The Anti-Cancer Rainbow

Plant foods contain compounds that can shine a spotlight on disease prevention.

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May 2010

Just as white light is formed from a spectrum of color wavelengths, a cancer-protective diet contains a full spectrum of colorful produce. “Vegetables and fruits,along with whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, contain thousands of phytochemicals—many of which influence one or more stages of
cancer development,” says Karen Collins, MS, RD, nutritional advisor to the American Institute of Cancer Research. “This makes variety in the plant foods we eat more important than ever.” To learn what substances give these foods their colors and health benefits, turn the page.

What’s worse, “the same day I learned I didn’t have stereovision I learned I could never get it,” says Barry. That’s because the developing brain was thought to be like a vat of drying concrete: The flexibility that allowed a young child’s brain to acquire skills such as stereovision was simply lost by the time a person reached adulthood. Barry would even use herself as an example in passing along that conventional wisdom to her students.

Compound Found in Actions

Allicin

Garlic, leek, onion, scallion, shallot Garlic intake linked to reduced cancer rates; allyl sulfides suppresswild cell growth
Limonoids Grapefruit, lemon, lime, noni, orange Promotes detoxification of cancer-causing compounds within the digestive tract; may inhibit breast cancer cell growth
Carotenoids Apricots, carrots, kale, spinach, sweet potatoes Antioxidants that boost immunity; one carotenoid, lutein, has been linked to reduced risk of kidney and ovarian cancers
Catechins Apples, berries, green tea (best-known source) Inhibits enzymatic reactions that can lead to cancer; has reduced tumor size in lab studies
Chlorophyll Barley and wheat grasses, chlorella,leafy greens, spirulina Helps neutralize toxins and boost the body’s immune defenses
Sulforaphane Broccoli, especially broccoli sprouts Has counteracted genes that increase cancer susceptibility in lab studies; helps the body destroy abnormal cells
Lycopene Grapefruit, tomato (best-known source), watermelon Helps protect cells against free-radical damage; may reduce risk of breast, intestinal, pancreatic and prostate cancers
Ellagic Acid Grapes, pomegranates, raspberries,strawberries Has inhibited tumor growth and blood-vessel development, and promoted natural death of cancer cells, in lab studies
Resveratrol Grapes, peanuts; supplements often useJapanese knotweed Helps reduce exposure to the toxic effects of cancer-causing chemicals and normalize the natural cell life cycle
Anthocyanins Açai, berries, black currants, goji, grapes,mangosteen, plums May inhibit tumorous cell growth and protect against the kind of genetic damage that leads to cancer development

Note: If you have cancer or any other pre-existing condition, speak to a healthcare practitioner
before starting a supplementation program.

 

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