The Best Foods for Cancer Prevention

by Jillian Chertok

Approximately over 1.6 million new cases of cancer were diagnosed in the US last year, with nearly 600,000 people dying from the disease, according to the National Cancer Institute. Those are terrifying statistics. Unfortunately, there’s not yet a cure for cancer, but there are steps you can take to lower your risk, including eating certain foods.


Here’s a grocery list recommended by the MD Anderson Cancer Center:



  • Sweet potatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Bok choy
  • Spinach (preferably organic)
  • Kale or collard greens (preferably organic)
  • Peas (fresh or frozen)
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Edamame
  • Tomatoes (no salt added if canned)
  • Garlic
  • Pears
  • Oranges
  • Red or purple grapes (preferably organic, if imported)
  • Fresh or frozen berries (preferably organic)


  • Lean chicken or turkey
  • Lean fish such as salmon, halibut, redfish or red snapper
  • Tofu
  • Black, red or pinto beans (low sodium)
  • Garbanzo beans/chickpeas (low sodium)


  • Skim milk
  • Low-fat cheese
  • Eggs or egg substitutes


  • Wild rice or brown rice (regular or instant)
  • Whole grain pasta
  • Lentils


  • Whole grain bread, tortillas or buns


  • Bran flakes
  • Oatmeal


  • Popcorn
  • Whole grain tortilla chips or crackers
  • Hummus
  • Almonds (plain, unsalted)


  • Olive oil
  • Canola oil
  • Low-fat or fat-free salad dressing


  • Turmeric


  • Purple grape juice (100% juice, no added sugar)
  • Green or white tea (tea bags or loose)
  • Water


And here’s why some of these foods prevent cancer, according to Readers’ Digest:

  • Garlic: Contains sulfur compounds that may stimulate the immune system’s natural defenses against cancer, and may have the potential to reduce tumor growth.
  • Blueberries: Chock full of antioxidants, which neutralize free radicals, which are unstable compounds that can damage cells and lead to diseases, such as cancer.
  • Kiwi: Contains cancer-fighting antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, lutein and copper.
  • Apples: When the natural fiber in apples ferments in the colon it produces chemicals
  • Corn: Contains ferulic acid, which may inhibit cancer-causing substances.
  • Scallions: Eating raw onions can reduce the risk of prostate cancer by 50 percent, but if biting into an uncooked onion isn’t your thing, try scallions, shallots or chives, which are more palatable.
  • Fish: Researchers have found that people who eat four or more servings of fish per week were nearly one-third less likely to develop the blood cancers leukemia, myeloma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
  • Eggs: Egg yolks contain vitamin D, which helps reduce the risk of some cancers, so think twice before ordering that egg white omelet!
  • Black tea: According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, women who drink at least two cups of black tea daily have a 32 percent lower risk of ovarian cancer.
  • Coffee: The National Cancer Institute found that people who drink four or more cups of coffee (including decaf) a day have a 15 percent lower risk of colon cancer than people who don’t drink coffee.


To learn more about how other foods prevent cancer, check out this great article from Reader’s Digest:



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