According to the National Cancer Institute, out of every 100,000 men and women, about 439 will be diagnosed with cancer every year. The estimated total for the United States alone in 2018 was 1,735,350 new cancer cases. With statistics like these, many people are making the choice to commit to big life-style changes in order to turn their odds. One of the biggest areas of influence can actually be in the foods that we eat. Many foods have properties that are beneficial for the body. A diet rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and healthy unsaturated fats can not only improve your day-to-day health, but it can greatly lower your risk for chronic diseases and even cancer. 

Antioxidants are especially well-known for their healing abilities. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals within the body. Though they are naturally occurring, when built up in excess, radicals can cause damage to the surrounding cells and tissues. In turn, this increases the risk for chronic diseases and cancer. A wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables included in every meal will provide all of these great properties and more.  

Though each food has its own list of benefits, there are several that can be put in the spotlight for their anti-cancer properties. One such food is mushrooms. They are far more than just a great addition to your morning omelet or salad bar. Mushrooms were utilized in traditional Chinese medicine for hundreds of years for a variety of conditions, including cancer. According to Cancer Research UK, there are specific compounds in mushrooms that have been shown to stimulate the immune system to attack cancer cells. Studies have also shown when exposed to the mushroom extracts, some types of cancer cell growth decreased.

Pulling again from the vegetable section of your walk-in, choices such as arugula, cabbage, kale, radishes, and more (known as cruciferous vegetables) are high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They specifically contain an antioxidant called glucosinolates. These sulfur-containing compounds are broken down within the gut and create subsequent compounds that have been shown to inhibit the growth of some cancer cells.

The spice cabinet is yet another place within the kitchen filled with healthy and beneficial foods to add to your anti-cancer arsenal. In turmeric, there is an antioxidant called curcumin. This powerful little compound has been shown to kill cancer cells, as well as prevent their growth. The key to making this spice more effective is to consume it with small amounts of black pepper, which increases its absorption.  Next to turmeric, is the tasty and comforting spice, cinnamon. Cinnamon is already well known for how it has been shown to help blood sugar levels in diabetes. Yet, further studies have shown that this common ingredient may decrease the growth and spread of tumors by inhibiting the formation of blood vessels within them. 

Another spice and an all-around favorite ingredient is garlic. A study done using a simple extract made from fresh garlic has shown many pathways that garlic can affect. The garlic extract not only slowed the growth of some cancer cells, but when used as a supplement during chemotherapeutics, the drugs became more effective in fighting the cancer cells. 

All of these foods and more will make not only a tasty addition to your meals, but their incorporation is a small step you can take to improving your long-term health. It is important to note that these foods are not a cure for cancer. Studies on them have shown promise, however, in decreasing your risks of developing different types of cancer and chronic disease, and even is aiding the recovery after diagnosis. The foods we eat truly shape how our bodies function. When we give our bodies the right tools, they are able to do more than we could have imagined.