cancer fighting food Archives - NFCR

cancer fighting food

Eating for Cancer Prevention

We’ve all heard about the importance of healthy eating and living for longevity, but how influential is it for cancer, specifically? Are diet and lifestyle influential enough to significantly reduce cancer formation and progression?

The answer is “yes!”

Approximately 30-40% of cancer diagnoses could be prevented by modest diet and lifestyle changes. This number increases to 90% for certain cancers, like stomach cancer. In 2017 alone, 675,512 cancer diagnoses could have been avoided!  Healthy eating is important, especially as it related to cancer. And in recognition of National Nutrition Month, this National Foundation for Cancer Research blog post will offer a deeper look into the science of this important correlation. 

Carcinogens in Food

Nutrition interacts with cancer development in many important ways. The first is through the potential introduction of carcinogenic (cancer causing) materials into the body. If carcinogenic materials are introduced into the body, these will by definition increase cancer risk. These chemicals can be thought of as toxic; their very presence is inherently contradictory to health. But there are still multiple possibly carcinogenic materials which are not yet banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Many of these are added chemicals or “additives” that are used to preserve food, alter the foods texture, or change the foods appearance.

A simple way to avoid these chemicals (without carrying around a big list) is to refrain from, or minimize, eating processed foods with ingredients that you don’t recognize or that you know aren’t whole-food based. Many times foods such as these are of low quality. They are generally low in healthy micronutrients and more refined, so the nutrients they do have are less bioavailable (nutrients aren’t able to be integrated into the body). They are also hyper-palatable so that the reward centers in the brain are extremely active during consumption, which leads to overindulgence.  Perhaps most importantly, these foods can be embedded with potentially toxic materials. Specific compounds to steer clear from are nitrates/nitrites, carrageenan, and BHA/BHT (butylated hydroxyanisole / butylated hydroxytoluene). These have all been shown to have carcinogenic properties.

Carcinogens in Digestion & Cooking

Some foods and drinks have materials in them that aren’t carcinogenic themselves but can produce carcinogenic materials during their cooking process, breakdown or detoxification. In other words, as the body processes these materials or as they’re prepared, intermediate materials are produced which are carcinogenic.

Alcohol is one such substance that can have a carcinogenic effect on the body.  Alcohol is broken down in the liver to produce a metabolite called acetaldehyde, which is considered a definite carcinogen.  Acetaldehyde is genotoxic, which means that it damages the genetic material of the cell, increasing the likelihood of mutations.

The second common potentially carcinogenic food is red meat. While there is interest in looking at the inherent carcinogenic qualities of red meat, research is not yet conclusive on this matter. For this reason, red meat is currently classified as a probable carcinogen. However, when meat is cooked at high temperatures, many known carcinogens are produced. These include heterocyclic amines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and acrylamide. These products help create some of the aroma and browning associated with cooked meat. Although tasty, these certainly do contribute to cancer; especially colorectal cancer. It is therefore much better to consume a reduced amount of red meat and cook red meat that is consumed at lower temperatures.

Cancer-Fighting Foods

Luckily, eating healthy isn’t all about avoiding foods! It’s also important to include nourishing foods with anti-cancer properties. Some of these properties include antioxidant status and micronutrient density. Antioxidants are chemicals which oppose free radicals (compounds which react uncontrollably with oxygen) by stabilizing the cell. Micronutrient density has to do with the amount of vitamins and minerals within foods. Each vitamin and mineral plays an integral role in the healthy functioning of various body tissues. Important anti-cancer micro nutrients include calcium, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin K2, vitamin D, vitamin C and the B vitamins—with are loaded with folates. Fruits and vegetables are both incredibly important to ensure that antioxidant and micronutrient status are good. Fruits and vegetables are also important for their inherent fiber which has been proven to help reduce certain cancers.

Energy Balance

Another important consideration in eating for cancer prevention is energy balance. The best condition for our physical health is one where we are only consuming the calories that we need to function well. This is helpful because it can reduce the burden of digestion, detoxification and unnecessary hormonal influence.

