Foods That Keep Cancer at Bay
We all know that family history and the environment play a role in each person’s cancer risk, however, there are also a number of risk factors within our control. Limiting alcohol, avoiding cigarettes, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet can all help. Paired with a healthy lifestyle, consider the foods below an additional shield against the big C.
Men who eat more than 10 servings of tomatoes each week have an 18 percent lower risk of developing prostate cancer, according to a Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention study. It’s all thanks to the fruit’s high levels of lycopene, an antioxidant that fights off toxins that can cause DNA and cell damage. An added bonus: Tomatoes have been shown to improve sperm morphology (shape). Men with the highest tomato intake contributed to between 8 and 10 percent more “normal” sperm.
“Atlantic” or “Boston” Mackerel
You likely already knew that the omega-3s and vitamin D in mackerel, herring, and wild salmon were good for your heart, but did you know they could also help ward off the big “C?” One 12-year Harvard study of nearly 48,000 men found that those who consume these types of fatty fish more than three times a week are 40 percent less likely to develop advanced prostate cancer than those who consume the stuff just twice a month. The study authors credit the fish’s high omega-3s and vitamin D content for their protective properties.
Reduce your intake of processed meats like cold cuts, bacon, and sausage, which have all been linked to an increased risk of cancer, and add more fatty fish to your diets throughout the week to ensure a steady supply of the protective nutrients. If you’re at a Japanese restaurant order the Saba Roll (it’s made with mackerel), and if you find yourself at an American restaurant look for herring or wild salmon dishes on the menu.
Berries—such as cranberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries—contain powerful tumor-blocking compounds (like phenolic acids, glycosides, and anthocyanins) and antioxidants (like ellagic acid) that can slow the reproduction of cancer cells and stop free radicals from damaging cells. Consuming the fruit is especially effective at warding off colon, prostate, and esophageal cancers, studies have found. Add fresh or frozen berries to your fruit salad, pancakes, or smoothies to reap the benefits.
According to a 2015 Food Chemistry study, the antioxidants found in white tea not only help protect healthy cells against potentially carcinogenic oxidative damage, but they can inhibit the reproduction of existing colon cancer cells.
Love oranges, lemons, and grapefruits? Great! Keep eating them—just don’t throw out the peels. Why? They contain a powerful compound that boosts the body’s production of detoxifying enzymes. In fact, consuming zest regularly can help reduce the risk of squamous-cell skin cancer by 30 percent and shrink existing tumors, say University of Arizona researchers.
Rich in disease-fighting chemicals and nutrients that block larynx, mouth, lung, breast, skin, and stomach cancer cells, spinach, kale, mustard greens, Swiss chard and romaine lettuce are all great greens to add your diet. Although each of these veggies deserves a place on your plate, spinach should definitely be your go-to if you have to pick just one—especially if you’re a fan of red meat.
Why? Popeye’s go-to green contains compounds that can actually block the carcinogenic organic compound PhIP, which is abundant in cooked red meat, say Oregon State University researchers. To reap the benefits, sauté spinach, mustard greens or Swiss chard with olive oil, onions, and garlic for a quick and simple side dish.
Sweet Red Peppers
Lycopene, a phytonutrient that gives fruits and veggies their red hue, has been shown to help lower the risk of developing prostate cancer. To reap the benefits add veggies like tomatoes and sweet reap peppers to your diet a few times a week. Lycopene from food cooked with a little fat is better absorbed into the body than raw foods eaten without fat. Tomatoes cooked in olive oil, for example, release more lycopene into the body than do raw tomatoes.
Looking for another excuse to sneak some more cauliflower rice into your diet? The white veggie is filled with a compound called indole-3-carbinol, which has been shown to repair your DNA and thwart cancer. For delicious ways to add more or the stuff to your diet, check out these cauliflower recipes.
This popular root vegetable (commonly found in smoothies and Asian-style dishes) is packed with gingerol, a powerful cancer suppressing compound. Scientific minds say it’s particularly effective at warding off colon cancer.
