antioxidant Archives - NFCR


The Amazing Antioxidants in Artichokes

Often seen on menus in dips or on the top of salads, artichokes are a superfood in every sense of the word. They are a naturally rich source of vitamins A, K, C, B-6, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folate, calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium, phosphorous and zinc.

Research has shown that artichokes can help strengthen the immune system, lower cholesterol, detoxify the liver and may also protect against cancer, diabetes, heart attacks and strokes. Artichokes are high in fiber and can help ease digestive issues, reduce blood pressure and even eliminate hangovers.[i]

Cancer-Preventing Antioxidants

Artichokes contain the highest levels of antioxidants of any vegetable (polyphenols, flavonoids, anthocyanins among others) and are loaded with an army of beneficial nutrients that can protect the body from cancer.
One artichoke supplies 25% of the recommended daily requirement of vitamin C. Studies have shown that people with high intakes of vitamin C from fruits and vegetables might have a lower risk of getting many types of cancer, including lung, breast and colon cancer.[ii]

Artichokes are also a great source of silymarin, a flavonoid antioxidant that may help prevent skin cancer.[iii]

Adding Artichokes to Your Diet

It’s easy to start eating more artichokes — you can grill them, bake them, add them to your favorite salads or pasta or team them up with spinach to make a delicious cancer-fighting dip.

Super Spinach & Artichoke Dip

Adapted from a recipe by the Mayo Clinic Staff


  • 2 cups artichoke hearts
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 4 cups chopped spinach
  • 1 teaspoon minced thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced parsley
  • 1 cup white beans, prepared
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup low-fat sour cream


  • Mix all ingredients together.
  • Put in glass or ceramic dish and bake at 350˚ F for 30 minutes.
  • Serve with whole-grain bread, crackers or vegetables for dipping.




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Top Nutrition Tips to Cut Your Cancer Risk


March is National Nutrition Month, so let’s talk about some cancer-fighting benefits of making healthy food choices. What you eat and what you don’t eat has a powerful effect on your health. Maintaining a healthy weight and nourishing your body with certain foods is key to good health and to reducing your risk of cancer.

Although there’s no one diet program that is right for everyone, it’s important to have some sort of healthy-eating plan. So, put your best fork forward with these five cancer-fighting strategies.

1. Know your healthy weight & maintain it

People who are overweight or obese have a higher risk of many serious health conditions, including cancers. To control weight gain, it’s about knowing what weight is healthy for you and maintaining that weight. (No, a few pounds here or there shouldn’t lead to extreme dieting, but knowing yourself and your ideal body weight is key.)

Maintaining a healthy weight throughout life can lower your risk of breast, uterine, prostate, lung, colon, kidney, pancreatic, esophageal, multiple myeloma, gallbladder, gastric, ovarian and thyroid cancers.

2. Replace one processed item a day with real food

Processed foods aren’t just microwavable meals – the term ‘processed food’ applies to foods that have been altered from their natural state in some way (and it can be for a variety of reasons, including safety, aesthetic desirability and convenience). Ingredients such as salt, sugar and fat are often added to processed foods, which leads to the consumption of these additives at more than the recommended amount.

But a few simple swaps can make a big difference in how you look and feel – and can also help lower your risk of cancer.
* Grab an apple or an orange instead of cookies.
* Substitute cucumbers and baby carrots for crackers. (Dip them hummus for a tasty treat!)
* Replace soda with a glass of water or sparkling water. Water helps your body get rid of toxins that put you at risk for diseases like cancer.

(Bonus tip – the perimeter of the supermarket usually contains natural foods and the center aisles contain processed foods… so stay on the border to stay healthier.) 

3. Add superfoods to your diet

Superfoods are nutrient powerhouses that contain large doses of cancer-fighting antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
* Add dark green veggies like spinach, broccoli and kale to your salads and omelets.
* Snack on a handful of raw almonds or roasted pumpkin seeds instead of a bag of chips.
* Also, check out some of our favorite cancer-fighting recipes that contain superfoods.