If we don’t need the energy, why stress our bodies out more by consuming it? Such just forces our bodies to have to adjust functioning and find a place to store the excess? In addition, the added hormonal, structural, and metabolic stress of carrying extra weight can significantly influence our overall health. Obesity is a major risk factor for cancer. In fact, 20% of cancers could be avoided by reducing obesity. Eating based on our needs can help us reduce waste, externally and internally. It fosters a healthy connection of our minds to our health needs and allows us to build mindfulness into our daily lives.

In Sum

There are many different components of eating for cancer prevention. Not only is it beneficial to minimizing outright carcinogen ingestion, but we also want to be aware of carcinogens which emerge as a result of cooking or detoxification.  Once we reduce the intake of these foods, we then want to increase fruits and vegetables due to their antioxidant qualities, micronutrient density and intrinsic fiber. Finally, it’s important to be aware of balancing energy demand with energy consumption. The overall goal is to eat food which can support our bodies healthy functioning and reduce our overall stress.

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References:

  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2121650/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3391950/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3773450/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4049200/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4390184/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4409470/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4808863/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23026007
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3899519
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Antioxidants: Body Balance

A 2017 epidemiological study published in Frontiers in Oncology suggests that a diet rich in antioxidants like carotenoids and vitamin C can help to prevent breast cancer and lung cancer. Antioxidants have had their fair share of press in recent years and numerous studies have been done trying to pinpoint their perceived benefits. The good news is that those benefits are plentiful and getting enough of these powerhouse elements into one’s diet is easy as their sources are bountiful and delicious. But what are antioxidants? What do they accomplish in our bodies and how do these functions translate into cancer prevention?

That’s Radical

Mention of antioxidants is usually in tandem with the term “free radicals.” Free radicals are highly reactive chemicals that have the potential and ability to harm cells. Their initial purpose is to aid in the metabolic processes, like digestion and converting food into energy. But when too many free radicals are produced, they can become a dangerous enemy.

Left unchecked, free radicals are capable of destroying enzymes, protein molecules and even complete cells. They can multiply by process of a chain reaction the byproducts of which are able to damage cell structures so profoundly that they compromise the immune system and even DNA codes are altered in a process called oxidation where they combine and react chemically with other molecules with which they were never meant to combine. Similar to a rusty nail in the rain, if the body’s cells go unprotected, impending and progressive damage occurs called “oxidative stress.”  Free radicals accelerate the aging process by breaking down collagen, creating an aged appearance in the cells of our skin, eyes, tissue, joints, heart and brain. Since they react with oxygen, they lower the oxygen supply to cells and fuel systemic inflammation leaving our immune systems vulnerable.

What Antioxidants Do

Antioxidants include beta-carotene and other carotenoids such as lycopene, vitamins A, C, and E, and other natural and manufactured substances. They protect cells from damage because they inhibit oxidation in our bodies and are specifically used to counteract the deterioration of stored food products. In short, antioxidants are the anti-free radicals, keeping the latter from having the opportunity to interact with those molecules with which they were never meant to combine. In this way antioxidants help slow the aging process, reduce inflammation and boost our immune systems. All of these benefits lessen the oxidative stress on the body.

Key to Cancer Prevention?

There have been studies which have shown that antioxidant supplements like vitamins A, C, E, folic acid and beta-carotene can help reduce the risk for certain illnesses related to oxidative stress and that these include types of cancer. A 1993 clinical trial from China found what they termed “significantly reduced” stomach cancer mortality rates in those participants who took beta-carotene, vitamin E and selenium over five-years. However, just as readily as there are studies to support the cancer counter activity of antioxidants, you will find studies that prove they can do more harm than good.

Carotenoids, an antioxidant group including beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin, are highly bioavailable in many of the foods we eat. Whereas these elements have helped with the lessening of oxidation and address other damaging effects such as blue light’s effect on the eyes, excess consumption or supplementation of these in the systems of those predisposed to or with lung cancer or mesothelioma has shown to yield adverse events.

