Whether you are into the slow food movement or interested in filling your plate ASAP, cancer prevention starts at meal time. Taking the time to pack a healthy lunch or grab a smart snack really can affect how you feel all day long and over the course of a year can impact your well-being. Instead of worrying about what you shouldn’t eat, lets talk about the yummy things you should pile on your plate. The following guilt-free options have scientific evidence backing their benefits and their delicious taste will keep you coming back for seconds.
Colleen Doyle, M.S., R.D., Director of Nutrition and Physical Activity for the American Cancer Society, says, “Though there’s no one food that will reduce your risk of this disease, it’s the synergy between many nutrients – vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants – that’s likely to give you the most protection.” So try to indulge in a rainbow of foods each day. And if you make sure your fridge always has these key items in stock, you not only are on your way to a bangin body but a long healthy life. So what are these superfoods?
1. Bomb A$$ Berries!
Raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries are loaded with antioxidants, fiber, anthocyanins, vitamins (c, e & k) and a ton of other phytonutrients. Antioxidants are key because they help rid the body of free radicals and help cells repair themselves, possibly reducing the risk of cancer. These berries also contain ellagic acid, a natural anti-carcinogen, and strong cancer fighting compound. Boo-yah!
2. Bunches of Grapes
Studies, according to American Institute for Cancer Research show that grapes may keep cancer cells from growing and inhibit tumors. In the skin of grapes there is a plant chemical called Resveratrol. You might have heard that word thrown around before because red wine contains this, but the best way to get nutrients is not by drinking. Duh! Drinking alcohol has been linked to higher cancer risk. Instead, eat the real deal! Grab the purple or red ones for the most health benefits and anti inflammatory effects. Freeze grapes & pop them in your water or add them to salads. Speaking of salads, that brings me to our next super food…
3. Mean Dark Greens
When did Kale become so cool? Kale gets massages? I love it! Kale is loaded with a high concentration of anti-cancer nutrients like vitamins C, K, A, electrolytes, and beta-carotene and is much better when someone other than myself prepares it. Steamed has the most nutrients but sautéing can transform its harsh flavor. If all else fails and Kale grosses you out, try Arugula! Extremely low in calories you can throw a handful on your pizza or in your soup. Studies suggest that arugula specifically may help lower the risk of several types of cancer because of its Isothiocyanates that are known to neutralize carcinogens and stops cancer cells from multiplying. So don’t be afraid when you see these greens on a menu, you just might like them.
4. Sweetest Potato
Sweet potatoes, just might be the oldest veggie there is, have mega anti-cancer effects with high levels of potassium, fiber, and vitamins A and C. The orange, pinkish and yellow sweet potatoes are loaded with beta-carotene. Sweet potatoes are low in pesticides residue so no need to spend extra moola on organic. Try this Rice Cooker recipe, found HERE, featuring my favorite potato.
Sine what we eat literally becomes our body, it is worth taking the time to select nutrient rich items. And I have one that might be a surprise…
5. Dark Chocolate
A little bit of dark chocolate can actually help reduce the risk of cancer. According to studies, cacao powder (cacao bean is the base of all chocolate products) contains up to three times the amount of antioxidant flavonoids found in green tea. Be sure not to have your dark chocolate treat with milk because milk appears to interfere with the absorption of antioxidants. Catechins might be key to prevention and are present in berries, grapes, green tea and cocoa (the raw material in chocolate). So go ahead and enjoy a treat now and again.
Just keep in mind that studies show that what we eat (diet & nutrients absorbed) can impact one’s chances of getting cancer and also a recurrence of cancer. Choose foods like the ones above that have a ton of health benefits instead of some dumb snack that will make you feel like crap later. If you can swap an unhealthy bag of chips or cookie for one of the superfoods above, this small change can have lasting benefits and ultimately cancer incidence could potentially be reduced by 35% through improved diet quality. For some additional eating tips check out this past blog.
With love (and a dash of cinnamon),