For men with colon cancer, low-glycemic carbs may just be a life-saver—literally. In one study seven-year study published in The Journal of the National Cancer Institute, patients who consumed the most carbs with high glycemic loads had an 80 percent greater chance of dying or having a recurrence of disease than those who consumed the least amounts.
Dr. Jeffrey A. Meyerhardt, the lead author of the study, suggests avoiding things like juices and sodas, which have a higher glycemic load than things like detox water and fresh vegetable juice. Swap fruits like a date or raisins, which have very high glycemic loads, for things like apple, orange or cantaloupe. “Substitute brown rice for white, whole grains instead of white bread, and instead of having a starchy potato as your side dish, substitute beans, and vegetables,” he adds.
The Best Food for Your Better Body Goals
Trying to lose weight? Want to pack on more lean muscle mass? We’ve got you covered. Not only will the foods below help you trim down, they’ll help ward off obesity-related diseases like metabolic syndrome and diabetes, too!
Just one egg contains about 15 percent of the day’s riboflavin. It’s just one of eight B vitamins, which all help the body to convert food into fuel, which in turn is used to produce energy. Another reason we love this protein? They’ve been shown to aid fat loss.
In one eight-week study, people ate a breakfast of either eggs or bagels, which contained the same amount of calories. The egg group lost 65 percent more body weight, 16 percent more body fat, experienced a 61 percent greater reduction in BMI and saw a 34 percent greater reduction in waist circumference! For even more health benefits of eggs, check out these benefits of eggs.
If you’re go-to source of protein is beef, be sure to pick up the grass-fed variety. Why? Grass-fed beef has the holy trifecta of muscle building: It’s the #1 food source of creatine, which increases muscle mass by speeding protein to muscles; it’s rich in CLA, an anti-inflammatory fatty acid; and it provides more than one-half the recommended daily intake of protein in a four-ounce serving. An added bonus: It’s naturally leaner and has fewer calories than conventional meat: A lean seven-ounce conventional strip steak has 386 calories and 16 grams of fat. But a seven-ounce grass-fed strip steak has only 234 calories and five grams of fat.
A particularly grueling workout can feel like a round in the boxing ring against a heavyweight champ, but quinoa is your ropes. Rely on this complete protein to help you rebound faster and come back stronger thanks to its slow-burning complex carbs, notable protein content and rich levels of lysine, an amino acid that aids tissue and muscle repair. What’s more, quinoa is a rich source of minerals including magnesium, which helps relax the blood vessels and improve blood circulation to your muscles. All that adds up to a noticeably more defined, stronger you. To keep your taste buds interested, use the grain as a salad topper, mix it with oatmeal, add it to an omelet.
Drinking a combination of carbohydrates and protein after a hard workout can help restore your energy and aid in building lean, metabolism-boosting muscle, but it turns out that you don’t need a fancy recovery beverage to reap these benefits. After participating in a vigorous cycling session, cyclists who drank chocolate milk were able to ride 51 percent longer in a subsequent workout than those who drank a standard recovery beverage, an article in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism found. Plus, chocolate milk is cheaper (and tastier) than anything you’ll find in a sports nutrition store.
Think of each almond as a natural weight-loss pill. A study of overweight and obese adults found that combined with a calorie-restricted diet, consuming a little more than a quarter cup of the nuts can decrease weight more effectively than a snack comprised of complex carbohydrates and safflower oil—after just two weeks! (And after 24 weeks, those who ate the nuts experienced a 62 percent greater reduction in weight and BMI!)
For optimal results, eat your daily serving before you hit the gym. A study printed in The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that almonds, rich in the amino acid L-arginine, can actually help you burn more fat and carbs during workouts. For even more ways to scorch those extra calories, check out these ways to boost your metabolism!
Like a marathoner stretching before the big run, eating half a grapefruit before a meal can enhance your body’s fat-burning performance. A study published in the journal Metabolism found that this “warm-up” tactic can help whittle your middle—by up to an inch—in just six weeks!
The scientists attribute the powerful effects to the grapefruits’ fat-zapping phytochemicals. The fruit can interact negatively with certain medications, so as long as you get the green-light from your M.D, plan to have half of a grapefruit before your morning meal and add a few segments your starter salads to reap the benefits. For even more ways to eat yourself lean, check out these healthy breakfast ideas.
