What Are The Different Types Of Cancer Fighting Foods?

By: Jasmine Marfatia

Published On: October 23, 2018

If you or a loved on is suffering from cancer, here are some foods that can help in fighting the disease. Read on...

It’s time to include some foods into your diet, that have been known to help fight certain types of cancers. 

Cancer as you know, is, and continues to be a glaring cause of mortality world over, and has been on the rise in India too over the last few decades. A very recent statistic suggests that cancer is the second most common disease in India, and it claims 0.3 million lives each year. 

You may have heard that certain types of cancers are associated with obesity and excess weight gain. What you may not know is that obesity too, is on the rise in India, and is now being considered as an epidemic.

cancer-in-India-statisticsCancer cannot simply be attributed to one cause alone, but rather a combination of multiple factors including race, age, genetics, occupation, exposure to radiation, exposure to chemical carcinogens, viruses, lifestyle habits, and dietary factors. 

This article will discuss the nutritional and dietary aspect of cancer prevention and treatment. 

There have been several researches and studies conducted over the years, studying the relationship between cancer and food. Researches have been proved and dubunked many a times, leaving several unanswered questions and conflicting results in this area. 

That said, a general understanding points towards the inclusion of a wide spectrum of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients through either food sources or dietary supplements. 

This may be achieved by maintaining a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, pulses, fibre and a limited amount of animal foods. On the other hand, certain foods associated with an increased risk of obesity and cancer must be avoided or kept to a minimum. These include processed foods, alcohol, and foods that are high in trans fats.

Image result for cancer causing foods 

When speaking of diet and nutrition with regards to cancer, there are two approaches that one must focus on - prevention and therapy.

Prevention: The aim is too create an environment that supports and strengthens the body’s immune system, so that it is strong enough to fight off and destroy cells or antigens (carriers of diseases like, but not limited to cancer)

Therapy: Therapy, or nutritional therapy relates to a dietary approach that supports medical treatment and rehabilitation for those who are already suffering from cancer. 

Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery, can have a major impact on a person’s health. It could potentially compromise the integrity of one’s immune system and could even cause other complications. A good dietary approach may help combat these issues related to treatment, and support recovery. 

With regards to cancer, food can largely be divided into two categories:

  1. Inhibitors: Inhibitors include foods that are rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals that help fight and inhibit dietary carcinogens.

  2. Enhancers: Enhancers on the other hand include foods like red meat and trans fats, that could potentially contribute to cancer causing factors.

Cancer fighting foods


You have have heard in the past, that you must ‘eat the rainbow’. This means you should include a variety of colourful foods into your diet each day. Well, there is a reason why this has been said. 

The colour of a fruit or vegetable can actually tell you about the phytochemicals that are present in it. To make it simple, have a look at this table below of fruits and vegetables that are categorised into their colours and the phytochemical that is dominant in them. 






Tomatoes, pink grapefruit, watermelon


Anthocyanin & polyphenols

Berries, grapes, red wine, prunes



Carrots, mangoes, pumpkins

Yellow/ orange

B-cryptoxanthin & flavonoids

Cantaloupe, peaches, oranges, papaya, nectarines

Yellow/ green

Lutein & zeaxanthin

Spinach, avocado, honeydew, collard and turnip greens 


Sulforaphanes & indoles

Cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower 

White/ green

Allyl sulphides

Leeks, onions, garlic, chives

Include a small portion of raw foods

Raw foods have most of their vitamins and minerals intact. They foods can be consumed in the form of fruits and salads, and should amount to at least 3-4 cups a day. 

However, it is important to wash the fruits and vegetable thoroughly before consuming. That said, if a person suffers from digestive issues, it is better to cook the food before consuming. 

Avoid overcooking your food

Overcooking or over boiling you food can cause all the nutrients to get leached off the actual vegetable. Lightly steaming them until they are just tender enough to chew, is the perfect way to cook them. 

If you are boiling the vegetable to make a soup, you can consider using the broth as well, which contains some of the nutrients.

Use herbs and spices in your cooking

Indian cooking includes a wide variety of herbs and spices that offer valuable nutrients that can help fight cancer. Some good options are turmeric, ginger, coriander. 

Have a diet rich in fibre


Fibre is necessary to keep the digestive tract functioning smoothly. It is an efficient way to remove wastes from the body, which can produce carcinogenic compounds. Fibre may help prevent certain types of cancer like stomach cancer, mouth cancer, and colorectal cancer. 

Additionally, fibre is also beneficial in reducing bad cholesterol or LDL in the body. Good sources of fibre include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, whole pulses, and nuts. 

Include sources of good fats

Include a variety of good fats in your diet such as nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, and oily fish line salmon and tuna. Good fats will provide omega-3, which helps reduce inflammation.

Limit your meat consumption

Researches have shown that vegetarians are less likely to develop cancer than those who consume meat. The reasons for this have been attributed to lack of fibre in meat, high levels of saturated fats, and the use of antibiotics, hormones, and non-nutritious feed that poultry animal are raised on. 

However, this doesn’t mean that should never eat meat. Here’s how to go about it:

  • Limit meant to 2-3 times a week

  • Consume red meat only occasionally

  • Opt for organic, grass-fed, and free-range meat and poultry foods whenever possible

  • Consume leaner meats like chicken, fish, and turkey

  • Opt out of processed, cured, and deli meats like sausage, bacon, hot dogs etc

  • Limit charred meats and barbeques, as they could produce carcinogenic compounds

Avoid packaged foods


Packaged foods, even the ones that are seemingly healthy, are usually extremely high in sugar, trans fats, sodium, artificial colour, essences, and preservatives. They are also very easy to overeat. In short, its best to eat fresh and whole food, rather than food that comes out of a plastic package. 

Avoid overheating or reusing oil

Overheating or reusing cooking oil can change the structure of the oil, and even healthy oils can become trans fats. For that reason, it is better to use oils that have a high smoke point, and also to avoid deep frying, or baking at high temperatures. 

Beware of mouldy foods

Foods that may not seem fresh should be avoided. If they taste and smell funky, you must avoid eating it because it may have gone rancid. Rancid or mouldy smelling foods have a compound called aflatoxin, which can be carcinogenic.

Hopefully these tips will help you include foods into your diet, that have been known to help fight cancer! 

We suggest you also read:

What Are The Different Types Of Treatments For Cancer? 

Cancer Symptoms And Causes: Getting The Basics Right 

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