As the old saying goes, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” But can it also keep cancer away? According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, apples are among several fruits that help prevent cancer.
A study published in Nutrition Journal has highlighted the benefits of fruits for cancer patients and the role fruits play in an anti-cancer diet. The American Cancer Society’s recommended dose of fruits and vegetables is 2 1/2 cups a day. Luckily, fruit is a versatile food that can be added to any meal, be it breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Fruit is generally low in calories and fat making it a healthy snack. The natural sugars found in fruit make it ideal for quenching a sweet tooth craving.
In addition to getting essential vitamins and nutrients needed for maintaining a healthy body, many fruits also contain cancer-fighting agents such as antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and phytochemicals. These anti-cancer fruits may reduce inflammation that can lead to the growth of tumors and cancer cells and help your body eliminate potentially dangerous cancer-causing cells.
The American Cancer Society and the American Institute for Cancer Research suggest adding the following anti-cancer fruits to your diet:
- Grapes and grape juice
How Fruits Fight Cancer
When it comes to anti-cancer fruit, the key word to keep in mind is phytochemicals. Phyto is from the Greek word phuton, which basically translates to the word plant. So phytochemicals are chemicals found in plants, including plants that produce fruits and vegetables. Phytochemicals are what give plants their bright, vibrant colors and help plants to grow and thrive. But how do phytochemicals fight cancer?
When consumed, phytochemicals have health benefits such as stimulating the immune system, reducing inflammation, slowing the rate at which cancer cells grow, and eliminating potentially dangerous cells before they can reproduce and form cancer.
Although thousands of phytochemicals have been discovered, the American Institute for Cancer Research highlights four that are found in fruits and have been shown to produce cancer-fighting effects when consumed on a regular basis. Four key phytochemicals found in anti-cancer fruits are carotenoids, flavonoids, polyphenols, and terpenes. But what are these specific phytochemicals other than long, difficult-to-pronounce words? Below is the breakdown of these four phytochemicals, how they fight cancer, and the best anti-cancer fruits.
According to the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, carotenoids act as antioxidants, eliminating dangerous, potential cancer-causing cells called free radicals. Studies published in the Natural Medicine Journal and The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition have shown carotenoids to be helpful in preventing various kinds of cancer including breast cancer and colon cancer.
A study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry states that flavonoids can lower the risk of developing various cancers, including prostate and breast cancer. While the process of understanding exactly how flavonoids slow or prevent the growth of cancer cells is still being researched, the American Institute for Cancer Research suggests that flavonoids may reduce inflammation. Since inflammation is a known link to tumor growth, it is thought that flavonoids help prevent the growth of tumors and cancer cells by reducing inflammation and boosting immunity.
A study published in the nutritional journal Nutrients suggests that polyphenols aid in the prevention of and fight against cancer due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect on the body. This means that polyphenols help rid the body of potential cancer-causing cells and help reduce inflammation to prevent tumor growth.
Terpenes, also called terpenoids, have been shown to fight cancer in multiple ways, including by reducing inflammation and preventing dangerous cell growth. A study published in the World Journal of Hepatology revealed that terpenoids fight and prevent liver cancer specifically.
In summary, fruits are great cancer-fighting foods that provide several essential vitamins and nutrients needed for a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle. They also contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatories that may reduce the risk of developing cancer. Fruits are rich in phytochemicals which have several anti-cancer effects on the body when consumed. Key phytochemicals found in fruits include carotenoids, flavonoids, polyphenols, and terpenes, or terpenoids. Fruits to include in your diet to reap the anti-cancer benefits include apples, apricots, blueberries, cantaloupe, cherries, cranberries, grapefruit, grapes and grape juice, lemons, limes, mandarins, oranges, strawberries, tomatoes, and watermelon.