Reduce your Risk for Cancer by Eating More Phytochemicals
We are often told as children to eat our fruits and vegetables in order to stay healthy and live long lives. Fruits and vegetables contain minerals, vitamins and antioxidants that improve the health of our bodies as a whole. But, what is also known is that fruits and vegetables can help reduce the risk of cancer. They contain phytochemicals. These are natural compounds that are responsible for the color and properties of fruits and vegetables. Phytochemicals are the reason garlic has such a strong smell or oranges are orange or tea gives a strong astringent sensation when we taste it. A daily food consumption that contains a selection of fruits, vegetables and beverages contain about 1-2 grams of phytochemcial compounds. Results from studies have shown that the ability of fruits and vegetables to reduce the risk of cancer comes from their phytochemical properties.
Phytochemcial compounds are molecules that help plants to defend themselves against infection and potential damage that microogranisams can cause. These molecules produce antibacterial, antifungal and insecticidal properties that help to repair any damage caused by microorganisms, which allow the plant to survive. All plants contain a number of phytochemical compounds, but the amount of compounds in each fruit and vegetable can vary. There are many phytochemicals and each one works differently. Some are characterized by their smell or color. Others are characterized by the class of molecules they contain. Most have antioxidant activity that will help to protect our cells against oxidative damage. While other phytochemicals contain hormonal action, stimulation of enzymes, can interfere with DNA replication, have antibacterial effects and produce physical action. Below is an explanation of the above phytochemical properties.
1. They are antioxidative, reducing the risk of developing certain types of cancer.
2. Stimulate enzymes by making estrogen less effective and may reduce the risk of breast cancer.
3. Interfere with the replication of cell DNA to prevent the multiplication of cancer cells.
The amount of phytochemicals within fruits and vegetables are not created equally and thus, will not have the same benefits. Foods that have high levels of different classes of these compounds are called neutraceuticals. Nutraceuticals contain large quantities of one or more molcules with anticancer potential. Foods that are considered to be nutraceuticals and contain high levels of phytochemicals are said to attack those processes that sophisticated drugs attack when treating cancer. This ceases the development and growith of a tumor.
So, in order to reduce your risk of developing cancer, consume a diet that is rich in phytochemical compounds. Below is a short list of some foods that are rich in these compounds.
1. Cruciferous vegetables. Vegetables in this class are characterized by the shape of flowers they produce. Vegetables in this class are cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, kohlrabi and kale. They contain a large variety of phytochemical compounds with anticancer activity which slows the development of cancer.
2. Garlic and onions. They will also slow the development of cancer and prevent cancer cell growth.
3. Turmeric. This is a spice that is an important ingredient in Indian cuisines. It is rich in flavor and color, but it can also interfere with the development of certain cancers.
4. Green tea. It contains a large amount of catechins that have anticancer activity.
5. Berries. Eat more strawberries, blueberries and cranberries. All of them contain potential anticancer activity as well.
6. Tomatoes. They contain lycopene which is the reason tomatoes are red. Tomatoes may also be a great way to reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer.
7. Citrus fruits. Oranges, grapefruits, lemons and mandarins contain several anticancer phytochemicals.
Listed above are just a few foods that contain high levels of these natural compounds. It is important for all people to consume a more healthy diet made up of a lot of diverse vegetables and fruits. They aren't called healthy just because of their appearance, but because they can actually make us healthy.
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