4.  Limit red and processed meats

Research shows that people who eat more red meat (beef, pork and lamb) and processed meats (like bacon, sausage, hot dogs and salami) have a higher risk of developing colorectal and prostate cancers. Although there is not scientific consensus, the observed increased risk is often explained by the high iron and fat content in red meat and/or the salt and nitrates in processed meat. Additionally, cooking meats at a very high temperature can create chemicals on your food that may increase your cancer risk.
Need some red meat alternatives? Try some of our favorite cancer-fighting recipes like Rainbow Salsa (with grilled fish or chicken) and Pumpkin Soup (with a Garlic, Kale and Sesame Topping).

5. Reduce your alcohol intake

Although moderate alcohol use has possible health benefits, it’s also not risk-free. Excessive use can cause liver damage, heart problems and even cancer. To reduce your lifetime risk of cancer, NFCR recommends: On average, men should not consume more than 2 drinks per day and women should not consume more than 3 drinks per week


Preventative Cancer Research

A proactive way to reduce the number of patients dying from cancer is to prevent the disease from developing in the first place. That’s why NFCR-sponsored researchers have been investigating cancer prevention methodologies – and specifically links between nutrition and cancer – for decades. 

Scientist Dr. Helmut Sies¸ whose work was funded by NFCR for over 30 years, discovered that the antioxidant lycopene, a micronutrient found in tomatoes and other foods, can reduce the damaging effects of oxygen produced by our body’s essential metabolic processes. Lycopene has strong skin cancer prevention effects. His more recent research was focused on selenium, a trace metal found in certain foods that is essential for good health. There is evidence that selenium improves human health and helps prevent cancer – specifically colon cancer.  *Prevention tip: Read about how to add selenium to your diet.

Additionally, during his career, Dr. Sies studied essential fatty acids that can prevent inflammation and cellular signaling pathways in cancer development, and looked at the role of nitric oxide in cancer and heart disease-related events.


Dr. Michael Sporn, whose research was supported by NFCR, is known as the “Father of Chemoprevention” because his work led to the development of several synthetic triterpenoid compounds. These compounds are a class of chemical agents that have potent preventative effects against several types of cancer, including breast, lung and pancreatic cancers.

For individuals with a family history (or are otherwise at high risk of developing these diseases), the promising results of Dr. Sporn’s research offers hope that their chances of developing cancer could be dramatically reduced with the use of chemoprevention.

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Decadent, Delicious, Disease-Preventing Dark Chocolate

Valentine’s Day is a perfect time to celebrate your love with a food many love – chocolate. After all, chocolate tops most people’s favorite foods list, and it turns out there are some good health reasons in addition to the good taste reasons.  Chocolate – especially dark chocolate – is good for you.

Research shows that chocolate can reduce the risk of heart disease, lower cholesterol, prevent blood clots, improve memory and may even reduce the risk of cancer.[i] And, contrary to popular belief, research shows chocolate doesn’t ruin your complexion.

In the post below, don’t miss a unique chocolate truffle recipe!

dark chocolate barNot All Chocolates are Created Equal

While all chocolates contain antioxidants called flavonoids, dark chocolate and its main ingredient, cocoa, provide more health benefits than milk chocolate or white chocolate.
The stronger and darker the chocolate, the more flavonoids it contains and the more health benefits it provides.

For maximum health benefits when buying chocolate, look for:

  • Dark chocolate blocks with at least 70% cocoa solids.
  • Raw cacao or cocoa powder.
    One gram of cocoa contains over 30 mg of flavanols, whereas one gram of dark chocolate contains approximately 12.5 mg.To learn more about cocoa, read our blog post Cancer-Fighting Cocoa.
  • Cacao nibs, which are crushed, raw cacao beans. You can use these in place of chocolate chips in items like cookies, trail mixes or smoothies.

Cocoa & Skin Cancer Research

Helmut Sies, M.D., a biochemist at Heinrich-Heine-Universitat in Dusseldorf, Germany, is a leading cancer prevention expert and received funding from NFCR for his nutrition-focused cancer research. Dr. Sies’ key research breakthrough on micronutrients involves his discovery that lycopene – a carotenoid and antioxidant found in tomatoes – can help curb the initiation of cancer. His research has also shown that flavonoids (found in cocoa products) can prevent skin damage caused by ultraviolet radiation. High flavanol cocoa – which has similar amounts of flavanols as 100gm dark chocolate – improves skin health and hydration and may reduce risk of UV-induced skin damage.

