It is important to understand that eating right boosts your odds of staying healthy, but no lifestyle changes or treatments can promise to keep cancer from developing or coming back. Research has identified that foods designated as “nutrient-rich” contain a powerhouse of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and flavonoids (a beneficial type of phytochemical). We should aim to get 100% of all essential nutrients from whole, unprocessed foods.
The following is a list of easily available and highly recommended nutrient-¬rich foods—try including more of these in your daily diet:
- Berries—a 1 cup serving contains substances that prevent carcinogens from binding to the DNA in the cells.
- Brazil nuts—1 or 2 medium sized nuts is one serving, containing large amounts of selenium, which encourages suicide of cancer cells. Try one serving each day.
- Citrus fruits—1/2 grapefruit, 1 medium orange, 1 medium tangerine, or 1/2 to 2/3 a cup of their juices per day as a serving contributes limonoids, which inhibit the activation of cancer cells.
- Colorful vegetables—a 1 cup serving eaten 2–3 times per week is ideal to provide a good source of carotenoids, which help the immune system fight free radicals. Beta carotene also hinders cell proliferation and increases communication between cells, both of which are thought to inhibit the development and progression of cancer. Reach for sweet potatoes, spinach, squash, and pumpkin.
- Cruciferous vegetables—a 1 cup serving at least 3 times per week is ideal, providing compounds called isothiocyanates, which stimulate enzymes that break down cancer-¬causing chemicals. Reach for broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, or kale.
- Fish—3–6oz servings 2–3 times per week is ideal (but no more than 12oz. per week) to supply omega 3 fatty acids, which may slow tumor growth. Fish also helps to keep cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure within normal ranges. Choose sardines, herring, anchovies, wild salmon, canned salmon, light canned tuna, Atlantic mackerel, black cod and striped bass. There are some contaminants in fish, so to reduce them, remove the skin and fat beneath the fish with a sharp knife before cooking. Bake, broil or grill your fish instead of sautéing or frying. Do not use batter or breading, as these trap the fat drippings. Also limit farm¬-raised fish and try to eat more wild-¬caught fish—vary your choices.
- Flaxseed—Gradually work up to 2 tbs. per day to provide lignans and omega 3 fatty acids, which may lower hormone levels and slow tumor growth. Use flaxseed or flaxmeal and store it in the refrigerator or freezer.
- Legumes—a ½ cup serving eaten 4–5 times per week supplies folate, which may protect against DNA damage. Buy lentils, beans, peas—fresh, dried, or canned.
- Tomatoes—a ½ cup serving eaten 4 times per week is ideal for lycopene, which fends off oxidation and protects cell membranes. Ideally, eat cooked tomato products for a stronger dose of lycopene.
- Yogurt—a ½ cup serving eaten daily provides probiotics (healthy bacteria that can boost immunity), in addition to calcium and protein. Select a low-fat variety with many different kinds of live cultures.
- Tea (green, black, white or oolong teas are all recommended)—Drink 2–3 cups each day. Tea provides flavonoids, which neutralize harmful free radicals.