“You are what you eat,” as the popular saying goes. That rings all the more true when you consider your health—and particularly, your cancer risk.
Your diet is one of the primary factors which can set your body up for health or disease. The nutrients (or lack thereof) that you take in; the vitamins and minerals you eat; the amount of water you consume—all of these factors contribute to a healthy body and support your immune system to fight off disease.
When considering your diet, there are plenty of foods you can eat to support your body’s ability to fight against cancer; in fact, I’ve shared a number of blog posts about them in the past. You can read about cancer-fighting and preventing foods here and here. The essence of these blogs is a focus on legumes, cruciferous vegetables, wild caught fish and free range chicken, ginger, garlic, and foods with antioxidant properties, like berries.
There are some unique foods you can also add into your diet to further support your body’s immune function—ones you may not have heard of in the past, or expected to see on a list of cancer-fighting foods. We’ve outlined them for you below:
Similar to blueberries and blackberries, pomegranates can offer your body antioxidant support. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals in the body, which have the potential to interfere with healthy cells and steer them towards malignancy, leading to cancer.
In addition, pomegranates offer anti-inflammatory support. When the body is inflamed, the immune system’s functioning decreases, hormones can build up in the body, and your overall health is negatively impacted. Anti-inflammatory agents like pomegranates can help decrease inflammation and return the body to homeostasis and health.
SStudies have linked pomegranates to reduced growth of cancer cells. Be wary, however: pomegranate juice does not always carry this cancer inhibiting protection with it. Because pomegranate juice is loaded with sugar, it’s going to increase inflammation in the body and ultimately neutralize any potential positive effects.
Stick to the whole fruit: you can get whole pomegranates from the grocery store, or opt for frozen pomegranate kernels (so you don’t have to do all the messy cutting and scooping!) to add to a salad, smoothie, or even a bright fish dish!
2. Black Seeds & Black Seed Oil
Black seeds—also known as black cumin seed or black cumin—go by the scientific name nigella sativa. The plant which provides black seeds is also known as the fennel flower, black caraway, or kalonji, depending on which region you’re in.
Black cumin was a commonly used natural remedy in traditional medicine and it’s been in use for centuries to help with a wide variety of ailments. Modern science has been able to identify the active agent in black cumin as a compound known as thymoquinone (TQ). TQ is believed to decrease inflammation, support immune function, and prevent cancer.
Considerable research has been conducted on the use of TQ and black cumin in preventing and fighting cancer. One review outlines the efficacy of TQ and other compounds in black cumin. In particular, they point out studies which have linked black cumin to adequately fight against malignant cells in the bloodstream, kidneys, liver, breasts, prostate, and lungs.
Though there are a variety of ideas for exactly how TQ may fight against cancer, a leading theory is TQ’s ability to act as a free radical scavenger, which protects cells from the harm imbued by free radicals.
To weave black seeds AKA black cumin AKA black seed oil into your diet, consider the following:
- Add black cumin to stir-fried veggies
- Sprinkle black cumin on fish or chicken
- Replace pepper with black cumin with your eggs
- Add black cumin to your salad mix
- Add black cumin oil to your salad dressing (https://mountainroseherbs.com/black-cumin-seed-oil
Black cumin is available at most grocery stores, though you’ll find particular luck at health foods stores or Whole Foods. If you want pure black seed, you can find it at Mountain Rose Herbs, linked here.
3. Sea Veggies
Sea vegetables—including kelp, hijiki, nori, kombu—hold powerful anti-cancer properties as well. If you are unfamiliar with these names, the last time you had sea veggies was likely in the wrapping of your sushi roll; however, these foods offer a variety of benefits that make them a should-be staple in your pantry.
If we go one by one…
- Kelp: Removes heavy metals from the body and decreases any radioactive particles present
- Hijiki: Supports natural killer T-cells—immune system cells which fight malignant cancer cells
- Nori: Includes high levels of calcium, iron, and carotenes
- Kombu: High in calcium, magnesium, and vitamins B, C, D, and E; decreases blood pressure; also high in protein compared to the other sea vegetables!
All these sea veggies can be found at your local H-Mart or Asian food store but if all these sea veggies appear to be overwhelming, how about making simple nori cheese snacks? Easy to prepare and yummy:
If you’re looking for ways to make your nutrition plan more unique, try out one of these options this week! Black cumin adds some more spice, pomegranates add more brightness, and sea vegetables are a delicious snack or addition to a rice dish.