Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Top 5 Super Cancer Fighters
1. Cruciferous vegetables: Think “crunchy” and munch away to your heart’s content. Cruciferous veggies -- cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, watercress and mustard greens -- you can’t eat too much of these. All are rich in antioxidant phytochemicals and fiber, which are cancer protectors. Broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower contain indole-3-carbinol that can combat breast cancer by converting a cancer-promoting estrogen into a more protective variety. Broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts and cabbage contain antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin that may help decrease prostate and other cancers.
2. Colorful fruits and vegetables pack a “one-two punch” to protect your cells from the ravages of free radicals, produced by your body’s metabolism and from the environment. When left unchecked by antioxidants from healthy foods, free radicals can be cancer-causing. Color means super-nutrition, so eat at least nine servings daily. It’s not hard to do. A serving is one small to medium piece of fruit, a half-grapefruit, cup of melon, 15 grapes, a cup of berries stirred into a cup of yogurt or a fresh-fruit smoothie. Crunch on baby carrots; add tomatoes to salad; tomato salsa to baked sweet potatoes; spinach or kale to a casserole. Deep-orange sweet potato, mangos and nectarines mean vitamin C and beta carotene. Vibrantly colored, flavonoid-rich berries are tops for cancer-fighting antioxidants and phytochemicals. Red grapes contain antioxidants called bioflavonoids and are rich in resveratrol, which inhibits tumor growth.
3. Folate: Think green! And brown, as in whole grains, beans and fortified breads and cereals. Green leafy veggies and grain foods are rich in folate, and research points to higher risk for colon, rectum and breast cancer in people who get less folate than they need (about 400 micrograms daily), and it’s especially important for women who may even be thinking about becoming pregnant. Women who drink alcohol should also be sure to get enough folate, to lower cancer risk. Researchers say eat your folate, it’s better from foods than supplements.
4. Fat: Some fats are very good for you, in the right portion size and ratio. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids (MUFA & PUFA) are rich in antioxidants E and selenium, and are linked to lower rates of heart disease and cancer. They enhance absorption of immunity-boosting and inflammation-reducing antioxidants from fruits and vegetables, and lower risk for cancer. Best sources of healthy fats are nuts, seeds, avocado and flaxseed and fatty fish (more below). Portion control is important, because fat has nine calories per gram compared to four for protein and carbohydrate. Avoid corn and safflower oil; olive and canola oils have the best nutritional profiles.
5. Fish: Research shows that people who replace saturated fat from red meat with fish rich in PUFA omega-3 fatty acids have lower rates of breast and colon cancer. Omega-3s promote brain growth and development, and they are also important in reducing risk for inflammation and cancer. Best Fats: in fatty fish including wild salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines. Bake, broil, grill, poach. Don’t fry, especially in hydrogenated fat. By the way, all fish are low in saturated fat and cholesterol, but deepwater large fish including fresh tuna, king mackerel and some fresh water fish often contain undesirable levels of toxic mercury. Shellfish is a good choice. Instead of fatty tarter sauce, enjoy cocktail sauce made with tomato ketchup and horseradish, with a squeeze of fresh lemon and Tabasco.
Top 5 Stupid Foods
1. Bad fats: Saturated and hydrogenated fat are solid at room temperature. Both are bad for your heart, and increase risk for cancer. Regular consumption of saturated fat raises both total and LDL “bad” cholesterol; trans fat may act like saturated fats in the body, raise LDL but also lower HDL (“good”) cholesterol. Whole milk, butter, cheese and ice cream, red meat, chocolate, coconuts, coconut milk and coconut oil are rich in saturated fat. Although a tiny amount of trans fat occurs naturally in meat, it’s found mainly in most margarines (except those labeled “trans fat-free”) and vegetable shortening. Even if a food item is labeled “free” of trans fat, a serving may contain up to 0.5 grams. If you eat more than a single serving, or a few servings of foods labeled “free” daily, you may be accumulating trans fat in your diet. Read the ingredient list first and avoid “partially hydrogenated” oils.
2. (Some) Meat: Some meats packed in cellophane rank tops on the stupid list, because they’re processed with substances linked to colon, stomach and other cancers -- especially sodium nitrate. Research shows that frequent consumption of processed and red meat is associated with higher rates of cancer. Avoid bacon, sausages, breakfast meats, pepperoni, hot dogs and luncheon meats; try a veggie dog or tofu pup. Save lean red meat for an occasional meal and replace with grilled fish, or a meatless meal of beans and rice, plus lots of veggies, and finish with fruit.
3. Burnt Meat: Don’t char or burn meat or poultry on the grill, which may also increase cancer risk. An occasional barbeque is fine, but regular dining on well-done or charred meats increase your exposure to chemicals created when high temps break down an amino acid in meats. Fats dripping onto coals create more chemicals in smoke, which waft up and make the meat even more problematic. When grilling, precook meat or poultry in the oven or microwave and finish on the grill. It’s OK if you char plant foods -- there are no fat drippings to worry you. Try a barbeque of meaty mushrooms, tempe (fermented soybean cake), eggplant and zucchini.
4. Too Much Booze: A little may be good, a lot can kill you. Although moderate consumption of alcohol may be heart-healthy and even promote immunity, consistently overdoing alcohol increases risk for many cancers, including liver and some digestive cancers. Breast cancer risk increases with increased alcohol consumption.
5. Sugary Soda: Soda adds calories and promotes obesity, an independent risk factor for cancer. Soda displaces good nutrition; instead of drinking a glass of folate-rich orange juice, for example, reaching for a soda means you may not be getting enough of this cancer-fighting nutrient. There’s some research that links soda and esophageal cancer, and although not conclusive, your health and waistline will no doubt benefit from avoiding sugared soda. By the way, diet soda’s artificial sweeteners, additives and preservatives also displace cancer-fighting nutrients.
American Cancer Society: www.cancer.org
Cancer Cure Foundation www.cancure.org
Mayo Clinic: www.mayoclinic.com