Every year nearly 55,000 people are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK alone. That is the equivalent of 1 person every 10 minutes. Shockingly, 1 in 8 women in the UK will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, and unfortunately girls, not one of us is exempt from this risk. Therefore, we are jumping on the Breast Cancer Awareness Month bandwagon (as if we needed an excuse to #gopink!) and are shouting out about the importance of living every day to its fullest!
So, whilst cancer researchers are working towards a cure, here at Hip & Healthy we have researched our own version of cancer-preventatives: simple, natural food! We are strong believers that a balanced, nourishing diet is the simplest countermeasure to enable our bodies to fight whatever life throws at us.
So, get eating girls! Here are our top anti-cancerous foods to strengthen your immune system, replenish cell and DNA complexes and enhance that mood to ensure you live every day hip, healthy and happy.
Black Raspberries – We all know that foods high in antioxidants and anticarcinogens are good for us. But why exactly is this? Well, these awesome anti’s measure our food’s ability to absorb oxygen-free radicals and subsequently inhibits the development of cancer. But why are radicals so risky? Impulsively, oxygen-free radicals endeavour to restore their lonely, unpaired electron. Because of this, radicals are dangerously reactive; they mess with the structures of our own healthy cells in hope of becoming whole, stable molecules. This is dangerous as such damage puts you at risk of cellular deformity, mutation, damage to DNA and the growth of tumours (cancer).
Black raspberries, not to be mistaken for the blackberry, reign berry-supreme when it comes to oxygen radical absorption capacity (ORAC), boasting a staggering level of antioxidants (three times the amount of blueberries!). This is greatly due to the potent power posse of the anthocyanins and ellagic acid. The former, giving the raspberry is deep colour, provides anti-inflammatory and vasoprotective qualities, whereas the latter is a phenolic compound known to be an acute anti-viral, anti-bacterial anticarcinogen. What are you waiting for? Get black berry-savvy and rejoice in the rectifying raspberry!
Red Grapes – Grapes contain the powerful polyphenols quercetin, catechin, lupeol, pterostilbene and fisetin which have all been found to have chemo-preventative, anti-cancerous properties by inhibiting cancer growth, and acting as selective estrogen modifiers (now that’s a lot of long biological words right there).
However, don’t let these chemicals baffle you – what makes the red grapes so special, is its level of resveratrol. Resveratrol in particular has the ability to suppress the proliferation of breast cancer cells and promote cell death by inhibiting aromatase (the synthesis of estrogen from androgens within the body), which is important for reducing growth-stimulatory effects in estrogen-dependant breast cancer. What’s more, resveratrol has also been shown to increase the effects of radiation treatment and the chemotherapy drug Taxol against breast cancer! Perhaps the occasional glass of red isn’t all that bad…
Tomatoes – The terrific tomato might not contain high levels of resveratrol, but cue extreme lycopene! Given its eleven conjugated double bonds, it is this epic structure that gives its dense antioxidant value and raging red colour. A ferocious fighter against free radicals caused by excessive sun exposure, alcohol, smoking, pollution and a poor diet, lycopene loves to lap up these nasty by-products to clean, cleanse and clarify your system.
What’s more, lycopene has been proven to increase your skin’s durability against UV rays. Not only does this maintain your youthful glow and skin health, but it reduces your risk to skin damage to ultimately prevent skin cancer. Whilst we are not advocating that you swap your SPF lotion for a diet rich in tomatoes, when you decide to bare all on that nudist beach in Barcelona, you might want to consider swapping your morning mocktail from a mojito to a virgin Bloody Mary!
Broccoli – Having emphasised the anti-cancer benefits of red foods, it was only a matter of time before we reiterated the greatness of greens. Unsurprisingly, all greens contain cancer-fighting properties, especially cruciferous veggies (think cabbage and kale!). However broccoli is heads and stems above its fellow green gang as it is the only one that has a sizeable amount of sulforaphane. This cool compound boosts the body’s protective enzymes and strengthens your immune system, ensuring that any cancer-causing chemical that dares trespass is identified and eradicated.
If this wasn’t enough, it has been proven to enhance the production of tumour suppressing proteins and assists the liver in processing toxins and carcinogens. But beware of boiling. Did you know that boiling your veg can eliminate the nutritional value by a staggering 70%? If you haven’t already, we think it is time you invest in that steamer (*add to Christmas wish list*).
Walnuts – All hale this mighty nut, for it has the ability to actually turn on and off dozens of genes in your cells. Think we’re nuts? Believe it or not, the genes affected by a walnut rich diet can influence the growth and development of the cells that line the breast ducts. With breast cancer awareness month, we were alerted to the fact that walnuts could influence genes involved in cell growth, cell death, cell development and differentiation in the mammary glands (milk producing cells in the breast). Furthermore, the phytosterols present block estrogen receptors in breast cancer cells, therefore is a highly effective preventative.
These benefits, as well as the powerful presence of omega 3 fatty acids, gamma tocopherol (antioxidant), vitamin E, melatonin and phytosterols, also lowers the risk of chronic inflammation and oxidative stress. Therefore the wicked walnut can help your mind, body and soul be strong, happy and nourished efficiently to prepare you for the adventures of each day. Now that’s a VERY good reason to nibble on this noteworthy nut!
Eat well, live well, be well hip & healthies! #gopink
words by Olivia Murphy