For better or worse, the hunt for concretized proof continues as to whether or not antioxidants or, more specifically, supplements thereof, can impede the proliferation of cancer cells. Information from recent clinical trials is less clear as, in recent years, large-scale and randomized studies have reached only inconsistent conclusions. What is known is that the intake of foods already rich in antioxidants, consumed according to current dietary recommendations, does suppress free radicals. This suppression keeps the levels of inflammation lower, slows aging in the skin, eyes, tissue, joints, heart and brain, allows the immune system to function more optimally and keeps the body more consistently oxidized and refreshed.

NFCR Tie-in

Former National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR)-sponsored researcher, Dr. Helmut Sies, is a physician, scientist and a pioneer in redox biology. He is a leader in the study of carotenoids in plants and how they protect the skin and other organs from free radicals. In 1985, Dr. Sies first coined the term “oxidative stress” in a landmark paper. In 1989, he discovered that lycopene—the carotenoid antioxidant found in tomatoes and carrots—exhibits the highest antioxidant activity and singlet oxygen quenching ability of all dietary carotenoids. Lycopene has strong skin cancer prevention effects. Its antioxidation effects are greatest when tomatoes are processed as in a paste or sauce and combined with oil for the best bioavailability.  Dr. Sies’ research also illustrated how flavonoids (found in cocoa products) can prevent skin damage caused by ultraviolet radiation, improve blood vessel function and reduce cardiovascular risk.

In 2013, Dr. Helmut Sies was awarded the Linus Pauling Institute Prize for Health Research, an honor that recognizes excellence in research relating to the roles of vitamins, essential minerals and phytochemicals in promoting health, and preventing or treating disease.  The National Foundation for Cancer Research is proud to have sponsored the research program of Dr. Sies and his team from 1983 to 2016.

References:

http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/full/10.1146/annurev-biochem-061516-045037?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori%3Arid%3Acrossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub%3Dpubmed&

http://blog.dana-farber.org/insight/2017/07/can-antioxidants-prevent-cancer/

https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/antioxidants-fact-sheet

https://doi.org/10.3389/fonc.2017.00023

https://foh.psc.gov/NYCU/antioxidents.asp

http://www.holistichealthtools.com/free_radicals.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12134711

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8127329

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8360931

https://www.news-medical.net/health/What-is-Oxidative-Stress.aspx

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Healthy Eating & Lifestyle Tips for the New Year

With 2018 now at hand, many of us will resolve to reign in our eating habits until the Holiday season returns next fall. The leeway we have understandably allowed ourselves over the past few weeks so as to indulge during the Holidays will be curtailed. So we say!

 To help, the National Foundation for Cancer Research is pleased to offer easy-to-follow tips that can assist in ensuring a happier, healthier New Year, and which, over time, may reduce your risk of cancer

Staying healthy by eating well and exercising is one of the best ways to reduce your cancer risk.  NFCR recommends these tips for maintaining a healthy lifestyle over the course of the winter, and beyond:

