5 Vegetables to Lower Your Risk of Cancer (And How to Eat Them)
Written By: Taylor Rao
Nobody likes to hear the “C” word...cancer. And with all the different kinds, treatments and word-of-mouth you hear from friends and family who have been there before, there’s an information overload when it comes to what you can learn about where cancer comes from and how you can decrease your risk of certain types. So much information, in fact, that it can become overwhelming (and a little scary) to think that everything you do or don’t do could have an impact on your health.
But we all know that diet plays a major role in overall health and wellness on a daily basis, and while many might think of the short-term benefits (i.e. losing weight, having more energy), a healthy diet can also have some serious long-term effects too, like lowering your risk of certain types of cancers.
About 20 percent of U.S. cancer diagnoses are due to diet and a lack of physical activity, according to the American Cancer Society. And while yes, cancers are a genetic disease, less than 10 percent of cancers are passed directly from a parent. So, a lot of it is up to you when it comes to building out a healthy lifestyle that can keep you covered from major diseases in the long run.
Doctors’ orders have been to eat vegetables every night for as long as we can remember, right? So don’t stop now. These five vegetables deserve a spot on your plate for more reasons than one (and yes, you can still eat some sweets after if you keep these in your diet regularly).
What’s in them: Carrots are an antioxidant rich vegetable and also a superfood, meaning that basically any amount of this vegetable in your diet is going to help you out in positive ways. The beta-carotene in carrots is said to reduce risks of lung cancer and colon cancer, and the Vitamin A that’s attributed to helping your eyesight is the carrot’s original claim to fame.
Types of cancer it can help prevent: colon, lung, prostate, and stomach cancer
How to eat: Grab yourself a bag of baby carrots and eat a handful as a midday snack. If eating veggies solo doesn’t sound appealing to you, pair it with a roasted red pepper hummus or a cucumber and dill yogurt dip.
What’s in them: Broccoli is the king of the cruciferous vegetables when it comes to being a preventative against cancer, all thanks to sulforaphane --a compound that helps your body by boosting the amount of protective enzymes in your system, which can then rid your body of certain cancer-causing chemicals.
Types of cancer it can help prevent: not specific
How to eat: Nobody likes raw broccoli, do they? If you do, we’ll send the clapping emoji your way, but if you don’t, add a few pieces of broccoli to your morning omelet and pair it with some other vegetables like tomato, onion and spinach to get your daily dose of superfoods.
3. Chili Peppers
What’s in them: If spicy foods aren’t your thing, adding chili peppers to your shopping list could be tough --but it’s an ingredient called capsaicin that could change your mind about eating them. Capsaicin can decrease the chances of your body growing a specific type of cancer cell that leads to breast cancer, one of the highest diagnosed types of cancer.
Types of cancer it can help prevent: breast cancer
How to eat: Grill or bake some naan bread to go along with a homemade harissa dip using just a few simple, fresh ingredients. (Or, just buy some from the culinary experts at Tara Kitchen for just $10.)
What’s in them: Lycopene, the main ingredient in ketchup is the reason why this vegetable is linked to having protective effects against cancer. Now, this doesn’t mean adding a ton of ketchup to your greasy Five Guys burger is going to do the trick, but believe it or not, the amount of lycopene in processed tomato products can be higher than what you’d find in a tomato right off the vine, according to HealthLine. But a quick rule of thumb for the grocery store is the redder the tomato, the more lycopene it contains.
Types of cancer it can help prevent: prostate, lung and stomach cancer
How to eat: If your overall goal is not only to lower your risk of cancer but to promote a healthy lifestyle all around, ditch the Heinz and try out an organic ketchup like Tessemae’s. Organic ketchup has no added sugar and is also vegan, gluten free and non-GMO. (PS: It’s keto diet and Whole30 approved, too.)
What’s in them: Peas contain coumetarol and plant protease inhibitors such as Bowman-Birk Inhibitors that can control the formation and progression of tumors in the body. Now, that sounds pretty technical, so all you really need to know is if you can work one cup of green peas into your diet as often as possible, you can lower your risk of certain types of cancers as well as type 2 diabetes.
Types of cancer it will help prevent: colon cancer
How to eat: Stick with the healthier vibe and grab some black bean noodles instead of regular pasta to create a black bean pasta with peas. Plus, this dish is budget friendly and a great last-minute meal, since the frozen peas in your freezer or canned ones tucked away in a cabinet will do just the trick.