Cancer superfoods list
Saturday, 06 March 2010 08:52
SINGAPORE – Have you ever wondered which types of food can fight cancer?
A Straits Times report has compiled a list of superfoods that can fight off cancer.
Beans(also known as legumes) include lentils and peas along with many other varieties. Soybeans fall into this category as well.
The active ingredients in beans that scientists believe may play a role in cancer prevention include: saponins, protease inhibitors and phytic acid. These compounds, called phytochemicals, are found naturally in plants and appear to protect our cells from damage that can lead to cancer.
Berries including strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are good sources of vitamin C and fiber. Foods high in vitamin C probably protect against cancer of the esophagus, while foods containing dietary fiber probably decrease colorectal cancer risk.
All berries, but particularly strawberries and raspberries, are rich in ellagic acid. In laboratory studies, this phytochemical has shown the ability to prevent cancers of the skin, bladder, lung, esophagus and breast. Research suggests that ellagic acid seems to utilise several different cancer-fighting methods at once: it acts as an antioxidant, it helps the body deactivate specific carcinogens and it helps slow the reproduction of cancer cells.
Strawberries also contain a wide range of other phytochemicals, called flavonoids, each of which seems to employ a similar array of anti-cancer strategies.
Blueberries contain a family of phenolic compounds called anthocyanosides, which many scientists believe are among the most potent antioxidants yet discovered.
Garlic belongs to the family of vegetables called Allium, which also includes onions, scallions, leeks and chives. According to AICR's second expert report foods belonging to the allium family of vegetables probably protect against stomach cancer. Moreover, the evidence in the report shows that garlic, in particular, probably decreases one's chances of developing colorectal cancer.
GRAPES AND GRAPE JUICE
Both grapes and grape juice are rich sources of resveratrol, a type of natural phytochemical that belongs to a much larger group of phytochemicals called polyphenols.
The skin of the grape contains the most resveratrol, and red and purple grapes contain significantly more resveratrol than green grapes. Grape jam and raisins contain much smaller amounts of this phytochemical. Red wine also contains resveratrol. However, with AICR's second expert report noting convincing evidence that alcohol is associated with increased risk for cancers of the mouth, pharynx and larynx, esophagus, breast (pre- and postmenopausal) and colon and rectum (in men), wine is not a recommended source of resveratrol.
Studies suggest that polyphenols in general and resveratrol, in particular, possess potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In laboratory studies, resveratrol prevented the kind of damage known to trigger the cancer process in cell, tissue and animal models.
Foods that fight cancer?
The tomato's red hue comes chiefly from a phytochemical called lycopene. Tomatoes have attracted particular attention from prostate cancer researchers because lycopene and its related compounds tend to concentrate in tissues of the prostate.
This cancer-fighting potential is increased if tomatoes are consumed in a processed form that allows these natural compounds to be released and more easily absorbed, such as tomato sauce, tomato paste or tomato juice.
Lycopene, a powerful antioxidant, together with a group of related compounds collectively called the 'red family,' has displayed anti-cancer potential in a variety of laboratory studies. In the laboratory, tomato components have stopped the proliferation of several other cancer cells types, including breast, lung, and endometrial.
The term 'whole grain' means that all three parts of the grain kernel (germ, bran and endosperm) are included. Refined grains usually have the bran and germ removed, leaving only the starchy endosperm. Brown rice is a whole grain, white rice is not. Other whole-grain foods include wheat breads, rolls, pasta and cereals; whole grain oat cereals such as oatmeal, wild rice, kasha (roasted buckwheat) and tabouleh (bulghur wheat).
Whole grains are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and hundreds of natural plant compounds, called phytochemicals, which protect cells from the types of damage that may lead to cancer.
DARK GREEN LEAFY VEGETABLES
Spinach, romaine lettuce, leaf lettuce are excellent sources of fiber, folate and a wide range of carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin, along with saponins and flavonoids.
Foods containing carotenoids probably protect against cancers of the mouth, pharynx and larynx.
Researchers believe that carotenoids seem to prevent cancer by acting as antioxidants - that is, scouring potentially dangerous 'free radicals' from the body before they can do harm. Some laboratory research has found that the carotenoids in dark green leafy vegetables can inhibit the growth of certain types of breast cancer cells, skin cancer cells, lung cancer and stomach cancer.
Source: American Institute for Cancer Research