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Cancer is the second-leading cause of death in the United States and was responsible for over 608,000 deaths in 2021. And while there are several ways to treat and beat cancer naturally, the best way to fight cancer is to prevent it from developing in the first place.
There are several ways to keep cancer at bay, including exercise, avoiding toxins, and getting the right nutrition. But perhaps chief among these is nutrition. The right anti-cancer foods and nutrients can combat cancer by strengthening the immune system, detoxifying the body, reducing inflammation, and preventing cancer cells from replicating.
I’ve put together 5 amazing cancer-fighting vegetables to add to your anti-cancer diet that will drastically increase your chances of keeping cancer at bay. Not only that, but these foods serve in a myriad of ways to help support a healthy body. With the right nutrition, you can ensure a happy, healthy lifestyle.
Modern medicine relies heavily on drugs and other invasive interventions to fight disease, but these treatments generally address symptoms and not causes. They are reactive measures instead of proactive measures. We are blessed to find everything we need in nature… most disease is man-made and we can prevent it!
So here they are: the top 5 cancer-fighting veggies to help you stay vibrant and healthy.
Garlic is one of my favorite foods for cooking. It’s a flavorful addition that’s great in almost any dish. But more importantly, it has an abundance of health benefits. Packed with vitamins C and B6, selenium, and fiber, garlic is a great source of nutrients. It can also help treat hypertension by lowering blood pressure, possesses antioxidant properties, and is a powerful detoxifying agent.
But perhaps most importantly, garlic has powerful anti-cancer abilities. A 2009 study published in the journal Food Chemistry found that garlic was able to completely stop cancer growth for certain cancers. Lung, brain, breast, prostate, and pancreatic cancers were all effectively stopped. According to the study’s authors:
All members of the Allium family tested in this study were powerful inhibitors of tumour cell proliferation. In fact, among all vegetables tested in this study, the extract from garlic was by far the strongest inhibitor of tumour cell proliferation, with complete growth inhibition of all tested cell lines.”
Broccoli is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family and a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants protect against cell damage caused by free radicals. These rogue cells are thought to be a major cause of cancer proliferation. It also contains a powerful nutrient compound known as sulforaphane.
Sulforaphane has been the subject of hundreds of peer-reviewed studies and is one of the most proven nutrients for blocking the progression and formation of cancer. It can also help to induce apoptosis, which is the body’s natural system of programmed cell death when cells become damaged or mutated. Without apoptosis, damaged cells are allowed to multiply and spread, leading to cancer.
Cruciferous veggies like broccoli also contain vitamins C, K, and E, are anti-inflammatory, and can help prevent angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels that helps cancer proliferate). It has also been shown to render carcinogens inactive, which is essential in today’s toxic world.
3| Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts are loaded with nutrients, including vitamin C, potassium, and B vitamins, plus it has antioxidant properties. Another member of the cruciferous family, these sprouts are rich in sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates, which support detoxification, and indole-3-carbinol which reduces the risk of breast, colon, and lung cancer. Glucosinolates also assist in suppressing carcinogens and inducing apoptosis.
If all that isn’t enough, Brussels sprouts are also an anti-inflammatory, which is important. Chronic inflammation is at the root of most chronic disease, so anything you can do to reduce it is a huge win.
Yet another cruciferous veggie (noticing a trend?), kale is an excellent source of antioxidants, calcium, vitamin C, and chlorophyll.
Chlorophyll helps to prevent the body from absorbing carcinogens. Kale has also been shown to defend against diabetes and heart disease.
Kale is also a major source of organosulfer compounds, which have been shown in studies to reduce the risk of cancer. It is also a source of sulforaphane, a type of glucosinolate. Sulforaphane also boosts your immune system, which is the bodies natural defense system and your best bet for preventing disease.
In the kitchen, kale can be used in many ways…
Artichokes are actually a perennial thistle, but they’re absolutely loaded with nutrients. Vitamins C, K, and B9, calcium, iron, and potassium are just a few of the health benefits you’ll get from artichokes. They can help prevent coronary disease and have antioxidant properties to help fight free radicals.
One study found that extracts from artichoke leaves can inhibit cancer growth and activity. And by inducing apoptosis, they are especially effective at combating breast cancer.
Artichokes are one of my favorite veggies. Below is a tasty French-inspired recipe that is sure to please!
If you want to get a head start on cancer prevention, these veggies are a great way to start. You’ll be able to reduce inflammation and angiogenesis, promote apoptosis and healthy immune function, detoxify and neutralize harmful carcinogens, and attack the mechanisms that cancer cells use to grow.
Even better, you’ll be providing your body with tons of essential nutrients and minerals. Be sure to buy organic and balance your diet with all of the other nutrients you need to stay healthy.
For those of you who want to incorporate more anti-cancer foods into your diet, check out more recipes on our site, packed with delicious ways to prepare nutritious, cancer-fighting meals!
Editor’s Note: This article was initially published in 2018 and was updated in February 2022.