15 Foods That Help Fight Skin Cancer
Discover healthy eats that can reduce your risk of skin cancer in this section of HealWithFood.org's Guide to Skin Cancer and Diet. And the best thing is, the skin cancer fighting foods listed below are not only crammed with skin cancer fighting nutrients, they are also loaded with flavor!
Note: Skin cancer is a serious disease and requires immediate medical attention. The information below and elsewhere on this website has not been reviewed by medical professionals, nor is it intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical or health advice. Always seek the advice of a professional health care provider.
Children have long been encouraged by their mothers to eat their carrots — and for a reason. The health benefits of carrots are wide and varied – thanks to the truckload of nutrients these yummy root veggies offer. Carrots are also an important vegetable to include in your diet if you are worried about developing skin cancer. Because of their high beta-carotene content, carrots are great at protecting the skin against harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Carrots with the deepest, darkest color have the most beta-carotene. When buying carrots, it is advisable to choose organically grown produce whenever possible as conventionally grown carrots typically contain high levels of pesticides and chemicals.
See Also: 10 Healthy Ways to Eat Carrots
Turmeric, a spice that gives its yellow color to curries and many other foods, has long been used in traditional Asian medicine to treat a vast range of conditions and diseases. In recent years, also western medicine has started to pay greater attention to this extraordinary root plant of the ginger family, and evidence suggests this Asian spice might be one of the best skin cancer fighting foods there is. Research has shown that turmeric possesses a variety of anti-cancer properties that may make it effective against many types of cancer. It has been shown to successfully induce apoptosis, a process that triggers the self-destruction of cancerous cells, without damaging healthy cells. Turmeric may also be able to prevent nitrosamine formation and inhibit aflatoxin production, both of which have been associated with an increased risk of cancer.
#3: Green Tea
Green tea is commonly used as a weight loss aid, but the health benefits of green tea are not limited to its fat burning effects. Scientific evidence suggests that green tea may also help prevent many types of cancer, including skin cancer. Catechins, the same compounds that are responsible for green tea's weight loss promoting properties, have been shown to be highly effective at protecting cells against DNA damage caused by free radicals. When buying green tea, choose loose tea leaves instead of tea bags as the release of catechins is better from loose leaves. You may also want to add a bit of lemon juice or other vitamin C rich juice to your tea — scientific evidence suggests that vitamin C can increase the amount of catechins available for the body to absorb.
Not only are raspberries packed with flavor, they are also loaded with powerful skin cancer fighting compounds. One of the most interesting compounds in raspberries is ellagic acid, a natural anti-carcinogen, anti-mutagen, and an inhibitor of cancer. In some cases, it has also been able to cause apoptosis (cell death) in cancer cells. Ellagic acid is found in a number of foods, red raspberries being by far the best source of this miraculous substance (1,500 mcg per gram of dry weight fruit extract). Further, the ellagic acid found in red raspberries retains its potency through heating and freezing. So, regardless of whether you eat your raspberries fresh, frozen or heated, you will reap their skin cancer fighting benefits.
#5: Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes, one of the oldest vegetables known to man, are one of the most nutritious vegetables and contain plenty of nutrients with skin cancer fighting properties. The pink, orange, and yellow varieties are one of the most concentrated food sources of beta-carotene (the more intense the color, the more beta-carotene), but sweet potatoes are also an excellent source of vitamin C. What's more, they contain unique root proteins which, according to preliminary studies, may have significant antioxidant activity. In addition, sweet potatoes are typically low in pesticides, even the non-organically grown produce.
These creamy, green fruits have long been touted for their contribution to beautiful skin, but they can also contribute to healthy skin. Avocados are brimming with nutrients that are thought to reduce the risk of skin cancer. Together with asparagus, avocados top the list of the best dietary sources of glutathione, an important antioxidant. Avocados are also an excellent source of vitamin E and a good source of vitamin C. As an bonus, avocados are typically low in pesticides.
#7: Shiitake Mushrooms
Shiitake mushrooms, a staple in Chinese cuisine, can make a great addition to your anti-skin cancer diet. They are a great source of selenium, with 1 cup providing more than half of the recommended daily intake for this anti-cancer mineral. Furthermore, shiitake mushrooms are one of the best sources of beta-glucans. According to some human studies, beta-glucans can help fight cancer — including skin cancer — by passing immune cells into the cancerous area and by destroying cancer cells. The anti-tumor and anti-cancer properties of beta-glucans have also been observed in several animal tests. Shiitake mushrooms, which boast a delicious meaty flavor, are well suited for adding a meaty touch to vegetarian dishes.
Watercress, which makes a nice addition to salads and sandwiches, is an anti-cancer food par excellence. Research suggests that eating fresh watercress daily can significantly reduce blood cell DNA damage. DNA damage in blood cells is an indicator of a person's overall cancer risk. Watercress contains a special mustard oil called phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC) which has significant cancer fighting powers. But the anti-cancer properties of watercress may also be attributable to its high concentration of vitamin C, beta-carotene, and lutein. One study found that consumption of watercress increased study participants' blood levels of lutein and beta-carotene by 100% and 33%, respectively. Watercress is available in larger supermarkets year round, but you can also grow your own crop at home.
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