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Colorful, delicious, and an excellent source of nutrition, fruits and vegetables are essential to anyone’s everyday diet. They are extremely important in preventing chronic diseases such as cancer. Since the different colors in fruits and vegetables help our immune system react to different stresses in our daily life, it is important to eat a wide variety of colorful fruits and veggies. Containing tons of antioxidants and minerals, an orange or some carrot sticks are perfect snacks throughout your day. Here are some recommendations from nutrition whiz Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, author of The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth.
This is truly an amazing food. Yes, they are high in fat, but the fat is largely monounsaturated fat which actually lowers cholesterol. Avocados are also high in beta-sistosterol, a natural substance shown to significantly lower blood cholesterol and is also highly protective of the prostate. They also contain lutein, a valuable member of the carotenoid family that is a natural antioxidant and helps your eyes stay healthy while maintaining the health of your skin. Yes, there are a few grams of saturated fat in an avocado, but it’s precisely the kind of saturated fat I’m not afraid of. It’s from a natural whole food, and quite different from the saturated fat you might find in an order of fries.
Berries and Cherries
All berries, blueberries, cherries, raspberries, strawberries, are considered to be health bonanzas! Blueberries are the highest-scoring fruit of all time according to the ORAC test (a rating system for antioxidant power). Cherries are loaded with anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, and anticancer compounds. Raspberries deserve a place of honor for no other reason than the fact that they are a high-fiber powerhouse. And strawberries contain compounds that may also protect your brain and memory. All these berries contain chemicals found to protect cells against cervical and breast cancer. Best part is, they all taste great and make wonderful additions to fresh smoothies and fruit juices.
Broccoli is a vegetable royalty. It is a member of the brassica family of cruciferous vegetables—the same group that includes bok choy, cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, and Swiss chard. These vegetables are excellent sources of a family of anticancer phytochemicals called isothiocyanates, which fight cancer by neutralizing carcinogens—the “bad guys” of the cancer battle. Even apart from its demonstrated cancer-fighting ability, broccoli is a nutritional powerhouse. One cup contains more than 2 g of protein, 2 g of fiber, 288 mg of potassium, 43 mg of calcium, 81 mg of vitamin C, plus folate, magnesium, phosphorus, beta-carotene, vitamin A, and 1,277 mcg of the superstars of eye nutrition, lutein and zeaxanthin.
The health benefits of watercress have been known since ancient times. It is a member of the brassica family of cruciferous vegetables, which are known to be excellent sources of a family of anticancer phytochemicals called isothiocyanates. Studies have shown that isothiocyanates help prevent lung and esophageal cancer and can lower the risk of other cancers, including gastrointestinal cancer. Watercress is unique among the cruciferous vegetables in that it contains hight concentrations of one particularly potent isothiocyanate, PEITC (phenylethyl isothiocyanate). It also contains another group of compounds with anticancer potential belonging to the sulforaphane family. Research shows that the potent combination of PEITC and sulforaphanes had a “triple whammy” effect; zapping cancer cells by inducing their death (apoptosis), stopping potential carcinogens from becoming active, and stimulating cell defenses against assaults from carcinogens.
Not really sprouts at all, Brussels sprouts are actually members of the cabbage family, which makes sense since that’s exactly what they look like. Cabbages in general probably contain more cancer-fighting nutrients than any other vegetable family. Brussels sprouts contain a chemical called sinigrin, which suppreses the development of precancerous cells. The breakdown product of sinigrin is the active ingredient in Brussels sprouts and is responsible for the characteristic smell of sprouts. It works by persuading the precancerous cells to commit suicide—a natural process called apoptosis. Brussels sprouts are high in isothiocyanates and sufuraphane, which are compounds know to help fight cancer by inhibiting cell proliferation, neutralizing carcinogens, and helping to detoxify nasty environmental toxins.