Following good and healthy food habits is crucial for your health. There is a popular saying, “You are what you eat,” – which means if you wish to stay healthy, it is important to be mindful of your eating habits. What you eat could drastically affect many aspects of your health, including the risk of developing chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes and more. In fact, the development of cancer, in particular, has been shown to be heavily influenced by your diet. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 30-40 percent of cancer burden can be attributed to lifestyle risk factors – unhealthy eating, tobacco smoking, alcohol consumption, overweight and obesity, and physical inactivity.
Eating a well-balanced diet comprising food rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants is important. Incorporating healthy lifestyle habits like – staying active by doing regular exercises, and maintaining a healthy body weight can help prevent or lower the risk of developing cancer in the long run. Several studies have shown that a higher intake of certain foods could be associated with a lower risk of cancer.
Let’s take a look at the foods that contain beneficial compounds that could help decrease the growth of cancer –
- Broccoli – Including broccoli with a few meals per week may come with some cancer-fighting benefits. Broccoli contains sulforaphane – a plant compound found in cruciferous vegetables – that may have potent anticancer properties. This could protect the body from stomach cancer, as well as cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx and esophagus.
- Carrots – Rich in beta-carotene, eating carrots is linked to a decreased risk of certain types of cancer, particularly stomach cancer. Try to include carrots in your regular diet either as a healthy snack or a delicious side dish, just a few times per week.
- Berries – Berries are a wonderful source of Vitamin C. High in anthocyanins, plant pigments (that have antioxidant properties), berries can reduce the chances of cancer. Antioxidants are important nutrients in cancer-fighting foods. They help protect the body against free radicals, which can damage and kill cells. In fact, according to the American Cancer Society, people who eat more fruits and vegetables, which are high in antioxidants, have a lower risk of some cancers. Berries can be consumed either fresh or frozen or dried.
- Grapes – These are a rich source of the antioxidant resveratrol. Studies show that resveratrol has the potential to possibly stop cancer from occurring in the breast, liver, stomach and lymphatic system. As the grape’s skin has the most resveratrol, consuming these fruits can also leave the skin intact. When compared to green grapes, red and purple grapes have significantly more resveratrol.
- Tomatoes – Tomatoes are red in color due to a compound called “lycopene” – that has cancer-preventive properties that have been proven effective against prostate cancer. Tomatoes can be easily included in your diet each day by adding them to sandwiches, salads, sauces or pasta dishes.
- Cinnamon – Having a plethora of health benefits, cinnamon can help reduce the spread of cancer cells in your body. Including 1/2–1 teaspoon (2–4 grams) of cinnamon in your diet per day may be beneficial in cancer prevention. It is also associated with other benefits like reduced blood sugar and decreased inflammation.
Maintaining a balanced and healthy diet is important to keep cancer and other diseases at bay. An overall healthy dietary pattern has the potential to lower cancer risk by 10-20 percent. Including the above-mentioned food items can have proven benefits against the risk of cancer. However, they should not be used as a guarantee to continue other unhealthy habits like smoking and liquor consumption. It is equally important to get rid of smoking and drinking habits to protect yourself from cancer risk.