My top 3 cancer fighting foods and how to use them
Balance is key when it comes to cancer fighting foods. You can’t just add a few ‘Superfoods’ every now and then to your existing diet if it’s low in nutrients and high in toxins.
Your whole diet needs to be addressed by eating healthy most of the time and at the same time adding foods known to help prevent cancer.
Recently I was asked to speak at The Big C’s Volunteer recognition event in Norwich. The Big C is such as an amazing charity, providing the people of Norfolk with much needed support in terms of treatment, research, equipment and being there to listen and advise during tough times. Here are some of the foods I spoke of at that event, and the best ways to use them.
The Institute of Food Research in Norwich has developed the Beneforte broccoli, which has been developed to have a higher level of glucoraphanin, an antioxidant that may help to balance metabolism, which is important in the fight against cancer. They are doing some interesting research into the use of this broccoli to help with prostate cancer, and I’m really looking forward to hearing about their results
Broccoli is also rich in soluble fibre, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium and other important nutrients, which are all vital for a balanced immune system. In fact, broccoli comes from the same family as cabbages, cauliflowers, Brussels sprouts and Kohlrabi, the cruciferous vegetables that have been studied greatly in terms of cancer fighting compounds.
If you struggle to get your family to eat broccoli, here are some top tips you can try:
- Steam – fresh, frozen broccoli.
- Salads – slice finely and use raw. Drizzle on some olive oil to support carotenoid absorption.
- Soup – throw the stalks in as well!
- Stir Fried – with oyster sauce and ginger, chilli, sesame seeds.
- Broccoli quiche, vegetable tart, tempura broccoli.
- Broccoli superfood pizza. If you’re making your own base, you can blend some raw into the flour!.
- Frittata – a great way to use up any leftovers.
- Broccoli pesto – it’s so easy to make your own pesto! Again, use the stalks.
You can even blend up cooked broccoli and add to cake and brownie recipes.
Add it to smoothies with avocado, banana, some cucumber, apple and ginger…delicious!
Stalks and leftovers!… don’t just throw them away, you can stir fry, steam and add to a grilled cheese sandwich, chop finely and add to meatballs, blend into pasta sauces, mash into mashed potato.
Also known as Indian saffron is a mild spice that gives the yellow colouring we associate with many Asian dishes. Studies have shown, in countries where turmeric is eaten daily, there is a lower risk of many different types of cancers. Further research is also being done into the active component curcumin which may have anti-inflammatory effects. Most promising results have been seen with breast, bowel, stomach and skin cancer cells. Curcumin has also been shown to modulate multiple molecular pathways involved in the development of cancer cells, which is why it is such a great cancer fighting food to add to your diet.
If you’ve never used turmeric before – don’t be afraid. The flavour is very mild, and it doesn’t really change the flavour of any dishes, just the colour! Here are some ideas you can try:
- Add half a teaspoon to scramble or a frittata
- Sprinkle over roasted vegetables
- Add to rice for colour and flavour
- Add to kedgeree
- Spicy popcorn
- Sprinkle over leafy greens
- Flavour soups – e.g. creamy curried cauliflower soup or spicy lentil soup
- Curries, dahls
- Smoothies – add a good pinch to any
- Pan fry a handful of seeds with some salt, pepper and a pinch of turmeric
Also, use black pepper alongside your turmeric, as it can increase the absorption through your digestive system.
These little green seeds are a powerhouse of nutrients, rich in zinc and magnesium; the two minerals most commonly deficient in adults. One-quarter cup of pumpkin seeds contains nearly half of the recommended daily amount of magnesium. They also provide a good source of low fat protein and are rich in phytoestrogens and soluble fibre.
All of these compounds are important for immune regulation, gut health and hormonal balance, which is why pumpkin seeds are on my list of top cancer fighting foods.
Most recently, a compound found in pumpkin seeds called cucurbitacin E, which discovered through cellular research, has shown that it can help in the fight against breast cancer (ref 1).
I also often recommend that people have a snack of pumpkin seeds before bedtime, or an oatcake with pumpkin seed butter, as they are rich in the amino acid tryptophan. It’s the precursor to serotonin, which can help to support the relaxation response and therefore sleep. As we know, stress has a negative impact on your immune system and as part of any anti-cancer diet it’s important to address your stress levels and how well you sleep.
Here are my top ideas on how to get more pumpkin seeds into your diet:
- Great as a snack. Either plain or you can toast them in a pan with turmeric, soya sauce, pinch of chilli…. Or if you have a sweet tooth try vanilla and honey.
- Sprinkle on breakfast cereal or porridge.
- Use ground pumpkin seeds, which are nice in yoghurt or added to cereals, soups or porridge. You can also add them to baking; flapjacks, cakes, biscuits etc.
- Pumpkin seed butter is a great alternative to butter or margarine and is available in most health food stores.
- Add to pesto and sauces.
- Chop to make a crispy crumb on chicken or fish. Lovely mixed with breadcrumbs, sun dried tomatoes, and cream cheese. Great on fish fingers and chicken nuggets – yum!
- Add to stir fries and salads – just get sprinkling!
- Add ground to smoothies.
- Add to baking; breads, cakes, muffins – either whole or ground.
Want to find out more? I will be running another series of workshops for The Big C later in the year alongside Medical Herbalist Alex Hobbs. Check back as I will be posting more details soon.