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There are so many different types of anticancer plants; in fact, some research has shown that there may very well be several thousands of existing plants that can fight cancer. This is because plants contain many vitamins and other chemicals that are considered antioxidants, which prevents cells from becoming damaged and inducing cancer. For easier reference, common anticancer plants can be categorized in different groups such as fruits, vegetables, spices, and nuts.
Fruits are especially common anticancer plants and their vibrant hues of orange, red, and purple indicate the abundant presence of antioxidants. The tomato, for example, is considered to be one of the best anticancer fruits because it is an excellent source of lycopene, one of the most potent antioxidants that especially combats prostate cancer. Other fruits containing lycopene and other vitamins such as A and C are papayas, oranges, and watermelon. Purple-tinged fruits such as blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries contain another antioxidant called anthocyanin that fights not only many types of cancers but cardiovascular diseases as well. Other fruits that have shown anticancer activities include avocado, grapefruits, lemons, and mangoes.
Vegetables also have different antioxidants; some are also present in fruits, while some are not. Broccoli is among the most popular anticancer plants because it has high levels of a chemical called “indole-3-carbinol,” which has been found to be especially beneficial for breast cancer prevention and treatments. The vegetable’s other cousins, such as cabbage, cauliflower, and kale, also contain indole-3-carbinol. Orange-colored vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin are also cancer-fighting foods because they contain a lot of beta-carotene, which is a precursor to vitamin A, another antioxidant that prevents cell damage. Other vegetables that can combat cancer are celery, beets, spinach, and even seaweed.
Anticancer plants also include a variety of spices, noted for their distinct flavor and aroma. The common garlic and onion both contain a specific compound called diallyl disulfide that slows down tumor growth and spreading of cancer cells, especially in stomach and colon cancers. Chili peppers are also known cancer fighters as they contain the chemical capsaicin that helps “deactivate” carcinogens like nitrosamines. Rosemary has also been studied to prevent skin and breast tumors from developing.
Nuts like sesame and flax seeds are very important anticancer plants because, among many foods, they contain the largest amount of lignin, an antioxidant that acts like the hormone estrogen and can prevent certain cancers such as breast and prostate cancers. Other nuts and seeds like walnuts, almonds, and pecans contain high amounts of vitamin E, particularly omega-3. Some studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids can decrease tumor size, especially for colon and prostate cancer. They also contain a lot of selenium, an element that acts like an antioxidant by increasing the strength of the immune system to fight against prostate and lung cancers.
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