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January 18, 2022
Judith Hurley (Medically Reviewed)

10 Foods That Fight Cancer


Many people are interested in whether nutrition choices can help prevent cancer or slow its progress. Eating a wide variety of plant foods is a good start.

Many people are interested in whether nutrition choices can help prevent cancer or slow its progress. Eating a wide variety of plant foods is a good start. Fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans contain hundreds of health-promoting phytochemicals that you can’t get from a dietary supplement. Here are some of the best cancer-fighting foods to put on your plate.

 

1. Broccoli

Broccoli contains isothiocyanate and indole compounds, which block cancer-causing substances and slow tumor growth. Other cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower, cabbage, kale, and collard greens, contain these same compounds.

2. Cranberries

With their tart flavor and deep red color, cranberries add both visual punch and good health to the menu. They’re a source of anthocyanins and flavonols, substances that may boost the immune response and help cells detoxify harmful substances.

3. Dark Green Leafy Vegetables

Spinach, chard, kale, collard greens, romaine lettuce, and other dark green leafy vegetables are standout sources of several cancer-fighting substances, including carotenoids. In lab studies, these antioxidant compounds stop cancer cells from growing.

4. Garlic

Vegetables in the allium family include garlic, onions, scallions, chives, and leeks. Their cancer-fighting abilities come courtesy of several pungent sulfur-based compounds as well as the antioxidant quercetin. Garlic and other allium-family foods may protect against stomach and colorectal cancer.

5. Grapes

Resveratrol is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound found in grapes, especially red and purple ones, where it’s most concentrated in the skin. In animal studies, resveratrol has been shown to prevent cancer and slow the growth of cancer cells.

6. Green Tea

This mild, grassy-tasting brew contains catechins, antioxidants with anticancer properties. In fact, green tea contains three times more catechins than black tea. Drinking green tea regularly has been associated with lower risk for cancers of the bladder and digestive tract.

7. Soy

Whether you consume tofu, miso, tempeh, edamame, or soy milk, you’re getting the health benefits of soybeans. Soy foods are rich in estrogen-like isoflavones such as genistein and daidzein. Studies suggest that soy foods protect against hormone-related cancers, including those of the breast, prostate, and endometrium.

8. Winter Squash

The deep orange flesh of acorn, butternut, pumpkin, and other winter squashes is a clue that they’re rich in beta-carotene and other carotenoid pigments. In addition to being an antioxidant, beta-carotene is transformed into vitamin A, a nutrient that also may help prevent cancer.

9. Tomatoes

Tomatoes get their red color from lycopene, a strong antioxidant. Some research indicates lycopene may protect against prostate and other cancers. Processed tomato products, such as tomato paste and tomato juice, are the most concentrated sources of lycopene.

10. Whole Grains

Hundreds of compounds in whole grains have health-promoting properties. For instance, the fiber in whole grains may help prevent colorectal cancer. Their saponins and phenols may lower the risk for colon and breast cancer. These dietary choices offer the best protection when combined with regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, a smoke-free lifestyle, and participating in recommended cancer screenings.