A longtime enemy of doctors and dieters, pork has been coming around as a healthier alternative of late—as long as you choose the right cut. Your best bet is pork tenderloin: A University of Wisconsin Study found that a three-ounce serving of pork tenderloin has slightly less fat than a skinless chicken breast.
It has 24 grams of protein per serving and 83 milligrams of waist-whittling choline (in the latter case, about the same as a medium egg). In a study published in the journal Nutrients, scientists asked 144 overweight people to eat a diet rich in fresh lean pork. After three months, the group saw a significant reduction in waist size, BMI and belly fat, with no reduction in muscle mass! They speculate that the amino acid profile of pork protein may contribute to greater fat burning.
Millet may be the main ingredient in birdseed, but this lesser-known health food shouldn’t be limited to Mr. Bluebird on your shoulder. Although technically a seed, millet should be treated as a grain. It helps enhance blood flow to your muscles thanks to its rich magnesium content, allowing them to develop and take on a more jacked look.
Even better, this seed has the power to strengthen your body and give your muscles long-lasting fuel because it’s a great source of plant-based protein and complex carbohydrates. Interested in trying it out? Great! We suggest using it just as you would quinoa—in salads, sides and breakfast bowls.
They may be tiny, but chia seeds have massive health benefits and plenty of muscle-chiseling power. Their greatest strength as a better-body ally comes from the one-two punch they deliver of omega-3 fatty acids and fiber. Healthy omega-3s work to reduce inflammation and help strengthen and grow your muscles through the process of protein synthesis, while fiber supplies you with steady, long-burning energy. In fact, just two tablespoons of the seeds contain 11 grams of gut-filling fiber. Add the stuff to oats, smoothies, and salad dressings to reap the benefits.
Cottage cheese’s muscle-building powers come from two different components: casein (the slow-digesting dairy protein) and live cultures. When you eat casein, your blood amino acid levels rise slowly and stay elevated for longer than if you would have eaten whey. The live cultures will help you break down and absorb all the nutrients you need to get bigger and stronger. Eat the stuff plain, toss it with some chopped nuts and berries, or mix it with some eggs and chopped veggies for an extra protein-packed frittata. For even more foods that will fuel your muscles, check out these muscle-building foods.
Foods That Boost Your Immunity
Even if you wash your hands regularly and Purell like crazy, you should protect your body from the inside out. The superfoods below have been shown to boost the body’s defense against colds and flu and more serious conditions, too.
If you’re a lactose-intolerant dairy lover, kefir may be your new BFF. The tangy, sour-tasting beverage is made from fermented cow’s milk is 99% lactose-free. It’s also a prime source of probiotics, a type of healthy bacteria that benefits heart health, digestion, and immunity.
Not only can chili peppers boost metabolism and add flavor to your favorite foods sans calories, they’re also rich in an infection-fighting called beta-carotene. Bonus: One Canadian Urological Association Journal report found that hot peppers have anti-prostate-cancer properties. Add one tablespoon of chili flakes or half a chili pepper or to your diet every day to reap the benefits.
For a humble root plant, orange tubers sure are mighty! Not only can eating them regularly counteract the effects of secondhand smoke, they’ve also been shown to prevent diabetes. There’s more: Sweet potatoes contain glutathione, an antioxidant that can bolster immune system health and protect against Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, heart attack, stroke, and liver disease.
“Kale is packed with vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, a substance found in plants that is believed to be beneficial to the prevention of various diseases,” explains Lisa Hayim, RD. “The phytonutrients promote optimal cell function and communication, ensuring that enzymatic reactions occur when they are supposed to within the body, and lays down the foundation for a strong immune system to fight illness.”
If you feel like your immune system has been dwindling lately, pick up a pint of blueberries. Oregon State University recently took a look at over 400 compounds for their ability to boost the immune system, and the study revealed the compound, pterostilbene, in blueberries is a standout. Goodbye Pepto Bismol, hello Pterostilbene! Bored with plain blueberries? Add them to your oatmeal of weight loss smoothies.