Did you know that your diet and your food choices can have an effect on the risk of you developing cancer? Research suggests that you can change about 70% of your lifetime risk of developing cancer by making simple changes to your lifestyle, such as avoiding cigarettes, limiting your alcohol intake, maintaining a healthy body weight and by making some basic dietary changes. If you’re thinking of super-food trends and rare root vegetables now, think again. The risk of cancer can be lowered by simple, every-day foods, some of which you’re probably consuming on a daily basis. Take a look at these 5 foods that fend off cancer:
These little food-ninjas aren’t only a deliciously healthy snack between meals, but also a true cancer warrior. Brazil nuts are rich in selenium, a trace mineral which combats cancer cells; the chemical reaction between selenium and the cancer cell practically forces the cancer cell to commit suicide. A five-year study conducted by Cornell University and the University of Arizona showed that a daily consumption of 200 micrograms of selenium (that’s only two unshelled Brazil nuts per day) resulted in 63% fewer prostrate tumours and in a 39% decrease in overall cancer deaths.
So how can Brazil nuts form a part of your diet? Other than the obvious snack factor, you could also incorporate them in salads, your morning cereal or, if you’re a sweet tooth, you could create tantalizing desserts with Brazil nuts.
Another warrior in the fight against prostate cancer is none other than the humble onion. Eating a lot of raw or lightly cooked onion may well result in the odd waft of strong-smelling breath, but it also reduces the risk of prostate cancer by 50%. As with all fruits and vegetables, their mineral and vitamin percentages are at their highest in an uncooked state. Onions are rich in anti-cancer compounds such as quercetin, anthocyannis and organosulfur compounds, which make them a sheer bundle of anti-cancer power.
Onions can be incorporated into your diet quite easily. Simply peel and chop yellow onions, red onions, spring onions, shallots or chives, sprinkle them over salads, soups and pasta dishes, add them to sandwiches for some tangy crunch or create a salsa as an accompaniment to your meals.
The old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” has never rung truer. German research has shown that when the natural apple fibre ferments in the colon, it produces chemicals which combat the formation of cancer cells. In addition to fighting colon cancer, apples also contain an antioxidant called flavonoid. This antioxidant triggers a series of signals inside the cancer cells that causes them to self-destruct. It’s important to note that these flavonoids are primarily located in the skin of apples, so don’t peel your apples before eating them!
Other than picking up an apple and munching on it, how would you integrate an apple a day into your diet? Fruit salads are a healthy and easy way to ensure you get your apple a day, but you could also make a savoury salad with apples, such as the infamous Waldorf salad. Pureeing your apples or mixing them in with a home-made fruit smoothie are also a great way to enjoy raw apples.
This has got to be the tastiest of all cancer-combatting foods! Wild-caught, fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines as well as shrimp and scallops are high in anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acids. A lengthy Australian study has shown that people who substitute red meats for wild-caught fish and consumed at least four servings of fish per week were 33% less likely to develop cancer, in particular blood cancers such as myeloma, leukaemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
And if fish is your nightmare? Omega-3 can be snuck into your diet in other ways too: flax seeds, chia seeds and walnuts are as high in Omega-3 fatty acids as fish. So if fish isn’t your thing, try adding walnuts and seeds to your cereals, smoothies or supplement one of your snacks with a healthy trail mix containing nuts and seeds.
LEAFY GREEN VEGGIES
There’s got to be a reason why leafy greens are a firm part of most people’s diet. The health benefits of spinach, kale, lettuce, watercress and co. are boundless. Not only are they low in calories, fats, sodium and toxins, they’re rich in anti-oxidants such as vitamin C and beta-carotene, both of which are known for the cancer-combatting properties. In addition to this, leafy greens also contain carcinogens, which help cancer cells to shut down, thus preventing the formation of tumours and metastasis.
All the above-mentioned foods can easily be integrated into a daily diet, without causing too much of a shift in lifestyle. The next time you go grocery shopping, remember to pick up some of these cancer-warriors. Even though there might not be a magical cancer-combatting formula, a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet can protect the body against cancer and leads to the destruction of cancer cells.
Profmed is a restricted medical aid scheme that is open to professionals who have obtained a postgraduate qualification. Profmed offers these individuals exclusive yet affordable medical cover. The company’s vision is to address the healthcare needs of professionals through appropriate and comprehensive benefit design. For more information, please visit www.profmed.co.za or follow Profmed on Facebook.