I'm a strong believer in the old adage "you are what you eat." That's why I always advise my patients to incorporate bright, colorful foods into their diets.
Preventing cancer and your diet go hand-in-hand. Antioxidants, vitamins and polyphenols are paramount in staving off this devastating disease. I've compiled a list of foods that are rich in cancer-fighting properties.
1. Avocados:Rich in the antioxidant glutathione, which attacks free radicals in the body, avocados are an excellent source of potassium and beta-carotene.
2. Carrots:They're good for your eyesight, but also good for nixing cancer. Beta-carotene can help reduce many cancers including lung, throat, stomach, intestine, prostate and breast cancers. Be aware that some research has suggested that taking beta-carotene supplements has actually been linked to higher rates of lung cancer in high-risk groups like smokers.
3. Chili peppers and jalapenos: Not only do they spice up your favorite dishes, but they have a chemical called capsaicin in them that can help keep certain cancer-causing elements called nitrosamines at bay.
4. Flax: Chock full of healthy ingredients like antioxidants, which can block cancerous changes in the body, it is also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to protect against breast and colon cancers.
5. Garlic:It will help to boost your immune system and breakdown cancer-causing substances. The allium compounds found in garlic block carcinogens from getting into your cells and slow down tumor development. Studies have linked a lower risk for stomach and colon cancers with garlic. One study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that garlic supplements did not have the same effect, so stick with the whole clove.
6. Green tea: According to many studies, green tea is a cure-all. It has been known to help prevent skin, esophageal, stomach, colon, pancreas, lung, bladder, prostate and breast cancers. This tea contains polyphenols, which have antioxidant properties. Studies have shown that polyphenols shut down and prevent cancerous tumors by cutting off the blood supply to tumors.
7. Licorice root: Studies suggest it may be helpful in preventing prostate cancer because it contains a chemical called glycyrrhizin, which helps block components of testosterone. You should not take licorice root if you have high blood pressure, and licorice candy doesn't count - you have to eat the actual root.
8. Rosemary: Studies have shown rosemary helps to inhibit the development of both breast and skin tumors in animals. There haven't been any studies done on humans yet, but rosemary has a long history of other medicinal uses like treating upset stomachs, digestive disorders and headaches.
9. Seaweed: Rich in beta-carotene, protein, vitamin B12, fiber, chlorophyll and chlorophylones, it contains important fatty acids that could help fight off breast cancer.
10. Turmeric:It's a powerful anti-inflammatory that can help slow the production of inflammation-related enzymes, which are high in certain cancers like bowel and colon cancers.
I want to be clear - these foods are not cure-alls. But they might help your body better defend itself from developing cancer, so eat up!
Dr. Cynara Coomer is an assistant professor of surgery specializing in breast health and breast cancer surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. She is a FOX News Health contributor providing medical expertise on a variety of topics in cancer research with a focus on women's health, breast diseases and tips for healthy breasts at any age. If you have a question email her at DrCoomer@foxnews.com