Anti-Cancer Fall Foods
You may have heard that some foods are “cancer fighting foods” and we’re going to discuss what that means and some delicious seasonal fall foods that can help with risk reduction of cancer and to help fight it if you’re on a cancer journey currently. Ready on to learn the ins-and-outs of the most anti-cancer fall foods.
How foods work to fight cancer
Anti-cancer foods with antioxidants can help neutralize oxidants, also known as free radicals, which are produced through natural processes within our bodies and are rapidly produced by radiation, toxic chemicals, inflammation and other insults to our cells. Antioxidants bind with these free radicals and neutralize them which helps prevent cell damage. All that to say that preventing damage to cells helps keep them running well and makes them less susceptible to irregularities and cancer.
Anti-cancer foods can also be anti-inflammatory. Inflammation can cause an increase in free radicals, as mentioned above, but also inflamed tissues are known to foster growth of irregular cells including cancer. Cancer is an inflammatory process and so my goal as your dietitian is often to try and cool things off a bit. Eating an anti-inflammatory diet has been shown to protect our cells in many ways including chronic diseases like cancer. I wrote a book about how to easily implement an anti-inflammatory diet, so make sure to pick a copy up for yourself right here!
Anti-cancer foods can contain bioactive compounds that work to remove toxins, support healthy immune function, reduce inflammation, and generally support healthy cells. Bioactives are plentiful in fresh foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and beans and are best gotten through eating whole, fresh foods. These are exactly the kinds of foods you want to be eating to help your body become as anti-cancer as possible.
Fall foods to fight cancer
Fall is in the air which means some of our favorite fall foods are finally in season! And even better, many of our fall favorites contain compounds that help protect cells from damage that could lead to cancer.
Cruciferous vegetables are great anti-cancer foods. They also tend to grow best when temperatures are below 70o, so are great fall choices. Kale is a cruciferous vegetable that is low in calories and packed with folate and vitamins C, E and K. Kale is great in salads and can also be made into kale chips for a delicious snack. Other cruciferous vegetables include:
You can roast them to bring out the sweetness and reduce some of the bitterness, you can also steam them and drizzle with olive oil for a healthy side or add to soups and stews you are making. Bok choy and broccoli are commonly added to stir fries and noodle dishes in asian cuisine. Arugula is a great and flavorful addition to salads, sandwiches or as a pizza topping. These foods tend to have a distinctive flavor due to the sulfur they contain, this can be highlighted by using them raw, or dulled by cooking them up in a variety of ways.
Winter Squashes includes a wide array of squash such as pumpkin, acorn squash, and butternut squash. These are high in carotenoids that may help reduce the risk of some cancers. While squash is low in calories, it is high in vitamins C and A, magnesium, and potassium. Winter squash is great roasted, stuffed, or pureed to make a yummy fall soup. Squash can also be cooked into oatmeal, baked into a pie or added to a smoothie.
I’ve got a couple up on the blog for you - check out this pumpkin protein smoothie!
Root vegetables are fall seasonal foods which are just edible roots of plants. There is a large variety to choose from and they all boast an impressive, but slightly different, nutrient profile.
Beets - contain nitrates which help improve blood flow, studies have shown anti-cancer and anti-tumor properties of beetroot.
Onions - High in antioxidants and known for anticancer properties these flavorful vegetables can be added to omelets, stir frys, casseroles and pretty much any savory dish or can be eaten raw to add a more potent flavor.
Garlic - similar to onions in that they are a flavor base for many dishes they contain allicin which helps regulate blood pressure, improve immunity and has powerful anti cancer properties.
Ginger and Turmeric - these root vegetables are used like herbs and can be added to sweet or savory dishes and you can even use them to make teas. They have powerful anti cancer and anti inflammatory bioactives
Parsnips, turnips and rutabaga - are less common white root vegetables, they all have good amounts of vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant and are a fun way to change things up.
Carrots and orange sweet potatoes/yams - are great sources of vitamin A and beta carotene. These are helpful for skin health and immunity which are both intrinsic in cancer prevention.
Fall fruits are often overlooked but there are many fall fruits with great anti-cancer properties.
Figs - have a mild, sweet taste and can be consumed fresh or dried. Figs are high in copper, which is needed for biological processes such as metabolism, energy production, and iron absorption.
Apples - these days the varieties of apples seem unlimited. Including apples is great for cancer prevention as they are known antiinflammatory foods and have fiber to protect against colon cancer and polyphenols which help support healthy cells.
Grapes - a great source of polyphenols which are great for fighting free radicals. They are wonderful on their own and can be a fun addition to salads.
Citrus fruits - a great source of vitamin C, and anticancer flavonoids, citrus can be added to salads, used in dressings and sauces, eaten as a snack or put into a salsa to serve with fish.
Persimmons - orange, tomato-shaped are a less commonly eaten fruit. They can be eaten fresh, dried or cooked and are commonly used in salads, drinks, pies, curries and puddings. They are rich in vitamin A and C, fiber and bioactives that help keep immune systems functioning well and help your body’s cells stay functioning at their best.
If you are interested in fitting more anti-cancer foods into your diet, make sure also to check out my newest publication: How to Eat to Beat Disease Cookbook: 75 Healthy Recipes to Protect Your Well-Being
I’m also available for one on one meetings to help personalize ways to fit more anti-cancer foods into your meals in easy ways that fit in your life. Please be sure to reach out to see how my team can help!