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Cancer Comrades

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Fruits and vegetables have become the darlings of the nutritional world, being deemed as the only safe carbohydrate sources to consume in the latest low-carb diet regimen.

Fruits and vegetables have become the darlings of the nutritional world, being deemed as the only safe carbohydrate sources to consume in the latest low-carb diet regimen.

Researchers and our mothers have known all along that we should be eating our "fruits and veggies" for their many health benefits.

Some of the most encouraging news is that Mother Nature has provided some of the most potent substances shown to fight cancer in this neglected food group. Here's a look at some of the latest heroes.

Tomatoes

Studies indicate that a high dietary intake of lycopene, chiefly from tomatoes, is inversely associated with the incidence of cancer of the digestive tract and prostate. Other research also indicates that lycopene intake may be associated with reduced risk of cancers of the breast, lung, bladder, cervix, and skin. Researchers are also studying the effects of lycopene on cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.

A Chinese study of 274 people examined the relationship of dietary intake of lycopene and other carotenoids and prostate cancer risk. Researchers concluded that prostate cancer risk declined with increasing consumption of lycopene, alpha carotene, beta carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Intake of tomatoes, pumpkin, spinach, watermelon, and citrus fruits were also inversely associated with prostate cancer risk.

Berries

The deep red-, purple-, and blue-pigmented berries are some of the most powerful agents in nature against cancer. Rich in the well-known antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin A, C, and E, it is the lesser-known groups of nutrients called flavonoids and phenols that are the stronger cancer fighters.

Look to eat more blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, blackberries, elderberries, and bilberries. All these fruits have been specifically linked to cancer research. Some of the active ingredients in these fruits are now showing up on supplement labels including quercetin, ellagic acid, anthocyanins, proanthocyanins, phenolics, and flavonols. The benefits of these ingredients have been linked to fighting leukemia, colon, lung, esophageal, and breast cancers.

Vegetables

Broccoli, kale, onions, garlic, spinach, and carrots are a few of the antioxidant-rich foods that have been linked to reduced risk of certain cancers. Active substances found in these foods, such as sulforphane, lutein, indol-3-carbinol, and carotenoids have shown action against breast, prostate, and colon cancers.

Eat Them All

The Department of Food Science at Cornell University has stated, "It is now widely believed that the actions of the antioxidant nutrients alone do not explain the observed health benefits of diets rich in fruits and vegetables." They recommend eating a variety of fruits and vegetables to ensure proper nutrition.

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