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PROFESSOR ROBERT THOMAS presents his top 10 food heroes to reduce the risk of cancer

Most of us know that eating a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and herbs is important to our health – and much thought has gone into the important vitamins and minerals they provide.

Yet the critical role of phytochemicals – powerful chemical compounds in plants that play a critical role in reducing the risk of many chronic degenerative diseases – is often overlooked.

Phytochemicals are wonderful gifts from nature that give fruits and vegetables their different colors, flavors and aromas, while playing an important role in supporting the immune system – and thereby our risk of cancer, dementia, arthritis, heart disease, stroke and macular degeneration reduce (or age-related vision loss) and protect our skin, improve mood and brain function, and aid in muscle recovery.

Most of us know it's important to our health to eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and herbs - and a lot of thought has gone into the important vitamins and minerals they provide [File photo]

Most of us know it’s important to our health to eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and herbs – and a lot of thought has gone into the important vitamins and minerals they provide [File photo]

They are not only found in fruits and vegetables, but also in legumes, nuts, spices and herbs.

The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) strongly recommends eating plenty of foods rich in phytochemicals to protect ourselves from disease, and to help us recover from illness or surgery.

Researchers in Southern California found that women who consumed more than five servings of phytochemically-rich fruits and vegetables per day and exercised regularly had a significantly lower risk of breast cancer recurrence than women who adhered to the five-a-day recommended ‘ kept. guidelines.

Rather than patting ourselves on the back for eating a salad or an occasional serving of broccoli, I believe we should eat twice the recommended five times a day of fruits, vegetables, legumes and herbs to get the nutrients we need. to have.

What you eat can make a big difference in reducing your risk of cancer, especially if you’re using the power of phytochemicals, so here’s my Top 10 Foods You Should Eat One or More EVERY DAY. More if you can.

1) Cruciferous vegetables

Our own study at the Primrose Unit at Bedford Hospital on the eating habits of 155,000 people for 12 years showed a clear link between eating cruciferous vegetables and a lower risk of cancer.

This includes broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, bok choy, asparagus, watercress, Brussels sprouts, wasabi and horseradish.

For example, broccoli protects us from harmful ingested toxins by helping in the formation of the antioxidant enzyme GST, which is important in neutralizing the harmful effects of pollutants, food additives and pesticides.

This group of vegetables is also rich in fiber, vitamins C and K, minerals and other essential nutrients that provide multiple health benefits and fight cancer.

Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, bok choy, asparagus, watercress, Brussels sprouts, wasabi, and horseradish

Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, bok choy, asparagus, watercress, Brussels sprouts, wasabi, and horseradish

Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, bok choy, asparagus, watercress, Brussels sprouts, wasabi, and horseradish

2) Turmeric

This spice is part of the ginger family and is also rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals. It is a powerful weapon against chronic inflammation and oxidative stress and works by enhancing the action of antioxidant enzymes.

Turmeric consumption has been linked to a lower risk of cancer in several studies.

It is a powerful weapon against chronic inflammation and oxidative stress and works by enhancing the action of antioxidant enzymes

It is a powerful weapon against chronic inflammation and oxidative stress and works by enhancing the action of antioxidant enzymes

It is a powerful weapon against chronic inflammation and oxidative stress and works by enhancing the action of antioxidant enzymes

3) Pomegranates

Also referred to as the ‘King of Fruits’, pomegranate is packed with polyphenols that have direct antiviral properties and promote gut health, thus reducing the risk of various cancers.

A supplement containing pomegranate, turmeric, tea and broccoli has been found to slow prostate cancer growth in one of our most reported studies, the Pomi-T study (which we will come back to in Tuesday’s paper when looking at vitamins and supplements).

4) Legumes, seeds and whole grains

These are important sources of numerous phytochemicals – especially lignans and isoflavones. These help suppress excessive levels of the hormone estrogen. Therefore, a high intake of lignans and isoflavones has been linked to lower levels of hormone sensitive cancers such as breast and ovarian cancer.

You can find them in flax, sesame, pumpkin, sunflower and poppy seeds, legumes such as beans, lentils and peas, quinoa and buckwheat, and unrefined whole grains such as rye, oats and barley.

Lignans and isoflavones are mainly found in the outer layers of whole grains and seeds – that’s why it’s important to eat unrefined grains and whole seeds with the husks still intact.

5) Tomatoes

Rich in vitamins, minerals and many different phytochemicals – population studies show that people who eat more tomatoes have a lower risk of cancer.