  • Eat more vegetables and fruit, and less red meat. Choose colorful fruits and veggies.  They are filled with cancer-fighting antioxidants.  Turkey is a healthy meat choice.  To cut down on fat, remove the skin.
  • Moderate alcohol consumption. Remember that regular consumption of alcohol throughout your life can increase your cancer risk.  Men should not consume more than 2 drinks per day. To reduce the risk of breast cancer, women should not consume more than 3 drinks per week.
  • Get your greens and use healthy cooking oils. Eat spinach, broccoli, green beans and dark, leafy greens. Use healthy oils such as flax, walnut or canola.  Try drizzling vegetables with extra virgin olive oil. Delicious!
  • Eat wild salmon, tuna or mackerel. They are full of Omega-3 oils, which are great for cellular health and may help prevent cancer.
  • Go a little nuts! Nuts such as walnuts and almonds are great sources of protein and healthy fat, so they make a great filler between meals.  Don’t overdo it.  Healthy fat is still fat.
  • Avoid white starch. These are empty calories with very little nutritional value.  Your digestive system struggles to handle them.  Choose instead food made with whole wheat or multigrain flour.
  • Fiber is good! Choose whole grains, beans, barley, lentils, etc.  Dried figs, dried cranberries, and dried apricots are great sources of fiber to integrate into your meals.
  • Be aware of your sugar intake and high-fat dessert choices. Have your dessert, but keep it balanced.  Try a piece of good quality dark chocolate or a poached pear.  If you “splurge,” keep it small, and add some extra time to your regular exercise routine.
  • Drink 16 ounces of water before eating. Dehydration can be confused with hunger.  Keeping hydrated by drinking at least eight 8 oz. glasses of water daily is essential to helping your body function properly.
  • Eat a healthy snack at home before attending a party. This will help control your hunger so you don’t arrive at the party ravenous.
  • Take time out of your busy schedule to enjoy life and laugh.  It is truly the best medicine.
  • Exercise is a great way to stay healthy and prevent cancer.  Walk, jog, ride your bike, play racquetball, practice yoga—anything to get your body moving!  Exercising 5 times a week for at least 30 minutes per workout will have significant positive impacts on your life.  Start a family tradition by taking walks or bike rides and continue it throughout the year each time there is a get-together.
  • Slow Down. Eat slowly and enjoy time with family and friends.  Turn off the TV, phone, and electronics! Eating slowly gives your body time to realize it is full.  Thoroughly chewing your food helps maintain a steady rate of metabolism.
  • Get at least 7 hours of sleep and stay on your natural schedule as much as possible.  Late night eating and drinking will result in a rough night’s sleep.

In addition to these healthy tips, NFCR wants to introduce you to a powerful cancer-fighting manual, our “To Your Health” Recipe Book, filled with delicious and healthy recipes.

“To Your Health” recipes are brimming with cancer-fighting ingredients, including antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, whole grains and protein.  The cookbook also features lifestyle tips, early detection methods and other helpful information on how to further decrease your risk of cancer.  It contains more than 50 easy-to-follow recipes, ranging from soups to desserts, and everything in between.  It’s available online at https://secure.nfcr.org/page/contribute/cancer-fighting-recipe-book

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Two of Our Favorite Healthy Holiday Cookie Recipes

During the holidays, it’s easy to let your healthy eating habits slide. Tasty treats are everywhere – especially cookies. And they’re nearly impossible to resist!  To help during this copious cookie time, we’ve hand-picked two of our favorite recipes that offer a healthier take on your favorite holiday treats. These recipes use wholesome ingredients so you can feel good about snacking.

Give Pick-Me-Up Cookie Balls and Good-for-You Gingerbread Cookies a try. You won’t be disappointed.

Pick-Me-Up Cookie Balls

(Adapted from Kale & Chocolate)

INGREDIENTS:cookie-balls

1 cup cashews
½ cup pecans
½ cup walnuts
¼ cup goji berries
2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1 Tbsp coconut oil
½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp cacao nibs (pulse at the end)
Pinch of sea salt

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place the nuts in the food processor and process until the nuts are in pieces but not a powder.
  2. Add the goji berries, coconut oil, maple syrup, cinnamon, vanilla and sea salt. (Reserve cacao nibs)
  3. Combine all ingredients and process until a dough-like consistency begins to form, but there are still little chunks of nuts and goji berries remaining.
  4. Add the cacao nibs and pulse a few times to incorporate them into the dough.
  5. To make the balls: use a small scooper ( about 1 ½ inches) or roll 1 Tbsp at a time in your hands. Because the mixture is mostly nuts, it will feel oily if you roll the balls by hand. Make sure to pack the dough tightly against the scooper or in your hands before placing on a plate or tray.
  6. Put in the freezer for 30 minutes to set. Store in refrigerator up to 5 days or freezer for 2 months.

