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My Anti-Cancer Grocery List

About this time last year, I wrote a post for another blog called “Let Food Be Thy Medicine.” It was mostly about the commercialization of breast cancer and how promoting potentially cancer-causing foods like high-fat Kentucky Fried Chicken and hormone-laden Yoplait Yogurt just because their packages sport a pink ribbon during the month of October might not be the best way to make people aware of (or find a cure for) the disease. While I do think, on balance, the pink ribbons do more good than harm, I wish the focus of all that pink-mojo and awareness would shift toward educating people about things we can all be doing — while researchers continue to look for a cure — on a daily basis to protect us and our families from cancer. And the first place I would start is by promoting anti-cancer foods — even though the blueberries and broccoli aren’t tied with pink ribbons.

Before he passed away in 2011, Dr. David Servan-Schreiber, M.D., Ph.D., staved off a brain tumor for 20 years. During that time he wrote AntiCancer: A New Way of Life. The book is a detailed story of the author’s own diagnosis and how it led him to study the affects of diet and lifestyle on cancer, plus a prescription for leading an anti-cancer life. If you don’t feel inclined to pick up a copy, you can take a minute to check out Servan-Schreiber’s list of “20 New AntiCancer Rules.” The rules — including switch to whole grains, cut down on sugar, and choose organic whenever possible — are pretty much a good idea even if you don’t believe it’s possible to prevent cancer.

Or at the very least, you can have my anti-cancer grocery list. I came up with this list by reading many studies on cancer-fighting foods — some of these foods fight inflammation, which fuels cancer growth; some are high in antioxidants, which block cancer-promoting free radicals; some detoxify the body; and some just put up a good fight against the disease — all without any side-effects. My research left me with a very long list, which I then pared down to things my family likes and I know how to cook. Thus, we have sweet potatoes and curry but not much tempeh. It’s not all we eat of course, but it is pretty easy to add these to your diet.

My Anti-Cancer Grocery List

  • Blueberries (anti-oxidants)
  • Cranberries (same)
  • Yogurt (probiotics; buy plain & organic)
  • Green Tea (I wish I liked this…)
  • Rainbow chard (here’s a delicious way to make it)
  • Tomatoes (we’d be eating these anyway, especially in this)
  • Flax seed (omega-3; add to smoothies)
  • Garlic and onions (add these to just about anything you cook)
  • Carrots (try this)
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Squash
  • Broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower (cruciferous veggies contain cancer-protective compounds)
  • Beans (lean protein)
  • Tumeric (the main spice in curries)
  • Pomegranates (anti-oxidants)
  • Walnuts (omega-3)
  • Edamame (natural soy contains phytoestrogen)
  • Chicken (organic and free range; this is a good source of lean protein)

While I’m on the subject of shopping, I have to admit I kind of have my eye on these.

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This post has 5 comments

  • Robyn Dino says:

    Thanks for a thoughtful approach. Can you address the hormones in yo plait yogurt?

    • Hi Robyn,
      I stand corrected. Yoplait (very recently) stopped using milk containing the rbGH bovine growth hormone for its yogurt. It still does, however, contain gelatin (made from animal carcasses), High Fructose Corn Syrup (AND added sugar), corn starch, and artificial colors and other colorings such as carmine (made from crushed beetles). Yoplait has 27 grams of sugar per serving! For comparison, regular Greek yogurt has a very short list of ingredients: milk.

  • Lisa Jason says:

    Fabulous Anti-Cancer eating article! We need to see more stuff like this. I am a holistic health coach and often refer your blog to clients. I think it is gorgeous and spot on when it comes to eating theory. Bravo!

  • ben says:

    -blueberries and cranberries are ok, but blackberries and raspberry and other berries of their family have more anticancer stuff. they are especially good vs skin cancers….

    – green tea is good, white tea is batter, but even black common is good. tea is a multiplier (synergy) for some other anticancer groceries, making mushrooms and parsley even better vs cancer. (from base 10% up to 80% better vs breast cancer for mushrooms with tea.)

    tomatoes and carrots are far better cooked than raw. tomatoes it changes compounds to make more anticancer, and carrots have sealed up their benefits so you need cooking to get the full value. (great recipes, btw!)

    flax seed is not anticancer, it is for heart. it can actually increase cancer…..

    garlic and onions are great – if eaten raw. cooking breaks down many of their anticancer compounds. if you have to cook them, make it brief.

    -Broccoli, brussel sprouts, and cauliflower, spinach, kale, green beans – all have time sensitive anticancer compounds. examples – broccoli looses 30% of anticancer per day since harvested, another green beans looses 20% per day. get the very fresh, or frozen – freezing stops the deterioration of the compounds, and usually is within a day.
    oh, and don’t cook these either too long, like onions these lose effectiveness with heat. but like carrots you need to cook them some, otherwise you can not get the full benefits. tricky.

    – beans are not just protein, they also have anticancer betacarotene and fiber, great vs colon cancer. eating daily beans is #1 cause of longer life.
    another great anti colon cancer food is sourkraut, but only if it is the fermented kind, not the canned, it is the fermentation that creates 3 anticancer from 1 of cabbage.

    – Tumeric is great, but other spices ans herbs are too. rosemary(vs skin), parsley(vs lung if not just a sprig, but a hand full), basil, oregano, majoram, thyme, peppers(if not over done), mustard, cinnamon, and more are all good.

    – chicken is ok, but oily fish is better – like tuna, sardines, salmon, trout.

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