What IS a Superfood? A Superfood is the newest name scientists, nutritionists, and doctors have tagged onto foods with an especially “good for you” reputation! Most superfoods are in the fruits, vegetables, and nuts/seeds categories. They have extremely high nutritional values, and some of their chemicals have been found to reduce the effect of certain disease processes.
Do Superfoods really help prevent cancer? It gives me great pleasure tell you that many superfoods do indeed prevent cancer.
Here is a list of some of the top superfoods and how they affect cancer in humans:
- Berries and red grapes – We're talking almost any berry that is red or blue. Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, acai berries, gogi berries...they contain phytochemicals that destroy cancer cells both in culture form and in the liver.
- Green Tea – The catechins (EGCG) in green tea have anti-cancer properties that prevent and reduce breast and other cancers.
- Flaxseed – Contains lignins that have cancer-fighting properties.
- Garlic, Onions, Leeks – Just about any part of the allium family has been shown to reduce various types of cancers including stomach and colorectal cancer, prostate and breast cancers, as well as a number of other common cancers.
- Broccoli, Broccoli Sprouts, Cruciferous vegetables – Men who eat broccoli 4 times a week have proven that their prostate cancer diminishes. Similar effects have been found when cabbage, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts are eaten. Of note, broccoli sprouts have been shown to demonstrate 20 times the cancer fighting properties of plain broccoli!
- Tomatoes – Lycopene is the key ingredient in tomatoes and its benefits are even greater when tomatoes are cooked, so pasta sauces, pizza sauces, etc. are especially good. Studies have identified progress in the areas of prostate, breast, lung, and colon cancer. The FDA is currently disputing these studies (all 72 of them), but most experts believe that the FDA's study is flawed.
- Resveratrol found in red wine – Let's hear it for red wine. Resveratrol has been shown to have very powerful cancer-fighting properties which suppresses the abnormal cell growth that leads to many kinds of breast cancer. Resveratrol acts to block the action of estrogen, which is largely responsible for breast cancer. Early studies in lab mice show similar results in prostate cancer. One glass a day should do it.
- Watercress, Spinach, Kale – Watercress consumption protects against the kind of DNA damage that leads to tumor formation. Chlorophyllin in spinach and kale has been proven to reduce the risk of liver cancer.
- Tumeric – This yellow spice found mainly in Indian curries is curcumin that is considered to be a very powerful antioxidant. It has been proven to prevent and slow tumor growth, and it only takes about 1 teaspoon a day to have an effect. Try adding this to dressings, soups, and your main dishes. A word of warning, if you already have cancer, talk to your doctor before adding tumeric to your diet as it can make your anti-cancer drugs less effective.
Why can't I just take supplements?
Sorry, but you're going to have to add these foods to your diet. While many of the phytonutrients and chemicals that have been identified in superfoods have been extracted and put into supplement form, scientists are finding that they don't always work quite the same way.
There are numerous reasons for this, but the biggest reason is that while we have identified some of the substances contained in these foods, there are literally thousands of other substances we know exist inside of these foods that have yet to be identified. It is hard to say if we've identified exactly the right components, or if the various components work in a synergistic fashion. In other words, the chemicals work better when they are together. Therefore, if we don't know what they are yet, we can't combine them in a supplement.
One more word of caution: you cannot eat a diet that consists primarily of processed and fast food and expect a cup of berries or green tea to counteract any problems. You must eat a diet of rainbow colored fruits and vegetables on a regular basis for them to have the maximum effect. Mom's right. Eat your vegetables!