Let’s be clear: This research doesn’t mean you should start rubbing cocoa products on your skin – but it does mean there could be skin-cancer fighting properties in some sweets!

Real Food Chocolate Truffles

The Chocolate Truffles recipe below provides a healthy twist on a classic Valentine’s Day favorite. They’re easy to make and your sweetheart will LOVE them!
Adapted from Diana Keuilian

chocolate balls

  • 2 cups pecans, toasted
  • 1 cup dates, pitted and soaked in hot water for 10 minutes
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon raw honey, melted
  • Melted dark chocolate
  • Unsweetened, shredded coconut flakes
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Minced dark chocolate pieces


  1. Place the pecans in a dry skillet over medium heat and toast, stirring often, until golden. Set aside to cool.
  2. Place the dates in a small bowl with hot water and cover for 10 minutes. Discard the soaking water and place the dates and cooled pecans in the food processor, along with the cocoa powder, sea salt and honey. Pulse until coarse and crumbly.
  3. Cover a tray that fits in your freezer with parchment paper. Form the dough into 30 balls and roll in the toppings of your choice.
  4. Place the truffles on the prepared pan and freeze for 15 minutes.
  5. Enjoy!

Fun Chocolate Facts

*Eating just ONE chocolate chip gives the average adult the needed energy to walk 150 feet.
*A dark chocolate bar has approximately 10-15g of sugar. A glass of orange juice has about 22g of sugar.
*Chocolate is harmful to dogs and can cause seizures and even death.
*Chocolate syrup was used to depict blood in the iconic shower scene of Hitchcock’s film “Psycho.”

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Cancer–Fighting Cocoa

Who doesn’t love chocolate? When it comes to a beloved treat, chocolate is a common favorite. But, unfortunately, there are consequences that aren’t that sweet!

Don’t get us wrong, we’re not trying to rain on your parade. The truth is there are pros and cons to the delectable delight. For example, dark chocolate contains powerful cancer-fighting antioxidants called flavanols, but also includes cocoa butter which has high levels of unhealthy saturated fat that can raise cholesterol levels and increase your risk of heart disease when consumed in excess.

Cocoa Can Help Fight Cancer

Dark chocolate and chocolate powderSo what could be a better option than dark chocolate?

When it comes to fighting cancer, the answer is simple: Cocoa!

One gram of cocoa contains over 30 mg of flavanols, whereas one gram of dark chocolate only contains approximately 12.5 mg. What’s more one ounce of dark chocolate typically contains about 170 calories, 12 grams of fat and 10 grams of sugar, while one ounce of unsweetened cocoa powder contains only 70 calories, 4 grams of fat and virtually no sugar.

Add Powdered Cocoa to Your Diet

oatmeal with cocoaBy adding powdered cocoa to your diet, you can reap its cancer-fighting benefits without the guilt.

It may taste bitter by itself, but you can simply add 2-4 Tablespoons in foods like oatmeal, smoothies or shakes to make a delicious addition to your healthy diet. You’ll find cocoa powder in the baking aisle at your local grocery store.

For more cancer-fighting food tips and recipes, visit

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Green Goddess: Healthy Anti-Cancer Smoothie Recipe



Eating a colorful diet is a good way to make sure you’re getting a variety of vitamins and nutrients that can help prevent cancers. This recipe mixes a few colors from the rainbow and ends up with the “G” in ROY G BIV.

The green goddess smoothie adds a variety of superfoods to your day; you’ll get vitamins, minerals, enzymes, fiber and antioxidants in this delicious drink.

Serves approximately 4 cups

  • 2 cups of purified water
  • 5 cups of spinach leaves
  • ½ lemon squeezed
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 granny smith apple
  • 1 ripe pear
  • (Optional) berries and/or a splash of your favorite juice or cider


  1. In a high speed blender, add all ingredients
  2. Pulse for 2-3 minutes or until items are liquefied


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