In this post, I would like to give you a list of the top anticancer foods and how you can integrate them into your cooking, whether in Filipino dishes or not. As one who has had a very close brush with cancer, I assure you incorporating these items in your diet is a lot easier than going through treatment. Prevention is best and these are the best foods to equip you to be healthy and cancer-
Broccoli and other Cruciferous Vegetables
Eat your broccoli. We’ve heard that over and over again because it is the right advice. Broccoli is high in a lot of nutrients including Vitamin C, fiber, Vitamin K, iron and potassium. It is loaded with antioxidants to fight cancer. Gentle steaming is the best way to cook it and retain these nutrients.
You can include broccoli in any stir-fry recipe, like the pancit bihon in my previous post. You can also cook it separately and serve with any dish you prepare.
What are the other cruciferous vegetables? Cauliflower, cabbage, garden cress, bok choy and Brussels sprouts. Cauliflower, cabbage and bok choy are also good candidates for stir-fry. Cut off the ends of Brussels sprouts and toss with salt and olive oil. Place on a sheet pan and roast in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Shake the pan from time to brown the sprouts evenly.
Garden cress or water cress can be washed and tossed with a salad or added to a sandwich. You can even grow your own sprouts by buying seeds and soaking them in water. It will be ready to harvest in a few days. You can have a micro-green garden right at your kitchen.
Green tea is made from Camellia sinensis leaves. The process of making green tea does not involve the withering and oxidation process used to make black teas and oolong teas. It originated in China, but nowadays, it is being produced and manufactured in many parts of Asia.
Green tea is also available in concentrated extract form which is available from health stores or naturopathic websites. Please consult your doctor or naturopath on the best dosage for you based on your condition.
A cup or two of green tea a day goes a long way in making your body healthy. Even better is Matcha Green tea, a cup of which has 10 times more antioxidants than a cup of brewed green tea. You can check out matcha tea here.
Berries have the highest antioxidant of all fruits. The fact that they are easy to eat and get make them the best weapons in your health arsenal. You can have blackberries, strawberries, cherries, raspberries and blueberries. There are also the more exotic goji berries and camu camu. They can be eaten raw or cooked with meals and desserts. Berries are a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin A and Gallic acid, a very powerful ingredient that increases immunity.
I add berries in my breakfast smoothie every morning. My simple smoothie recipe also includes a banana, 3 tbsp of Greek yogurt, 1 1/2 cup of almond milk and a scoop of protein or peanut butter powder. I prepare the ingredients in a container the night before so I just wake up and put it in a blender. There is enough for 3 glasses so my husband and my son also have it for breakfast.
Bright Orange Colored Fruits and Vegetables
Plants that have bright colored pigments have a lot of carotenoid antioxidants. This is why diet experts encourage people to have a very colorful plate. Food that belongs to this category include sweet potatoes, citrus fruits, squash and pumpkin which are chock-full of nutrients for liver health, detoxification and loads of anti-cancer properties.
Citrus fruits are easy to add to your daily diet as snacks or part of a meal. Yellow squash can be added to stir=fries and pumpkin can be part of stews. A good Filipino dish for this is ‘Ginataang Kalabasa at Sitaw (Pumpkin and Green Beans with Coconut Milk) ’ which I can describe in a later post.
Low carb enthusiasts may say no to sweet potatoes, carrots, beets and whole grain foods which are carbohydrate-rich vegetables. When they do, they miss out on the chance of protecting themselves from cancer of the upper digestive tract. Carrots can be part of your daily smoothie if you have a high horsepower blender like Vitamix. If you don’t, it is easy to add this to salads and sautéed vegetables.
Sweet potatoes can be used as substitute for any dish that requires potatoes. It can also be baked in the oven and sprinkled with a little sugar and cinnamon. It can also be sliced thinly and baked into chips.
Switch to brown rice instead of Jasmine white rice and you reap the advantages of extra vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and fiber. This also prevents heart disease. Other good grains are whole wheat flour, bulgur, oatmeal and quinoa. Take baby steps if you cannot make a complete switch. Maybe have half brown rice and half white rice to start with.
Herbs and Spices
Let me start with turmeric. This is one of the most powerful components of an anti-cancer diet because it has been known to reduce tumor size. It is best to use it with black pepper to enhance absorption and fight inflammation in the body. If you want to take supplements, 1000 milligrams daily is recommended but please consult with your doctor.
If you would rather take it as spice, combine 1/4 tsp with 1/4 tsp of black pepper and use as flavoring for dishes that you cook. Turmeric tea is also available in health food websites. I saw a lot of turmeric tea the last time I went to the Philippines to visit family.
Some other spices that are known to fight cancer are oregano, basil, rosemary, parsley, thyme and cayenne pepper. Ginger and garlic are also good. Try to include these spices in your daily meals.
When grilling meats, try to add fresh rosemary to the meat before applying heat. This is supposed to reduce the bad toxins that get released when meat is cooked at high temperatures. Aside from that, it tastes really good.
Buying organic beef and chicken is recommended because eating organic helps us have a healthy liver and digestive system. The high B vitamins help balance hormones in the body and counteract the bad effects of prescription drugs, alcohol, high triglyceride levels, obesity and viral infections.
What do you think?
As I write this post, I am reminded of the things I should be eating every day. Like everybody else, I start with good intentions but sometimes fall off the wagon and go back to unhealthy foods I like. It’s ok. I forgive myself and get myself back on track. I hope this serves as a short, helpful guide for you and I hope it reminds you as well to get back to a healthy diet. May you have a long and healthy life.