Brightly-colored fruits and veggies
Antioxidants protect our bodies’ cells from free radicals that may lead to cancer. Free radicals are byproducts of: pollutants in the environment, too much sun exposure, tobacco smoke, alcohol, processed foods, and even exercise, particularly chronic overexercise. Antioxidants are chemicals that give fruits, veggies, herbs, and other plant-based foods their color, so the richer the pigment, the greater concentration of antioxidants.
Phytochemicals are naturally-occurring substances that are found in small amounts in fruits, veggies, herbs, legumes and some grains. Like antioxidants, phytochemicals are powerful in preventing cancer growth at the cellular level! For example, curcumin is the bright yellow polyphenol compound found in turmeric that has been shown to prevent the progression of breast cancer.
Other “nutrient powerhouses” found in garlic and cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, brussels sprouts), are known to activate tumor suppressor genes. These veggies, however, can cause flatulence, thanks to a particular type of carbohydrate molecule (oligosaccharides), but steaming these gaseous veggies over water will naturally improve digestion of these foods since oligosaccharides are water-soluble and will leech into the water.
Quality oil from cold-water, fatty fish (salmon, sardines, rainbow trout, anchovies, cod liver oil) is potent in EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids, which actively decrease inflammation by combating free radicals that damage cells and can lead to cancer formation.
Also, swapping expeller-pressed cooking oils (canola, corn, peanut, soybean, sunflower, safflower oils) for cold-pressed, extra virgin olive and avocado oils will increase antioxidant intake. Just be careful to avoid heating these fragile oils to very high temperatures, so they maintain their molecular integrity to maximize health benefits!
Tempest, M. (2011, May). Antioxidants – Research Continues to Reveal Their Health-Promoting Effects. Today’s Dietitian, 13(5), 32.
Kim SR, Park HJ, Bae YH, et al. Curcumin down-regulates visfatin expression and inhibits breast cancer cell invasion. Endocrinology. 2012;153(2):554-563.
Shanmugam MK, Rane G, Kanchi MM, Arfuso F, Chinnathambi A, Zayed ME, Alharbi SA, Tan BK, Kumar AP, Sethi G. The multifaceted role of curcumin in cancer prevention and treatment. Molecules. 2015 Feb 5;20(2):2728-69.
Thalheimer, J. (2015, February). Heart-Healthy Oils: They’re Not All Created Equal. Today’s Dietitian, 17(2), 24-27.