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Best Foods to Help Prevent Cancer

Incorporating these healthy foods into your diet can help to prevent cancer.

About 1 in 8 U.S. women will develop breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. Causes can range from hereditary to environmental, but measures can be taken in either case to lessen your chances of developing the disease. Nothing can replace the benefits of early detection and regular medical checkups, let's be clear about that. At the same time, proper diet and certain foods can prepare the body to fight malignant cancer cells at the onset. 

A diet that could ward off cancer really doesn't look much different from the healthy foods you should be eating anyway. Comprehensive reviews of thousands of studies on diet, physical activity, and weight conducted for the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research all pointed to the same thing, it couldn't really hurt. They're are plenty of benefits of eating mostly foods of plant origin and cancer-fighting nutrients are only a few of them. Use these ingredients in your daily diet to increase your odds of staying cancer-free.

Flaxseed

Photo by AlishaV

Flax is an alpha-Linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid which boosts the immune system, lowers cholesterol, and prevents cancer. It can be bought as whole seed, ground, or flaxseed oil. It is rich in lignans, which act as anti-estrogens or weak estrogens. This makes it particularly effective against estrogen-dependent cancers, such as breast cancer. Many people prefer to consume ground flax, since it is easier to digest, and can be added to yogurt, salad, or a smoothie. Flaxseed oil is perfect with salad dressings or incorporated into baked goods, like muffins or bread. Flax milk is also a great alternative to cow's milk for those of you trying to remove dairy from your diet. With the increase in popularity of the health food industry, these products can be found everywhere from Whole Foods to your local A&P.

Green Tea

Photo by Dano

Drinking green tea has been linked to lower incidences of many different types of cancer. The polypheols in green tea keep cancer cells from invading the cells in the body. It can also prevent metastasis of cancer that has already developed. The antioxidants contained in green tea also promote overall immune system health, keeping cancer and other illnesses at bay. Steeping one to two teaspoons of dried green tea, or 1 tea bag, for three to 15 minutes will derive the best taste and optimum health benefits. It can also be consumed in capsule form.

Garlic

Image via Visual Hunt

Garlic and its relatives, such as onions, leeks, scallions, and chives, are shown to slow tumor growth and prevent cancer risk, as well as the risk of other forms of cancer. Crush or swallow a piece of garlic every morning, or use garlic in the cooking of other foods by crushing it, mincing it, or using garlic powder. Though scientists aren't sure why garlic has cancer-preventing traits, it seems that it restricts blood flow to cancer cells, making it harder for them to grow.

Pomegranate

Photo by Prathyush Thomas

Pomegranate contains polyphenol, an elegiac acid with antioxidant properties that prevent cancer growth. Pomegranate seeds can be eaten as is, or the fruit can be juiced. Chemicals in the fruit are known to suppress aromatase, which helps produce estrogen. Since most breast cancers require estrogen to develop, this greatly reduces the risk of breast cancer in people who regularly consume pomegranate. Pomegranate supplements and pomegranate extract are also available as ways to consume this fruit.

Broccoli

Photo by Muffet

Alright, we know some of you may cringe on this one. Broccoli is one of those vegetables people either love or hate, but is a superfood none the less. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, cabbage, and kale regulate cell growth in multiple ways. Broccoli activates genes that fight cancer and shuts off genes that can fuel tumors and other cancerous cells. Broccoli can be eaten raw, sauteed, or incorporated into a variety of dishes. However, some of the nutrients in broccoli are lost with cooking, so eating it raw provides the most health benefits. Try dipping it in some ranch dressing to moisten it up a bit. You'll thank us later

Salmon

Image via Visual Hunt

Rejoice! Your favorite sushi roll may aid in fighting cancer. Salmon are packed with omega-3s, selenium, vitamin B12 and vitamin D, nutrients you need to regulate cell growth and prevent cancer. Vitamin D has been shown to restrict blood flow to cancerous cells, preventing their growth. Salmon can be baked, grilled, sautéed, or poached. Wild salmon often have higher levels of cancer-fighting nutrients than farmed salmon as well as lower levels of toxins from polluted water. Eat it raw, or sauté in a little olive oil and lemon for a delicious quick dinner that is good for your health.

Apples

Image via Visual Hunt

Ah, something we're all a little more familiar with. Apples contain quercetin and flavonoids, which are associated with lower cancer risks. Flavonoids act like antioxidants, supporting inflammation control and fighting anything in the body that is destructive to genes. Like the chemicals in broccoli, these chemicals have the power to turn off cancer-causing genes, as well as to turn on cancer-fighting genes. Apples can be eaten whole, used in baking, or crushed to use in applesauce. They are also great to add to a 'mostly green' smoothie. The sweetness in apples overpowers the bitterness is most green vegetables, making it easier to eat them daily.

Kale

Photo by Laurel Fan

I scream, you scream, we all scream for kale! In the last few years, kale has become the superstar of the vegetable world. Kale juice, kale salad, even kale chips! Dark green, leafy vegetables such as kale, collards, spinach, and Swiss chard have all of the best nutrients your body needs to fend off cancerous cells. They contain fiber, vitamin B, phytochemicals, and chlorophyll. Kale is great sautéed with olive oil, onion, and garlic, or raw in a salad.

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