The following article was submitted by Lynne Groeger, a registered dietitian specializing in Oncology Nutrition. She works for Peninsula Cancer Institute in Newport News, Williamsburg and Gloucester.
Many plant foods, especially vegetables and fruits, contain naturally occurring substances called phytochemicals that are being identified as potent cancer-fighters. Here are a few standouts:
Brussels sprouts, bok choy, Chinese cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower contain sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinols (I3Cs), two potent anticancer molecules. These molecules help the body detoxify certain carcinogenic substances and can help prevent precancerous cells from developing into malignant tumors. They also promote the suicide of cancer cells and block tumor growth.
How to Prepare Them: Cover and steam briefly or stir-fry rapidly with a little olive oil. Avoid boiling cabbage and broccoli, which destroys their cancer-fighting compounds.
Garlic, Onions, Leeks, Shallots, Chives: The sulfur compounds found in this group (the alliaceous family) promote the death of colon, breast, lung, and prostate cancer cells. Epidemiological studies also suggest a lower risk of kidney and prostate cancer in people who consume the most garlic.
How to Eat Them: The active compounds in garlic are released when you crush the clove, and they're much more easily absorbed if they're combined with a small amount of oil. Sauté chopped garlic and onions in a little olive oil, mix with steamed or stir-fried vegetables, and toss with black pepper and turmeric. They can also be consumed raw, mixed in salads, or layered on sandwiches.
Soy Foods: edamame, soy burgers, tofu: Compounds called isoflavones found in soy (including genistein, daidzein, and glycitein) prevent tumor growth and block the stimulation of cancer cells by sex hormones (such as estrogens and testosterone). Isoflavone supplements (in pill form) have been associated with an aggravation of certain breast cancers, but whole soy, eaten as food, has not.
How to Eat It: Replace conventional milk products with soy milk or soy yogurts for breakfast. Also, use tofu, tempeh, and miso in soups and stir-fries.
Oranges, tangerines, lemons, and grapefruit contain anti-inflammatory compounds called flavonoids that stimulate the detoxification of carcinogens by the liver. Certain flavonoids in the skin of tangerines--tangeritin and nobiletin--can also help promote the death of brain cancer cells.
How to Eat It: Sprinkle grated citrus zest (from organic fruits) into salad dressings or breakfast cereals, or steep in tea or hot water. Eat whole fruits out of hand, toss with other fruits in a salad, or use in a salsa to season grilled fish.
Berries: Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and cranberries contain ellagic acid and a large number of polyphenols, which inhibit tumor growth. Two polyphenols found in berries, anthocyanidins and proanthocyanidins, promote cancer cell death.
How to Eat Them: At breakfast, mix fruit with soy milk and multigrain cereals. (The best cereal options combine oats, bran, flaxseed, rye, barley, spelt, and so on.) Frozen berries are just as potent as fresh.
Excerpted from Anticancer by Dr. David Servan-Schreiber. Groeger highly recommends this book for anyone trying to prevent cancer or for anyone who has been diagnosed. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.