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Do anti-cancer superfoods really work?

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Do anti-cancer superfoods really work?

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The short answer to this question is – drum roll, please – yes. They really do. While studies are ongoing, and in many cases experts still don’t know exactly how these superfoods work, there’s strong evidence that certain fruit and vegetables rich in plant-based nutrients can both prevent tumours from starting and halt their growth. Here, the top foods to work into the family diet if you’d like to cut cancer risk or help those with cancer recover. And who wouldn’t?
Blueberries, açai berries, raspberries, and cranberries
The rich, dark colours of blueberries, Brazilian açai berries, raspberries and cranberries come from phytochemicals that protect against numerous types of cancer. Most recently, researchers at the University of Florida found that the active ingredient in açai berries destroyed cancer cells when tested in cell cultures.
And blueberries and muscadine grapes contain compounds that recent research shows cause cancer cells in the liver to self-destruct. In studies particularly important to women, cranberries have recently been discovered to be an important weapon in the fight against deadly ovarian cancer.
Studies reported at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society found that ovarian cancer cells that were becoming resistant to platinum chemotherapy – the standard of care for ovarian cancer – became six times more sensitive when exposed to a compound in cranberries.
The anti-cancer properties of all these berries are so strong that researchers are developing concentrated supplements and other products such as purees and concentrates.
Green tea
One of the first plant-based chemicals to be studied for its anti-cancer properties, catechins – the chemicals in green tea – have been known for some time to prevent and reduce recurrence of breast and other cancers. With this particular chemical, experts even know why: a chemical known as EGCG inhibits breast-tumour growth, a University of Mississippi study shows. Just two cups       a day is enough to do the trick.
Numerous studies over the years (more than 30 different studies to date) have documented the anti-cancer properties of garlic. The strongest evidence so far has focused on digestive cancers, but garlic appears to protect against all types of cancer, including breast and prostate.
According to the National Cancer Institute, an analysis of seven different large-scale population studies showed that the more raw and cooked garlic a person consumed, the lower the risk of stomach and colorectal cancer.
One study found that middle-aged women who regularly consumed garlic had a 50 per cent lower risk of developing colon cancer.
Scientists have isolated two active ingredients in garlic, allicin and allyl sulphur, and demonstrated that they prevent and fight cancer in both animals and humans. You can take garlic in supplement form but the capsules must be enteric-coated to protect these active ingredients.
Add crushed, fresh garlic to your meals whenever possible; some experts also recommend waiting 15 minutes between peeling and chopping the garlic to get the full effects of the active compounds.
Broccoli and cabbage
British researchers made headlines last year with a study that showed that men with early signs of developing prostate cancer prevented tumour growth by eating broccoli four times a week. Other studies have shown anti-cancer benefits from eating cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and other cruciferous vegetables.
Onions and leeks
According to the National Institutes of Health, studies of people from southern Europe who eat a diet high in garlic and onions show a direct relationship between high consumption of “allium” vegetables (all types of garlic, onions, and leeks) and reduced risk of many common cancers.