In my first blog on the superfood diet to fight and prevent cancer, I addressed juicing and smoothies/shakes as an easy and convenient way to make greens and fruits the mainstay of your diet. If you start your day with a juice or smoothie that includes at least 2-3 servings of greens, you are well on your way to an anti-cancer diet. In part 2, I’d like to highlight key ingredients for a super salad you can enjoy for lunch or dinner.
This comparative study demonstrated the antiproliferative and antioxidant activities of vegetables. Of the common vegetables studied, garlic (part of the Allium family) showed the most anti-cancer activity. In this lab study, garlic stopped growth in all tumor cell lines investigated – breast, brain, lung, pancreatic, prostate, brain and stomach cancer. Leeks (also part of the Allium family), cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, etc.), spinach and beets also showed cancer stopping power. So the inclusion of allium, cruciferous, root and green vegetables is an important and tasty element of the anti-cancer diet.
So I would start with some greens like kale, spinach, watercress, arugula – then add some cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, broccoli sprouts, cabbage. There are several reasons why cruciferous vegetables are so good for you:
- They have an active compound called Indole-3-carbinol which is known to be an immune booster and has been studied for its anti-tumor properties.
- They also contain sulforaphanes – these are sulfur-based compounds that have been studied for their chemopreventive activities.
- Broccoli sprouts are considered to have 25X more sulforaphanes and 100X more indole-3-carbinol than regular broccoli. If you want to supercharge, you can purchase them in your local health store or grow your own. I keep my diet simple and stick to eating standard cruciferous vegetables but it’s an option if you’d like to try.
Add to the salad some beans – this versatile plant protein contains a compound called IP-6 and has also been studied for its anti-cancer properties. If you can, try sprouted beans as sprouting them unlocks the enzymes and amps up the nutrition.
Next, add some immune boosting and anti-inflammatory mushrooms. They have been shown to suppress aromatase (which promotes breast cancer) better than any other vegetable. Also, one cup of white button mushrooms has been shown to accelerate the secretion of immune system antibodies in saliva by 50% to improve mucosal immunity.
To top it off, throw in some healthy nuts (almonds, walnuts), an avocado (best source of mono-unsaturated fatty acids) and you’re ready for the dressing.
For convenience, make enough salad and dressing for several days – keep the toppings separate from the greens and toss with dressing when ready to serve.
For salad dressings, it’s best to use extra virgin olive oil or organic flax oil. Olive oil has an active compound called oleocanthal which has been studied for inflammation, cancers and neurodegenerative diseases.
Flax oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and shown to inhibit in vitro proliferation of human cancer cells.
You can mix the olive oil with organic apple cider vinegar (which is a good source of probiotics, potassium and enzymes), lemon, garlic and spices to your liking. Make sure the spices are organic and purchased in small quantities as potency will decline with cabinet aging.
- Turmeric is one of the most potent anticancer spices as it contains the active compound curcumin. Studies have shown that curcumin inhibits cell mutation, metastasis, and tumor growth without negatively impacting healthy cells. Just remember to add some black pepper when using turmeric. The active compound in black pepper called piperine, is known to increase the bioavailability of the curcuminoids in turmeric.
- Oregano is a potent anti-microbial and antioxidant, contains vitamin K, iron and the flavonoid quercetin.
- Cayenne Pepper – These hot peppers contain capsaicin which also exhibit anti-cancer activity by altering the expression of genes involved in cancer growth angiogenesis and metastasis.
- Black Cumin – Known as nigella sativa and used for centuries throughout the world as a natural remedy, this amazing spice has been studied for its anti-cancer, apoptotic effect, antitumor, antioxidant and malignancy properties. Also sold as black seed oil, it has a nice peppery flavor and can be a great addition to your salad dressing.