7 superfoods that may lower cancer risk
Broccoli and its cruciferous cousins - cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale and collard greens – have long been linked to a reduced risk of cancer thanks to a molecule in each of these vegetables that turns off a gene that plays a role in a variety of cancers, according to the AICR.
Broccoli – the most consumed cruciferous vegetable in the United States – tends to be the star, if only because it’s the richest source of this cancer-fighting molecule, sulforaphane. Research from a Harvard team also suggests that broccoli and Brussels sprouts have tumor-suppressing abilities. And let’s not forget that this family of vegetables is packed with other nutrients that are beneficial to health.
When researchers at Pennsylvania State University looked at 17 cancer studies published between 1966 and 2020, they found that people who included mushrooms in their daily diet had a lower risk of cancer. The secret ingredient? Ergothionein, a unique and powerful antioxidant that protects cells. It turns out that mushrooms – especially shiitake, oyster mushrooms, maitake, and king oyster mushrooms – contain more ergothionein than any other food.
The study, published in 2021 in Advances in Nutrition, analyzed data from over 19,000 cancer patients and found that those who ate about a quarter cup of mushrooms each day had a 45% lower cancer risk than those who did not eat mushrooms. “Fungi have properties that can help some of our immune cells do their jobs optimally,” says Kennedy. “Our immune system is what helps protect us against cancer. “
Nuts have long been of interest to cancer researchers, and it’s easy to see why. Animal studies suggest that walnuts slow the growth of breast, prostate, colon and kidney cancers, thanks to a number of compounds believed to ward off the disease.
But that doesn’t mean walnuts are the only nuts that play a role in a cancer prevention diet. A review of nine studies found that people who ate an ounce of walnuts per day – that is, about 18 walnut halves, 15 pecan halves, or 24 almonds – had an overall cancer risk of 15% compared to those who did not eat nuts, according to an AICR study. .
“All nuts contain fiber, protein, and healthy fats,” Kennedy notes. But each offers additional nutrients, so there are benefits to mixing things up. For example, “Almonds have vitamin E, walnuts have omega-3s, pistachios have calcium, Brazil nuts have selenium, which is an important antioxidant. You could go on and on. However, it’s important to note that nuts are high in calories, so keep an eye on portion sizes.
This humble bowl of steel cut oatmeal may help boost protection against cancer, including colorectal cancer, studies show. Whole grains like oats are packed with fiber, antioxidants, and phytoestrogens (herbal compounds that have many health benefits, including reduced risk of osteoporosis, heart disease, and breast cancer) , all of which help protect against cancer.
Not a fan of oatmeal? Bulgur, brown rice, barley, corn, quinoa, and whole wheat couscous all have the same anti-cancer properties.