Having been a nutritionist for 25 years, I can confidently say that most people already know the nutrition essentials, including: eating more fruits and vegetables, drinking green tea and plenty of water, and eating a good breakfast can give your health a boost. But there are some little-known dietary secrets to help protect yourself against cancer that I’d like to share with you. Here are some of my top picks:
Boost the Heart-Healing and Anti-Cancer Powers of Tomatoes: While you may be eating tomatoes to take advantage of the heart-healing and anti-cancer properties of the phytonutrient lycopene, you can easily ramp up your lycopene intake and absorption by using a few simple tricks: choose orange tomatoes over red and yellow since orange tomatoes actually have higher amounts of lycopene. And, while cooking tomatoes improves the absorption of lycopene, you can also maximize the absorption of this nutritional powerhouse by drizzling a small amount of extra virgin olive oil over your tomatoes. The addition of a small amount of a healthy fat like olive oil significantly increases lycopene’s absorption.
Maximize the Power of Synergy: Both the mineral selenium and the phytonutrient sulforaphane have extensive research-backed anti-cancer properties. To reap the best cancer protection, an exciting study in the medical journal Nutrition Research found that combining these nutrients significantly boosts their effects. Sulforaphane is found in cruciferous vegetables including: broccoli and broccoli sprouts, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and boy choy. Selenium is found in Brazil nuts, oysters, tuna (often contaminated with mercury), sunflower seeds, crimini mushrooms and rye (bread or whole, sprouted grains). Eating a source of each nutrient together will give your body an anti-cancer boost. For example, toss raw, unsalted sunflower seeds over your cooked broccoli or saute shaved Brussels sprouts with sliced crimini mushrooms.
Choose Fermented Cruciferous Vegetables over Non-Fermented Ones: You may already know that cruciferous vegetables are excellent for health, particularly for their anti-cancer properties. But, if you want to improve their cancer-fighting capacity, choose sauerkraut or other fermented cruciferous vegetables over raw or cooked ones. During the fermentation process, nutrients known as glucosinolates found in cabbage are transformed into more biologically-active anti-cancer nutrients known as isothiocyanates. If you are trying to prevent or reverse cancer, eating sauerkraut with live cultures is significantly more effective than just eating non-fermented cruciferous vegetables.
Spice Up Your Green Tea for Great Results: Green tea is well-known for its anti-cancer compounds like epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), but according to research in the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, you can boost its cancer-fighting ability 100 times with the addition of one other ingredient. Add some freshly-minced chili pepper or crushed dried chili to your green tea to maximize your cancer protection. Chilis contain compounds known as vanilloids, which are similar to better-known compounds called capsaicin. Combined with EGCG, vanilloids significantly boost green tea’s anti-cancer fighting capacity. Yes, your tea will have some kick, but the combination makes an excellent beverage hot or iced. I added a bit of fresh lemon juice and the naturally-sweet herb stevia for a delicious iced tea.
Eat Miso Regularly to Reduce Your Risk of Cancer: Research shows that regular consumption of miso—fermented soy, chickpea or rice depending on the variety you choose—can help prevent or treat adenocarcinomas, which are a type of cancer that affects the lung, prostate, breast and colon cancers. Rather than just eat miso in soup, which kills many of its beneficial properties, try it raw blended with a little oil and lemon juice for a delicious salad dressing. Raw, unsalted cashews soaked in water for at least a few hours blended with a tablespoon of miso makes a delicious vegetable dip or sandwich spread.