Dr. Oz wants you to take the promise of food as medicine seriously. Solid research backs up the fact that nutrient-dense foods, especially fresh fruits and vegetables, help slow the growth of some cancers and can also prevent their onset at the beginning. Plus, eating right is one of the easiest, least expensive ways you can stay healthy overall. Next time you’re headed to the grocery store, stock up on these four cancer-fighting superfoods.
Members of the cruciferous family, which also includes broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts, collards help detoxify the body. They also work to help starve cancer cells by cutting off the blood supply that tumors need to grow. Collards are also an excellent source of vitamins K, A and C and also fight inflammation, which is often linked to chronic disease.
Cruciferous vegetables such as collards have been shown to help protect women against ovarian cancer and increase the survival rate in women diagnosed with this silent killer. Researchers believe that the cancer-fighting protection of crucifers is tied to compounds called isothiacyanates that help the body to eliminate key carcinogens tied not only to ovarian but also breast and other cancers.
To unlock the cancer-fighting power of collards and other crucifers, clean and slice them about 5-10 minutes cooking. By tearing the leaves of the collards first, you’ll release their cancer-fighting enzymes. Steam or microwave rather than boil these veggies to also help retain the compounds that ward off cancer.
At least twice a week, enjoy a cup of cooked collards, which adds up to only 50 calories. In addition, eat other cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, at least once a day.
White beans (cannellini, kidney and navy) are loaded with even more cancer-fighting dietary fiber than healthy red beans. By eating these fiber-rich superfoods, you can reduce the risk of many cancers and other potential killers, including brain aneurysms. These legumes are also loaded with flavonoids and other phytochemical that slow cancer cell growth and decrease chronic inflammation.
By cooking white beans or other legumes, you increase their resistant starch levels, which act similar to fiber by helping the colon eliminate damaged cells that could lead to cancer. In one study, increasing fiber intake by 10g per day helped reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by 10%.
Eat one-half cup of white beans (20% of your daily fiber requirement) at least twice a week.
San Marzano Tomatoes
Grown in the nutrient-rich volcanic soil found in the Campania region of southern Italy, San Marzano tomatoes are viewed as superior not only for their intense flavor but also for their cancer-fighting properties. San Marzano tomatoes are bright red and high in density and pectin. They have less acidity than typical tomatoes and thinner skins, which makes them tastier and easier to eat.
In general, tomatoes pack a one to two times the punch against cancer because they contain both lycopene and cancer-fighting vitamin C. When cooked, these tomatoes release up to 150% of their bioavailable lycopene, the powerhouse antioxidant credited with helping prevent cancers such as prostate and cervical cancers. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. Several recent studies report significant reductions in prostate cancer risk in those men who consume a lot of lycopene or tomato-based products.
To fight cancer with San Marzano tomatoes, available in the canned tomato section of most grocery stores, use them when making pasta or pizza sauce. Or, simply slice them and serve as a side dish with a little basil, olive oil and vinegar. Eat three times a week.
A recent study found that women who drank at least 4 cups of caffeinated coffee had a 25% lower risk of developing uterine cancer compared to those who drank less than 1 cup of coffee a day. Plus, this pick-me-up has been shown to can reduce the risk of a host of cancers including breast, uterine, kidney, liver, colon and prostate.
You don’t need to buy European or fancy roasts to fight cancer. In fact, drinking lighter roasts such as American roasted beans is superior because they contain more cancer-fighting antioxidants and caffeic acid, shown to suppress certain cells.
By drinking just 1 cup of regular coffee per day, you can reduce your risk of all cancers by 3%. To get the full benefit of coffee’s cancer-fighting properties, drink 3 cups a day, unless you find this amount too stimulating.