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Cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada. In fact, it is responsible for 30% of all total deaths in our country. It is estimated that 2 out of 5 Canadians are expected to develop some form of cancer in their lifetimes, and 1 out of 4 of those diagnosed will die from it.

With those grim figures in mind, it is no surprise that most of us are on the constant look-out for ways to protect ourselves from the disease. Perhaps the best defence, however, is quite simply to live healthy, active lives, and there’s no better place to start than your diet. Although not a magical cure for cancer, certain food items have cancer-fighting properties. Including these in your diet, coupled with regular exercise, are sure-fire ways to decrease your risk of cancer.

A predominantly plant-based diet is ideal for warding off cancer. Meals should contain at least 2/3rd plant type foods. Amongst other health benefits, this ensures a diet low in saturated fats.

Folate-rich foods

There is a correlation between levels of folate in the body and the chances of DNA mutation. Eating folate-rich foods such as cereals, oranges and spinach may decrease your risk of pancreatic cancer by up to 50%.

Source foods

  • Cereal
  • Pasta
  • Orange
  • Spinach
  • Romaine leaves
  • Dried beans
  • Asparagus
  • Brussels sprouts
Tea

Teas contain antioxidants called flavonoids. Once such flavonoid called kaempferol has been shown to work well against cancer. Women in a study who increased their kaempferol intake showed a lower rate of ovarian cancer, and post-menopausal women had a decreased risk of breast cancer.

The recommended dose for this antioxidant to work well against cancer is an about 10-12 milligrams daily or approximately 4 cups of tea.

Source foods

  • Various types of teas
Vitamin D

Vitamin D has been known to cut the risks of breast cancer by half. It works by curbing the growth of cancerous cells in the body. It is recommended that an adult should receive a minimum daily dose of 1000 IU of vitamin D.

Source foods

  • Sunshine
  • Milk
  • Cod
  • Shrimp
  • Chinook salmon
  • Eggs
Cruciferous vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables such as kale, cabbage and Brussel sprouts have all been shown to help with the prevention of prostate and colon cancer. It is important to note however that studies have shown that these health benefits are activated only by chewing or cutting the vegetables.

Source foods

  • Kale
  • Turnip greens
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
Curcumin

Curcumin’s anti-inflammatory properties are its essential trait for fighting cancer. Recent studies have shown that curcumin suppresses the transformation and invasion of cancer cells, by disrupting cell-signalling pathways in the body. Its benefits have been shown to be effective against bladder and gastrointestinal cancer.

Source foods

  • Turmeric
  • Curry powder