heard it before . . . eat your broccoli, it's
good for you. Well, it's true. Eating more broccoli,
citrus fruits, onions and soy beans may help
protect you from cancer. And not just because
of the nutrients they contain - but mostly because
of the chemicals found in these foods. They're
called "phytochemicals," meaning plant
chemicals, and there are hundreds of them found
in plant foods. Examples of phytochemicals are
indoles in broccoli and genstain in soybeans.
the past 20 years, scientists all over the world have consistently
found that people who eat greater amounts of vegetables
and fruits have lower rates of cancer. Why that is, we don't
exactly know. We can't prove that fruits and vegetables
alone can curb cancer, but we do know they play a key role.
animals are fed vegetables and fruits before being exposed
to carcinogens (cancer-causing agents), they are less likely
to develop cancer. Not enough studies have been done on
humans to make as clear a connection. But the fact remains:
those who eat more fruit and vegetables are less susceptible
plant foods are the best cancer fighters? Following are
foods containing some of the more widely studied phytochemicals:
onions, leeks and chives may make carcinogens easier to
vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale,
turnips) may block carcinogens from damaging the genetic
make-up of your cells.
beans/dried beans may help prevent cancerous tumours from
fruits, grapes and other fruits may help dispose of potential
grains may help to prevent cell damage from taking place.
often ask - which is best, raw or cooked? With regard to
phytochemical content, it really doesn't matter; even canned,
frozen and juiced produce pack a phytochemical punch. However,
raw or steamed vegetables provide the best overall nutrient
come in pill form? Not yet, but perhaps in 10 years. Of
course, isolating a few compounds in a pill will not provide
you with the hundreds of other protective benefits that
plant foods provide. Your best deal: Get your phytochemicals
by eating a variety of plant foods every day, starting today.
Romaniw, B.A.Sc., R.D.N., is the Community
Nutritionist at the Upper Fraser Valley Health
Unit, Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada (604)