… they’re good for your heart. But there are many more foods out there that are too! As February is American Heart Month and and National Cancer Prevention Month, this post is all about foods that support heart health and have antioxidant properties.

But first, how? Although it is widely accepted that some foods have cancer-fighting properties, it is inconclusive on exactly which foods in particular can prevent or stop cancer. Certain foods, like fruits and veggies, contain antioxidants like vitamin C and beta carotene. Studies have shown that individuals who eat meals rich in fruits and veggies have a lower risk of developing cancer. Phytochemicals are also found in leafy greens, for example, and can induce a protective barrier against other harmful substances in food or the environment. In general, eating meals that are whole-food and plant-based are the greatest protective barrier in cancer prevention. There are also some foods that have been studied to cause cancer. Here are a few food items for both:

FOODS THAT “FIGHT” CANCER

  • Garlic – fights bacteria that can cause ulcers and stomach cancers
  • Cruciferous veggies – this includes broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale which all have glucosolinates and sulphoraphane which are protective enzymes and a detoxifying agent.
  • Tomatoes – great preventative for prostate cancer and heart disease due to lycopene, an antioxidant that protects cells from damage
  • Greens – Spinach, and other leafy greens, are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, which both remove free radicals from the body. They also contain folate which helps your body produce new cells
  • Whole Grains –  these items contain an antioxidant called ignans and saponins which prevent cancer cells from multiplying. Wheat bread is not whole wheat! Look for the “whole grain label” and whole grain as the first ingredient!
  • Carrots – contain the antioxidant beta-carotene which do more than just “protect your eyes” it helps protect cell membranes from toxin damage

FOODS THAT HAVE BEEN LINKED TO CANCER

  • Processed Meat- sausage, salami, ham, corned beef, jerky largely caused by the nitrates (carcinogen) used to cure the meat
  • Alcohol- when you drink, your liver breaks down alcohol into acetaldehyde, a carcinogenic
  • Sugary foods- high sugar or refined carbs diets can put you at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes which cause oxidative stress and put your body at risk of developing certain cancers, like ovarian, breast, and uterine.

Remember, adding a cancer-preventing food to your diet once a day isn’t going to undo other choices. However, eating a diet rich in plant-based foods such as vegetables and whole grains is a safer bet.