Good-for-you Gingerbread Cookies

(Adapted from Pheebs Foods)

INGREDIENTS:ginger-cookies

5 cups almond meal
1/2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of Salt
4 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2/3 cup melted coconut oil
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
4 Tbsp blackstrap molasses

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat your oven to 300°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place all dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well until the spices are evenly distributed.
  3. Whisk all wet ingredients in another bowl, adding the oil last to ensure it doesn’t harden.
  4. Pour wet mix into dry and mix well with a spoon until a dough forms – it will be a lot stickier then normal dough and a bit more fragile
  5. Turn dough out onto a well-floured board (using a small amount of white flour makes kneading easier).
  6. Form dough into a well-mixed ball. Cover in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 15 minutes.
  7. Once chilled, roll out dough to approximately 1/2 cm thick and use a cookie cutter to cut out your gingerbread men.
  8. Place onto baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes, longer depending on how crunchy or soft you like your cookies.
  9. Allow to cool fully before decorating.

For more healthy holiday ideas, read 6 Tips for Staying Healthy During the Holidays

 

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Take a Bite Out Of Cancer: Foods that Fight Cancer

Fuel is important and our choices in fuel are equally so. In plain terms, our bodies, and the immune systems they contain, are engines, and fueling them correctly is a necessary preamble to fending off a cancer diagnosis. What many fail to recognize is that most cancers function like engines, as well. This means that the “fuel” we put in our bodies ultimately determines whether we’re powering one engine or the other.

Since we know that inflammation and the biochemical balance of our bodies is key to allowing cancer cells to proliferate and grow, one core focus of our food choices needs to be avoiding those which cause inflammation or may stimulate cancer growth. Experts estimate that 30 to 40% of cancers can be staved off by healthy lifestyles and proper nutrition, so integrating proper foods into our diet is critical. 

Here are four categories of cancer-mitigating foods worth getting to know!

Eat Your Greens

Eating leafy and dark green vegetables has been shown to stimulate processes in our bodies less conducive to cancer growth and development. Cruciferous veggies contain glucosinolates, along with antibacterial and antiviral properties: all well-known to inactivate carcinogens. They are also rich in glutathione, known as the body’s “master antioxidant,” since it is most lethal to free radicals. Too, the potent chemicals in leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables are processed by our bodies into active compounds—indoles, thiocyanates and isothiocyanates—which inhibit cancer cell growth.

  • What to eat: Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts, artichokes, zucchini, onions and asparagus
  • On the go: Juicing vegetables is a great way to enjoy some their best benefits!
  • Yum: Hummus or Greek yogurts are great on the fly for a healthy snack.

Bring on the Berries

Along with the vitamin C, fiber, folate, vitamin A and ellagic acid they contribute, berries are positively delicious. Blueberries and blackberries bring the most potent antioxidants and other vitamins and minerals that really pack a punch. While raspberries derive their color from flavonoids that generally promote health and contain ellagic acid, which is currently being studied for its anti-estrogen properties and may be impactful in helping to prevent breast cancer. Strawberries provide folic acid and vitamin C, which may help beat the odds against esophageal cancer.

  • What to eat: Eat all berries! Can’t get them fresh? Your local mega-mart likely has them frozen.
  • On the go: Blend them into smoothies. Add them to Greek yogurt for an extra cancer fighting boost!
  • For kids: Add them to cereals for sweetness instead of sugary alternatives.

Orange to the Rescue

Carotenoids is the family that beta keratin comes from and it is one more super accessible and edible super detoxifier that our bodies can use to fight the risk of a future cancer diagnosis. Though rich in carbohydrates (a word much maligned), studies are proving that the right complex carbs can reduce the risk of digestive tract cancers. The rationale is that these foods contain lots of fiber, which facilitates the expulsion of toxins from our systems.

  • What to eat: Carrots, sweet potato, yams, beets and butternut squash!
  • Did you know: whole grain foods are fiber-rich, toxin-cleansing carbs.
  • Yum: Think about it…who doesn’t want carrot sticks and hummus?!

Don’t be Chicken of Liver

Along with other organic meats, liver is nutrient dense and, as a bonus, chock full of selenium, vitamin B12 and zinc, which cleanse the blood and balance the hormones in our bodies. Be a little brave!