Some researchers have extracted a common phytochemical from tomatoes called lycopene for use in supplements in the hope that consuming concentrated levels would enhance its anti-cancer effect.

But several studies, including a prestigious Cochrane review in 2011, found that isolating one ingredient did not actually lower the risk of prostate cancer. For me this was yet another example of what it is actually the whole food with the combination of different elements that is so important.

Fortunately, most of the phytochemicals in tomatoes are retained during processing, so canned tomatoes, pastes, and pesto remain great sources.

Rich in vitamins, minerals and many different phytochemicals - population studies show that people who eat more tomatoes have a lower risk of cancer [File photo]

Rich in vitamins, minerals and many different phytochemicals - population studies show that people who eat more tomatoes have a lower risk of cancer [File photo]

Rich in vitamins, minerals and many different phytochemicals – population studies show that people who eat more tomatoes have a lower risk of cancer [File photo]

6) chilies

Numerous studies show that eating a diet of peppers can help keep cancer at bay by encouraging an orderly programmed cell death of damaged cells, thereby preventing the spread of mutated cells.

Research has also shown that it can help prevent breast and colon cancer, especially when combined with turmeric.

A large population survey from China reported that people who ate spicy foods with chili peppers once or twice a week had a death rate 10 percent lower than those who ate it less often.

Topical applications of creams containing chili have shown that the capsaicinoid polyphenols it contains provide relief from the uncomfortable nerve damage in the hands and feet associated with diabetes and also with some cancer chemotherapy drugs.

7) Onions, garlic and leeks

Particularly rich in the polyphenols quercetin, gallic acid and kaempferol, regular intake of these vegetables has been associated with a reduced risk of lung, esophageal and pancreatic cancer, especially among smokers and alcoholics.

These polyphenols are damaged by heat, so it is good to eat them raw as much as possible – in salads for example.

Particularly rich in the polyphenols quercetin, gallic acid and kaempferol, regular intake of these vegetables has been associated with a reduced risk of lung, esophageal and pancreatic cancer, especially among smokers and alcoholics.

Particularly rich in the polyphenols quercetin, gallic acid and kaempferol, regular intake of these vegetables has been associated with a reduced risk of lung, esophageal and pancreatic cancer, especially among smokers and alcoholics.

Particularly rich in the polyphenols quercetin, gallic acid and kaempferol, regular intake of these vegetables has been associated with a reduced risk of lung, esophageal and pancreatic cancer, especially among smokers and alcoholics.

8) Citrus fruits and berries

Virtually all edible berries and fruits are excellent sources of vitamin C, fiber and minerals, as well as many types of phytochemicals.

Wild-grown fruits contain higher levels of phytochemicals than cultivated varieties because they have to fight to thrive – this process, in turn, makes them stronger and richer in phytochemicals. Wild berries also have the advantage of not being sprayed with pesticides or herbicides.

9) Nuts

Tree nuts – walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews and pecans – plus peanuts (which are actually a type of legume) are packed with macro and micronutrients, including compounds that prevent and slow down age-related chronic conditions, while also boosting good gut bacteria.

Rich in good quality fatty acids – especially 3 and 6 which are essential for regulating and supporting our immune system. In addition to proteins, vitamin E and polyphenols, they also offer protection against carcinogenic substances from the environment and UV radiation.

Studies show that eating nuts lowers the risk of cancer – especially prostate, breast and gut. Eating a handful of these nuts every week could reduce the risk of colon cancer recurrence and death from colon cancer by 40 percent, according to dramatic research presented to the American Society of Clinical Oncology in 2017.

10) Beetroot

This is packed with polyphenols and is one of the few vegetables that contains betalaines (the pigments that give it its red-violet color).

They have been identified by several studies for their ability to reduce excessive inflammation and improve antioxidant formation – again important for reducing your cancer risk overall.

In addition to its fiber content and the storage of complex carbohydrates and minerals, beetroot is packed with health-promoting substances in the form of ascorbic acid, carotenoids, phenolic acids and flavonoids.

Packed with polyphenols, this is one of the few vegetables that contains betalaines (the pigments that give it its red-violet color)

Packed with polyphenols, this is one of the few vegetables that contains betalaines (the pigments that give it its red-violet color)

Packed with polyphenols, this is one of the few vegetables that contains betalaines (the pigments that give it its red-violet color)

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