Cruciferous Vegetables. Members of the cabbage family, cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, and turnip greens. Though you may have hated these vegetables as a child, they have been shown to help defend your body against cancer. They do this thanks to the high amount of antioxidants (compounds that neutralize dangerous, cell-damaging free radicals) and enzymes that work to rid your body of carcinogens before they are able to damage your DNA. So stop turning your nose up at these foods and start chowing down!

Tea. Green and black teas contain antioxidants called polyphenols. These oddly named antioxidants stop cancer by preventing cancerous cells from dividing, thereby keeping cancer from spreading. Polyphenols are also found in olive oil and red wine. Herbal teas, however, do not have the same cancer-fighting properties. In addition to polyphenols, many teas contain flavonoids, which have been shown to reduce women’s risk for ovarian and breast cancers.

Berries. When it comes to using foods to reduce your cancer risk, color is the order of the day. Because the more colorful your diet, the stronger defense you’ll have against all sorts of cancer. And what is more colorful than a handful of bright red, purple, and blue berries? Every berry bite is full of antioxidants, fiber, and vitamin C, all properties that protect against various cancers. Want the biggest berry boost for your buck? Go with black raspberries, which have been found to be more powerful in the fight against cancer than blueberries or strawberries.

Spices. Adding a little flavor to your food is not only good for your presentation and your palate, but it also incredibly good for your health. Tumeric and curcumin are two spices that contain cancer-fighting anti-inflammatory enzymes. Additionally, ginger—which has been used to relieve nausea for centuries, is now known to actively seek and destroy cancer cells. So the next time you drink a glass of ginger ale or chow down on a gingerbread cookie, take comfort knowing you may be ridding your body of cancerous cells.

Garlic. Besides warding off vampires and making your breath smell like…well, garlic, eating garlic is particularly beneficial in lowering your risk for stomach and colorectal cancers because of its anti-bacterial properties. What anti-bacterial properties? Garlic contains compounds that aid your immune system in fighting cancer, help break down carcinogens, and slow tumor growth. So add a little more garlic to your favorite meal for a burst of flavor and a reduction in your likelihood of suffering from cancer.

The List Goes On

As you probably guessed, there are plenty of other foods that can cut your cancer risk. Here are a few of them.

Fruits: figs, grapefruit, avocados, tomatoes, red grapes, oranges, lemons, and papayas

Vegetables: carrots, chili peppers, jalapenos, seaweed, and sweet potatoes

Other: nuts, whole grains, mushrooms, licorice root, and rosemary
In case you didn’t notice, all these foods are plant-based. Join the fight against cancer starting at your kitchen table. By adding more plant-based foods to your table, you can go a long way in the war against cancer for you and your loved ones.

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