  • What to eat: Chicken and beef liver preferably fresh from an organic market.
  • Treat yourself: pair these livers with herbs and cancer-fighting veggies

Step Out of Your Comfort-food Zone

Try new things. It’s a great way to see how you can work these great cancer beaters into a lifestyle that fits you! Start simple with juices or smoothies? Explore great recipes that integrate cancer fighting foods. To your good health!

 

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The Bountiful Benefits of Beans

eat your beans feature

In honor of National Eat Your Beans Day, we’d like to boast about the bountiful benefits beans provide. Black beans… Great Northern beans… garbanzo beans… kidney beans… lima beans… no matter which you chose, beans provide a myriad of health benefits. In general, ½ cup of beans provides 7 grams of protein, the same amount as in 1 ounce of chicken, meat or fish. Beans are low in fat, filled with fiber and contain a powerhouse of micronutrients and antioxidants like copper, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium and zinc. In fact, research suggests that eating beans regularly may decrease the risk of diabetes, heart disease, reduce risk of colorectal, breast, and prostate cancers and help with weight management.

Data compiled from 41 countries revealed that countries with the greatest consumption of beans had the lowest mortality rates due to colon cancer.[i] In a Harvard study from the International Journal of Cancer, 90,638 cancer free women between 26 and 46 years old were monitored for eight years. Those who ate beans or lentils two or more times per week had a 34% lower risk of breast cancer than women who ate them one or fewer times per month.[ii] Additionally, data from 15 countries revealed that countries with the greatest consumption of beans had the lowest death rates due to prostate cancer.[iii]

Beans are an extremely versatile food and can be served in many ways— from soups and chilis to salads, veggie burgers and enchiladas to desserts like brownies, the possibilities are seemingly endless.  Try our favorite Cancer-Fighting Black Bean Brownies… but we must warn you, these brownies are seriously addicting and it’s impossible to eat just one. Try them and let us know what you think 

 

Cancer-Fighting Black Bean Brownies

(Recipe originally seen on CancerHawk)

 

INGREDIENTS:

4 oz. unsweetened chocolate (72% cocoa or higher)
1 cup unsalted butter or non-hydrogenated butter substitute
2 cups soft-cooked black beans, drained well
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
¼ cup brewed coffee
¼ tsp sea salt
4 large eggs
1 ½ cups light agave nectar

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line an 11” by 18” baking pan with parchment paper.  Spray with canola oil.
  2. Melt chocolate and butter in a glass bowl in the microwave for 1 ½ to 2 minutes. Stir with a spoon to melt the chocolate completely.
  3. Place the soft-cooked beans, ½ cup of walnuts, vanilla extract and a couple spoonfuls of melted chocolate mixture into the food processor. Blend for 2 minutes or until smooth. Batter should be thick and the beans smooth.  Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, mix together the remaining ½ cup walnuts, remaining melted chocolate mixture, coffee and salt.  Mix well and set aside.
  5. In a separate bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the eggs until light & creamy- about 1 minute.
  6. Add the agave nectar & beat well.  Set aside.
  7. Add the bean/chocolate mixture to the coffee/chocolate mixture.  Stir until blended well.
  8. Add the egg mixture, reserving about 1/2 cup. Mix well & pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  9. Using an electric mixer, beat the remaining 1/2 cup egg mixture until light and fluffy.  Drizzle over the brownie batter.
  10. Use a wooden toothpick to pull the egg mixture through the batter, creating a marbled effect.
  11. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the brownies are set. Let cool in the pan completely before cutting into squares.  These brownies are very rich, so cut them into small squares.  (Please note:  The brownies will be soft until they are refrigerated.)  Store in the refrigerator.

Makes 45 or so (2-inch brownies)

Sources:

[i] http://beaninstitute.com/beans-cancer/

[ii] http://www.shape.com/blogs/weight-loss-coach/5-cancer-fighting-foods-you-should-be-eating-today

[iii] http://beaninstitute.com/beans-cancer/

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7 Simple Strategies to Boost Your Health

When it comes to a diet rich in cancer-fighting foods, most experts agree that it should consist of a predominantly plant-based diet as fruits and vegetables. Since June is National Fruit and Vegetable Month, it’s the perfect time to incorporate more healthy eating habits into your daily routine.

