Medically reviewed by
Courtney Moore, MS, RD, LD
McLeod Outpatient Oncology Registered Dietitian
At some point you have probably read a reference to “super foods” that can be eaten to help prevent cancer. However, most nutrition and cancer experts will tell you that no single food will prevent cancer.
Foods — and humans — are complex. Foods contain many chemicals. And, our interaction with the food we eat is not a simple, purified version of a chemical mixing with cells in a test tube.
“Although one specific food alone cannot reduce your risk of cancer, there are nutrients that exist in specific foods that can influence your risk. It is best to regularly incorporate these foods into your diet for the maximum benefit,” saysMcLeod Oncology Dietitian Courtney Moore. “Choosing foods rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals can help to naturally protect your health against cancer and various other chronic diseases.”
ANTI-CANCER FOODS & SUBSTANCES
ANTIOXIDANTS are compounds that can block chemicals in the body, called free radicals, which damage cells and can lead to cancer. Foods that are high in antioxidants include:
SULFORAPHANE is a sulfur-based phytochemical found in all cruciferous vegetables. Research suggests it may be beneficial in reducing cancer risk by blocking DNA mutations and reducing inflammation within the body. Some examples of vegetables containing this component are:
ISOFLAVONE is a phytochemical commonly found in a variety of legumes. Evidence suggests that consumption of foods containing foods rich in isoflavones can reduce your risk of breast and prostate cancers. Foods high in dietary isoflavones include:
Following these additional dietary habits can help reduce your risk for specific types of cancer:
FOODS TO AVOID
Research shows there are some foods that can increase your riskof cancer. Foods to limit/avoid include:
ACTION YOU CAN TAKE
Gone are the times of “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” For maximum cancer prevention and long term health, it is important to enjoy a variety of nutrient dense foods in your diet.
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Sources include: McLeod Health, American Cancer Society, National Cancer Research Institute (UK), World Cancer Research Fund, AARP, American Institute for Cancer Research