We’ve seen already that the authors of the great book Foods that Fight Cancer: Preventing cancer through diet, Richard Béliveau and Denis Gingras, leading cancer researchers, recommend you eat ½ cup cruciferous vegetables (particularly broccoli and brussel sprouts) daily as well as 2 cloves of garlic and ½ cup onions most days of the week. According to their research, they’ve found that these foods, as part of a healthy diet, contain important anti-cancer compounds.
The authors also recommend you eat 1 tsp of turmeric a day.
Turmeric is a yellow spice and a staple in Indian cuisine. In fact, Indians consume 1.5-2 grams of the spice a day, on average! Turmeric is actually responsible for the yellow colour of prepared mustard in North America, but the quantity is so small that we’d have to eat 4kg mustard a day to consume as much turmeric as the average Indian. Not appealing.
Cancer rates in India are about 1/3 of that of the United States, lung and colon/rectum cancer rates in India are negligible compared to the States. Although no epidemiological study has looked at the link between turmeric and this huge disparity, the spice is almost exclusively consumed in India and its primary active ingredient, curcumin, has been studied in labs and found to have very strong anti-cancer potential. Giving the compound to lab animals that were introduced to carcinogens prevented the appearance of tumours. Curcumin is thought to have the greatest impact on colon cancer.
What is important to note is that a molecule found in pepper (black pepper and long pepper, not chilli pepper), piperine, increases the absorption of the turmeric’s curcumin by a factor of 1000. So, add 1 tsp turmeric and ½ tsp pepper to your curries, pastas, soups, salad dressing for a little flavour and a little cancer prevention. Curry powder is also great as it contains both turmeric and pepper.
Enjoy 1/2 cup blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries a day.
Berries contain a high number of phytochemical- anti-cancer compounds produced by plants. For example, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries have a high level of
ellagic acid that has been found to interfere with the development of cancer.
Blueberries contain a very high level of the phytochemical anthocyanidins, followed closely by raspberries, strawberries and cranberries, that is thought to be responsible for the antioxidant potential of berries. It has also been found to impede cancer cell growth, leading to cell death.
Enjoy berries year round- buy them frozen in the winter, ensuing that no sugar has been added, and defrost them to use in cereal, yogourt, make shakes with them or have them as a dessert topping... or as a dessert!
Drink 3 cups of green tea a day.
According to the authors, “green tea is by far the more important contender in the dietary cancer prevention race”.
Catechins are the main polyphenols (class of phytochemicals) found in green tea and are responsible for its anti-cancer properties, especially the catechin called EGCG.
The authors warn that just because the package says ‘green tea’, the product may not have a high amount of EGCG as it’s affected by cultivation area, season, processing etc. In general, Japanese green teas (especially Sencha-Uchiyama , Gyokuro and Sencha) contain a greater amount of the catechin than Chinese teas.
Brewing period- the time that the leaves are steeping in boiling water before drinking- is another important factor to consider. A longer brewing time (8-10 minutes) is favoured as it allows the catechins to be extracted. A bad quality tea brewed for a short time can have up to 60 times less catechins than a better quality tea brewed for a longer time.
As a result of the large variations in polyphenol compositions of green teas, it’s been hard to study. New studies are looking at the amount of polyphenols, rather than green tea, ingested. Nonetheless, the current research suggests that green tea is beneficial in cancer prevention, particularly bladder and prostate cancers, as well as breast and stomach cancer. Animal studies have shown that EGCG prevents the development of cancer triggered by carcinogens, specifically skin, lung, breast, esophageal and colorectal cancers.
Apart from choosing Japanese teas that contain a higher amount of anticancer compounds, and brewing it for at least 8-10 minutes, aim to drink freshly brewed tea, avoiding thermoses, and spread out your 3 cups of tea to get the most benefit.
More of the menu to follow... stay tuned!