Fruits and vegetables provide the essential vitamins, minerals, fiber and disease-fighting phytochemicals our bodies need to thrive. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables may help to reduce our risk of heart disease, eye disease, high blood pressure and stroke, ease digestive problems, aid in healthy weight management and prevent certain types of cancer.

Research has shown that 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. Furthermore, people who are overweight or obese have a higher risk of many serious health conditions, including cancers. In fact, obesity is the second biggest preventable cause of cancer after smoking.

Although it may seem simple to follow the USDA guidelines and eat five servings of fruits and vegetables every day, less than 30% of Americans do it. Here are 7 simple strategies to boost your fruit and vegetable consumption:

1.  Keep fruits and veggies where you can see them. Whether you store your produce on the counter or in the fridge, placing them where you can easily see them increases the likelihood that you’ll actually eat them. To keep your produce as fresh as possible, follow these guidelines from Real Simple Magazine.

2.  Double the veggies. Most recipes call for a specific amount of vegetables. When it comes to something like soups, salads or casseroles, adding even more vegetables can enhance the flavor of your meal and boost its nutritional content.  Consider adding vegetable toppings to your pizza, sandwich or favorite pasta dish.  In these instances, more really is better.

3.  Blend a smoothie. Smoothies are a great way to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables you eat. They’re easy to make and are a perfect portable breakfast and satisfying snack. Try our Green Goddess Smoothie. It’s delicious and nutritious!

4.  Eat a rainbow. Choosing a variety of different-colored whole foods throughout the day and week doesn’t just make for beautiful meals—it’s a good way to make sure you’re getting a variety of vitamins and nutrients that can help prevent cancer, as well as other health concerns.  The deeper the color, the greater concentration of nutrients and antioxidants. Try our Rainbow Salsa with grilled chicken or fish tonight.

5.  Go meatless on Mondays. Join the “Meatless Monday” Movement and replace meat with vegetables one day a week. Salads and stir fries are two ideas for getting tasty vegetables on your plate. Try our Brazil Nut Pesto served over for extra cancer-fighting power.

6.  Make a few simple swaps. Grab an apple or an orange instead of cookies or substitute cucumbers and baby carrots for crackers. Dip them in guacamole or to add even more fruits and vegetables.

7.  Roast away. If you aren’t a fan of raw veggies, try roasting some squash, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, or eggplant. Long exposure to high heat will cause these foods to caramelize, which enhances their natural sweetness and reduces bitterness. Our Kale Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash & Toasted Almonds is truly delicious.

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-funded scientists have been investigating cancer prevention methodologies – and specifically links between nutrition and cancer – for decades. 

Scientist Dr. Helmut Sies¸ whose work has been 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 most recent research has been 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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Simple, Sensational Cancer-Fighting Salsa

Snacking on salsa is a simple and tasty way to add cancer-fighting fruits and veggies to your diet.  With a variety of ingredients from tomatoes, jalapenos or habanero peppers to mangoes, pineapples, strawberries and even beans, salsa can spice up meal-time.

Salsa is not just a savory dip for chips or tacos- it’s also a delicious topping served over chicken, fish and even scrambled eggs.

Try our Sensational Salsa below. It contains two of our favorite cancer-fighting foods- tomatoes and hot peppers. Also give our nutritious, delicious Rainbow Salsa a try- you won’t be disappointed!

Tomatoes are a good source of vitamins A, C and E, and the antioxidant lycopene, which may help prevent prostate, lung, and stomach cancers. Lycopene may also help reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease by reducing LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and lowering blood pressure. Plus, there’s some evidence that cancers of the pancreas, colon and rectum, esophagus, oral cavity, breast and cervix can be reduced with increased lycopene intake.

