Anticancer Diet


The Cancer Project says that the foods that help discourage cancer growth are the same foods that help prevent cancer from growing in the first place. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), a plant-based diet consisting of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes can help detour stress and disease because of their protective nutrients and powerful antioxidants. Finding the link between ingesting nutritious foods and preventing cancer is possible.


No anticancer diet is complete without vegetables which contain cancer-fighting substances called phytochemicals. Indoles, carotenoids and flavones are a few phytochemicals that have been found to inactivate carcinogens and other substances that damage DNA, leading to cancer. Dr. Christine Horner, author of Waking the Warrior Goddess, says that phytochemicals can block the steps required for cancer to grow. Broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, eggplant, green beans, kale and onions are all at the top of the cancer-fighting vegetables list.


Also packed with phytochemicals, fruits are an important part of the anticancer diet. The AICR says that consuming berries is a crucial part of fighting cancer. Blueberries have anthocyanosides and strawberries have flavonoids, both of which are potent antioxidants that help the immune system fight disease. A few other items at the top of the cancer-fighting fruit list are apricots, grapefruit, grapes, lemons, mangoes, oranges, papayas, peaches, tangerines and persimmons. All contain vitamin C and fiber, known to protect against colorectal and esophageal cancers.

Whole Grains

Whole grains contain three parts: the germ, the bran and the endosperm. These three together provide fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals which protect cells from damage. According to the AICR, whole grains have antioxidants, phenols, lignans and saponins. Phenols can help interrupt cancer production pathways and bind potentially harmful free radicals, says the Linus Pauling Institute. Some great anticancer whole grains are brown rice, wild rice, bulgur wheat, oatmeal and kasha.


The AICR says that legumes like lentils, peas and soybeans have active ingredients that help prevent cancer. The phytochemicals saponins, protease inhibitors and phytic acid in legumes help protect cells from the damage that can lead to cancer production. Phytic acid has been shown to slow the progression of tumors and protease inhibitors slow the division of cancer cells by releasing substances that help prevent the growth of tumors, according to the AICR.


Although eating less total fat overall is good, consuming the wrong kinds of fat may contribute to cancer production more than eating too much fat. Researchers have found that some fats do not contribute to cancer and may actually have some anticancer affects, according to Unsaturated fats (found in legumes) and monounsaturated fats (found in olive and canola oils) are good choices. Seafood is high in omega 3 fatty acids, while flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds are rich in omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.

About this Author

Julie Webb Kelley is a registered nurse with a bachelor’s degree in communications. In the last 20 years she has written for newspapers, hospitals and websites. As a breast cancer conqueror, Webb Kelley’s passion is writing about women’s health and wellness, children’s health, and alternative approaches to medicine.