The connection between cancer and diet is an ongoing area of research. Could eating certain types of food and avoiding others reduce the risk of developing this disease? Everyone knows certain foods are healthier than others but experts suggest some foods could help lower the likelihood of developing these life-threatening conditions.
People who eat spinach may not really develop the strength of the green-loving sailor, Popeye, but substantial evidence shows this leafy green from Persia could improve the body's ability to resist the proliferation of cancer-causing cells. American researchers discovered that this vegetable contains high quantities of chlorophyllin, the chemical that gives spinach its distinctive, dark green color and may help reduce the risk of liver cancer.
Turmeric, made from ground and dried root, is a popular spice in Middle Eastern cooking, and in the last few decades, it has been studied for its many potential health benefits. Researchers are very interested in curcumin, one component of turmeric. The compound has prevented or slowed the growth of cancer in lab animals. Turmeric is also rich in antioxidants that can help impede the development of tumors by protecting cells against damage from free radicals.
Some research suggests tomatoes could also help reduce cancer risks. One Harvard University researcher claims that the chemical lycopene, found in tomatoes, lowers the risk of contracting a range of cancers. The FDA contested these findings, but other experts support them. There is no direct evidence yet; research is ongoing. Even if this is not one of the benefits of eating tomatoes, the rosy fruit is high in vitamins C and K and could lower the risk of heart disease, as well.
Cancer affects the Scandinavian countries and the United Kingdom more than Mediterranean countries, which has prompted researchers to investigate the degree to which dietary differences contribute to this disparity. Some experts believe the popularity of onions and leeks in Southern European and Mediterranean cooking could be a factor and that eating more of this potent produce could help reduce cancer risk. Though no studies conclusively prove this correlation, the veggies do have many confirmed benefits and may help reduce inflammation and preventing blood clots.
Some studies indicate garlic could play a role in improving resistance to cancer. Research by the National Cancer Institute and several other respected organizations support claims that consuming garlic strengthens protection against some types of cancer, including stomach, esophagus, pancreas, colon, and breast cancer. Allicin and allyl sulfur compounds appear to be responsible for these preventative qualities. Raw garlic is the best way to get the most out of these benefits, but tasteless capsules are also available.
A popular salad fixing in the UK, watercress is seen less in North American dishes. Natural health experts recognize this significant source of antioxidants. Recently, a team of Irish researchers undertook a study that indicated a substance in the aquatic plant could help prevent DNA damage. The topic needs further investigation, but there's no harm in adding watercress to salads and other dishes in the meantime.
Natural health enthusiasts are keen to praise the benefits of green tea, and the ground or powdered tea leaves have undergone considerable research. Many studies indicate the phenolic compounds in green tea can help fend off certain kinds of cancer in animals, though human studies have been inconclusive. Some experts recommend drinking a couple of cups each day to benefit from these protective qualities. Some people may experience side effects from drinking too much green tea, however, including those with low iron and bleeding disorders.
Many people enjoy the flavor of salmon, but it has a lot more to offer. Medical research suggests people who regularly eat salmon and other kinds of fish improve their protection against several types of cancer, thanks in part to the protein-rich food's anti-inflammatory effects. A 2012 study by the University of Oxford and the International Agency for Research on Cancer showed that eating fish can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by up to 12%.
In the old days, when public water supplies were polluted, it was considered healthier to drink beer than water. Of course, today we know the dangers of consuming too much alcohol in any more, but it is possible that drinking the odd frosty mug of beer could help reduce the risk of stomach cancer — acids in hops, humulones and lupulones, are the potentially beneficial compounds. This should be seen as a side benefit of infrequent indulgence, though, not an invitation to daily happy hours.
Brazil nuts contain high amounts of the mineral selenium. Studies at Cornell University and the University of Arizona suggest that people with healthy levels of selenium in their blood are less likely to develop cancer. If you're allergic to nuts, you can still increase your selenium stores by consuming foods like fish, pork, and cottage cheese. Many other foods are enriched with the mineral.
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