The active ingredient in hot peppers, capsaicin, has anticancer, antiulcer and antibacterial properties. Lab studies have shown capsaicin to shrink prostate, lung, breast and pancreatic cancer cells. TIP: the hotter the pepper, the more capsaicin it contains. Bell peppers contain little to no capsaicin, while some varieties of habanero contain so much it would cause your skin to blister.

Sensational Salsa

Adapted from Simply Recipes

Ingredients

2-3 medium sized fresh tomatoes (from 1 lb to 1 1/2 lb), stems removed

1/2 red onion

2 serrano chiles or 1 jalapeño chile (stems, ribs, seeds removed), less or more to taste

Juice of one lime

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Salt and pepper to taste

Pinch of dried oregano (crumble in your fingers before adding), more to taste

Pinch of ground cumin, more to taste

Method

  1. Start by roughly chopping the tomatoes, chiles, and onions. Be very careful while handling the chile peppers. If you can, avoid touching the cut peppers with your hands. Set aside some of the seeds from the peppers. If the salsa isn’t hot enough, you can add a few for more heat. (Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water after handling and avoid touching your eyes for several hours.)
  2. Place all the ingredients in a food processor. Pulse only a few times, just enough to finely dice the ingredients, not enough to purée. If you don’t have a food processor, you can finely dice by hand.
  3. Place in a serving bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. If the chilies make the salsa too hot, add some more chopped tomato. If it’s not hot enough, carefully add a few of the seeds from the chilies, or add a little more ground cumin.
  4. Let sit for an hour for the flavors to combine.

Fun Facts About Salsa

  • May is National Salsa Month
  • Salsa is the Spanish word for “sauce”.
  • In 2003, chips and salsa were designated as the Official State Snack of Texas.
  • Tomatoes and jalapenos are actually fruits, not vegetables.
  • For a list of 22 of the world’s hottest peppers, click here.
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Garlic: It’s Good For You

Garlic has been used as both food and medicine for thousands of years. Today, it is used to help prevent heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and to boost the immune system. Research has shown that eating garlic regularly may also help protect against cancer.[i]

What makes garlic such a potent disease fighter?


Garlic contains a rich combination of about 20 phytochemicals with antioxidant and antibacterial properties and a wide range of vitamins and minerals including calcium, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, zinc and vitamins B1, B2, B3 and C.

Research suggests that eating garlic regularly may help accelerate the process of repairing damaged DNA and may reduce the risk of several cancer types, including stomach, colon, pancreatic and breast cancer.[ii]

Please note: Although the health benefits of garlic are frequently reported, excessive intake can have harmful effects.

Roasted Garlic Chicken

Adapted from the Food Network’s Melissa d’Arabian

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 chicken thighs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 head of garlic, separated into whole cloves, paper skin removed (about 20 cloves)
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp herbes de Provence
  • 1 tsp flour (try using almond flour or coconut flour)
  • ¼ cup chicken stock
  • ½ lemon, juiced

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Salt and pepper chicken liberally. Separate garlic into whole cloves, papery skin removed.
  3. In a large ovenproof sauté pan, cook the whole garlic cloves in olive oil and butter over medium heat. Stir occasionally, until lightly golden, about 10 minutes.
  4. Remove garlic from the pan and set aside. Increase heat to medium-high and brown chicken skin-side down until the skin is golden and crispy, about 5 minutes.
  5. Turn the chicken over, sprinkle on herbes de Provence. Add the garlic back to the pan and place hot pan in oven. Bake the chicken until cooked through, about 25 minutes.
  6. Once the chicken is done, remove chicken thighs and garlic to a platter. Place the pan over medium-high heat and sprinkle the drippings with flour and stir to incorporate. Deglaze the pan with the chicken stock and lemon juice. Pour the sauce over the chicken on the platter.
  7. Serve with yummy whole grain bread for sauce-mopping and garlic spreading.

[i] http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/garlic

[ii] https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/garlic-fact-sheet

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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

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

  • 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.
artichoke-dip
Spinach-DYK-57407

[i] https://organicfacts.net/health-benefits/other/health-benefits-of-artichokes.html

[ii] https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-Consumer/

[iii] http://foodfacts.mercola.com/artichoke.html

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