Summer is the perfect season to enjoy colorful, cooling fruits, rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients. But did you know the dark reds, bright oranges and deep purples that line the produce section this time of year are rich in cancer-fighting phytochemicals? AICR’s (American Institute For Cancer Research) expert report found that eating a variety of fruits can lower risk for oral, esophageal, lung and stomach cancers; and diets high in fiber can help protect against colorectal cancer.
We picked some cancer-fighting favorites that you can find fresh now.
- They are an excellent source of vitamins C and K and the mineral manganese. These berries are also considered to be antioxidant powerhouses because of their phytochemical content.
- Anthocyanins, catechins, quercetin, kaempferol and other flavonoids give these berries their blue color and help decrease free radical damage to DNA that can lead to cancer.
- In cell studies these compounds helped decrease growth and stimulate self-destruction of mouth, breast, colon and prostate cancer cells.
- Try it like this: Blueberry Pancakes
- This staple of summertime contains vitamins C, A and potassium.
- It’s also rich in lycopene, a potent antioxidant that research shows may help protect against prostate cancer.
- Watermelon is a great food for weight control. A single one-cup serving can satisfy a sweet tooth with just 49 calories, making it one of the fruits least concentrated in sugar and calories.
- Try it like this: Watermelon Granita
- Peaches contain potassium and vitamin C.
- A medium peach has only 58 calories, but packs 2g of fiber, making it ideal for weight control.
- The bright orange color comes from beta-carotene, which may help reduce inflammation, improve immune function, protect DNA and help control cell growth in ways that may reduce cancer risk.
- A good source of fiber, vitamin C and manganese these berries weigh in at just over 40 calories a serving so they won’t break the belt.
- Strawberries contain ellagic acid, a phytochemical that has shown the ability to decrease growth and stimulate soft-destruction of mouth, breast, cervical, colon and prostate cancer cells.
- Research suggests that ellagic acid seems to utilize several different cancer-fighting methods at once: it acts as an antioxidant, it helps the body deactivate specific carcinogens and it helps slow the reproduction of cancer cells.
- Both red and green grape skins are rich in resveratrol, a phytochemical that has shown antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Laboratory research points to resveratrol’s ability to slow the growth of cancer cells and inhibit the formation of tumors in skin, liver, colon, prostate, lung and breast cells.
- Red wine also contains significant amounts of resveratrol, however alcohol consumption has been linked to cancer of the breast, esophagus, mouth, pharynx and larynx.
- Try it like this: Grilled Fruit Salad that has grapes, watermelon, pineapple, peaches and strawberries.
Variety Is Key
It’s important to remember that no single food or food component can protect you against cancer by itself. But strong evidence does show that a diet filled with a variety of plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans helps lower risk for many cancers.