The power of food cures: Study shows foods like carrots, grapes and oranges have CANCER-FIGHTING properties By Divina Ramirez for Prevention
Carrots, grapes and oranges may contain the same anti-carcinogenic compounds found in synthetic drugs, according to a recent study published in Scientific Reports. Researchers from Imperial College London said they found evidence to suggest that fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants may help inhibit the growth of cancerous cells and tumors.
Fruits and vegetables as natural treatments of cancer
Recent data shows that 30–40 percent of all cancers may be prevented by eating healthier plant-based foods. This may be due to the presence of naturally-occurring chemicals obtained from plants, such as flavonoids, terpenoids and botanical polysaccharides. Existing research suggests that these compounds may inhibit tumor growth due to powerful anti-inflammatory properties, thereby lowering the risk of cancer.
As such, the researchers suggested that diet and nutrition may be instrumental in the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases, like cancer, cardiovascular disease and metabolic disorders. To test this hypothesis, the researchers studied the potency of flavonoids, terpenoids and botanical polysaccharides in many fruits and vegetables. To determine which foods were able to significantly reduce the risk of cancer, the researchers “fed” 7,962 bioactive molecules found within fruits and vegetables into a machine-learning algorithm designed to recognize anti-carcinogenic compounds in 199 “anti-cancer” medications. The algorithm identified 110 molecules that bore similarities in composition to the compounds found in clinically approved anti-cancer drugs from a variety of chemicals used to inhibit the growth of malignant tumors. They determined that these findings corresponded to an “anti-cancer drug likeness threshold” of more than 70 percent. Some of the fruits and vegetables found to have cancer-fighting properties were oranges, grapes, carrots, cabbage, wild celery, coriander, dill and tea. (Related: ONIONS are just as effective as chemotherapy at beating cancer.)
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The cancer-fighting benefits of plant-based foods
Many cancer-fighting compounds are measured by their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Flavonoids are a group of naturally occurring chemicals that act as powerful antioxidants capable of preventing inflammation and fortifying the body’s immune system. They are also responsible for giving most fruits and vegetables their bright, vivid colors. Moreover, flavonoids may also play an important role in controlling abnormal cell replication and malignant tumor growth.
Citrus fruits, like oranges, lemons and grapefruits, are rich sources of the flavonoid dydimin. Dydimin has been shown to have strong antioxidant properties capable of inhibiting the growth of cancer cells. Dydimin is also abundant in herbs like coriander, parsley and dill. Additionally, citrus fruits also contain beta-elemene. Beta-elemene is the main active component of Curcuma zedoaria, a widely used herb in traditional Chinese medicine known for its chemopreventive activities. As such, beta-elemene has been shown to arrest abnormal cell replication and induce apoptosis, or cell death, in malignant tumors.
Meanwhile, tea leaves were found to have strong anti-carcinogenic properties due to the presence of the antioxidant catechin. One prospective study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology showed that green tea consumption was associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer in Japanese men due to high amounts of catechin.
Carrots, on the other hand, are abundant in beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is a type of carotenoid, which belongs to the group of organic compounds known as terpenoids. Various types of terpenoids play important roles in traditional herbal remedies. For instance, many medicinal plants and foods that contain terpenoids, such as ginger, cinnamon and Ginkgo biloba, can prevent viral and bacterial infections and suppress inflammation. Beta-carotene, in particular, can arrest the growth of cancerous cells due to its antioxidant properties. Moreover, the researchers found that carrots and grapes were among the foods that showed the greatest amount of cancer-beating molecules.
Many fruits and vegetables possess anti-carcinogenic properties. Including plenty of these in your diet may help lower the risk of various cancers.