It should be no surprise that the substances we put in our bodies can affect our health. Thus, while certain kinds of foods can increase one's risk for a variety of disease, food can also help prevent diseases, like cancer. When eaten raw, each of the following foods contains nutrients that can be effective against different kinds of cancer. Thus, these top five foods that prevent cancer are listed in no particular order.
Dark Green-Leafy Vegetables
Fiber, folate and carotenoids, found in leafy-green vegetables, are nutrients that can prevent against certain cancers. Fiber can help protect against colorectal cancer. Folate and especially carotenoids help prevent cancers of the mouth and larynx. Because some carotenoids are also antioxidants, they can inhibit the growth of other types of cancer cells as well, particularly breast cancer, skin cancer, lung cancer and stomach cancer. Several dark green-leafy vegetables contain these nutrients, most notably spinach, kale, collard greens and Swiss chard.
Several nutrients in berries prevent cancer in a variety of ways. Vitamin C, abundant in most berries, protects against cancer of the esophagus. Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries, in particular, contain potent phytochemicals that work to prevent cancer. In raspberries, it is ellagic acid that prevents skin, bladder, lung and other cancers by working as both an antioxidant and a neutralizer of some carcinogenic substances. Blueberries contain anthocyanocides, which are among the most potent antioxidants known. Extracts from the acai berry, a Brazilian fruit rich in antioxidants, actually destroyed leukemia cells in a 2006 study.
Cruciferous vegetables are broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy and kale. These foods prevent cancers of the digestive track, from the mouth to the stomach and colon. Cruciferous vegetables contain glucosinolates, crambene, indole-3-carbinol and isothiocyanates. These nutrients are essential regulators of the natural enzyme system that protects the body against these types of cancers.
Garlic is one of the most potent anti-cancer foods, and studies indicate that the more garlic is consumed the greater the anti-cancer effect. When minced and eaten raw, garlic provides a number of cancer-fighting nutrients, including allicin, allixin, allyl sulfides, quercetin and organosulfur compounds. Studies show that these nutrients gained from eating garlic can slow or stop the growth of prostate, bladder and colon tumors. Another garlic component, diallyl disulfide, is believed to prevent skin, colon and lung cancer and has killed leukemia cells in laboratory tests.
Beans and other legumes have well-established anti-cancer benefits.They contain saponins, protease inhibitors and phytic acid, which protect cells from weakness that can lead to cancer and inhibit the growth and division of cancer cells. Raw, ground flax seed is the best source of lignans, a group of plant estrogens called phytoestrogens. Some studies suggest lignans can have anti-cancer benefits. Flax is also rich in a particular omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid or ALA. Lab studies show ALA can inhibit the formation of colon, breast, skin and lung tumors.