Do you want to know what I find alarming? One of the most popular buzz words today is Cancer. I'm going to venture out on a limb and say that we all know someone affected by this deadly disease and we are all familiar with what cancer does or can do to the human body.
I'm going to throw out a couple more familiar buzzwords: vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. We have all heard of these. However, it seems the importance and the effect of these essential micronutrients consistently eludes us.
While building-block nutrients—protein, carbohydrates, and fats—are essential as well, Americans are over-stuffing their diets with them and missing out on disease-fighting micronutrients like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
"Your healthy life expectancy is proportional to the micronutrient-per-calorie density of your diet. We want to get as many micronutrients as possible per caloric buck," says Dr. Joel Fuhrman, star nutrition researcher, physician, and author of Eat to Live and Super Immunity (Great books BTW).
To illustrate, "...heaping servings of beta-carotene, vitamin A, and lycopene should accompany each gram of carbohydrate you ingest. Sweet potatoes are good at this; bagels are not."
I eat in the DFAC as you do every single day. I know how difficult it is to select the best foods and preserve some freedom of choice. I’m not telling you what to do, but here is a strong recommendation of 6 foods you SHOULD be eating in the DFAC to give yourself the best chance of fighting off cancer.
This one's a no-brainer, but no matter how often you're eating leafy greens, you could probably still eat more. In addition to protein, greens contain calcium, folate, and a slew of antioxidants. Extra credit portion: Cruciferous green veggies like broccoli and kale also release isothiocyanates (when their cells are broken by chewing, chopping, or blending), compounds linked to lower cancer risk.
Legumes are nutrient-dense carbs that come with lots of fiber, and because your body digests them slowly, they have a stabilizing effect on blood sugar. Multiple studies suggest that beans may decrease the risk of colon cancer, as well as other cancers.
These tear-jerking veggies are way more powerful than you may have imagined. In fact, onions are super foods. They have super high concentrations of superstar flavonoid antioxidants—like quercetin, inflammation-fighters that also lower the risk of colon and other cancers. Onions are a source of organosulfur, compounds that battle carcinogens and suppress the growth of cancer cells.
No matter your preference—Portabello, shiitake, or reishi—mushrooms have nutrients that fight inflammation, prevent DNA damage, and more. They also contain aromatase inhibitors. These block the production of estrogen in the body, leading to significant reductions in breast cancer risk.
You've probably heard this one. Berries are bright and colorful because of their powerful antioxidants, like flavonoids, and studies have linked them a long list of health benefits, including (but not limited to) increased brain power, cancer prevention, and reduced blood pressure.
Seeds tend to be high in protein and trace minerals. Flax, chia, and hemp seeds all pack heaping doses of omega-3s, sesame seeds are rich in calcium, and pumpkin seeds come with calcium, iron, and zinc. Flax and sesame seeds also contain lignans, associated with lower risk of some cancers.