Can Purple Foods Prevent Cancer?
It’s no secret that what we eat directly affects our health and wellbeing. But did you know that there are certain foods that can help prevent cancer stem cells from staking out a spot in your body?
Purple Cancer Eaters: Can Purple Foods Help Prevent Cancer?
Interestingly enough, many of these foods are purple. Brightly colored plant foods are packed with healing nutrients, and purple rules the cancer-fighting roost.
Cancer stem cells cause cancer to develop in your body and are often responsible for cancer returning after treatment. So upping the purple in your diet can help fight the risk of cancer and promote long-term health.
And cancer-fighting is not all these powerful foods they can do. Packed with anti-inflammatory compounds, purple plants are great for your liver, heart, urinary tract, and overall wellbeing. All the more reason to pump up the purple.
Three powerful substances in purple foods
So, what makes purple foods so powerful? The bioactive anthocyanin that is often found in purple foods can help fight cancer stem cells and has a powerful anti-inflammatory effect. Foods such as pomegranates, purple potatoes, plums, berries, and beets contain this cancer-fighting agent.
Purple plants also contain resveratrol, which can prevent or at least slow down the spread of some types of cancer. One recent study demonstrated that resveratrol helps induce the death of cancer cells already present in the body. This substance also stops the growth of blood vessels near tumors, blocking their food supply.
The powerful antioxidants, particularly polyphenols, present in purple foods help protect your cells from radical damage, either from illness or aging. Blueberries, for example, are often noted as a high-antioxidant food. Antioxidants help your cells keep functioning just as they should, reducing your risk for chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. In addition, they boost brain and gut health.
Purple foods to add to your diet
If you are looking for some ideas on purple foods to add to your diet, here are 10 you can easily find at your local grocery store.
- Berries. Your favorite dark berries, including blackberries, blueberries, and black chokeberries, are packed with antioxidants.
- Purple carrots. Branch out beyond the orange! Purple carrots pack their own unique punch.
- Purple cauliflower. Colored cauliflower not only brightens up your dinner plate, but also has special healing properties.
- Beets. Mmmm, beets. Cook up some borscht to benefit from an array of nutrients and powerful anti-inflammatory compounds.
- Purple Potatoes. Not only do purple potatoes make eating your sides more fun, they’re also better for you, with four times the antioxidants of a Russet.
- Eggplant. Stir up a stirfry with this nightshade vegetable and benefit from its high levels of nutrients and antioxidants. It might even offer a brain boost!
- Grapes. Debating between green and purple? Go with the purple shade for a bigger antioxidant boost.
- Purple cabbage. Purple cabbage doesn’t just pretty up tacos or slaw—it also is more nutrient-rich than its pale counterpart.
- Plums. Look for this nutrient-laden stone fruit in the fall.
- Pomegranates. Like other purple fruits, pomegranates are laden with antioxidants. They’re also chock full of vitamin C.
We bet you’ve heard that old adage to “eat the rainbow,” but there’s a reason you should be looking for brightly hued foods to add to your plate. Whether purple, orange, or yellow, pops of color add nutrients, antioxidants, and flavor to your meal.
Purple foods are powerhouses
While research on the cancer-fighting properties of purple foods is still developing, there are plenty of established benefits of purple foods. Adding these foods into your diet is a good move for many reasons:
- Purple foods fight ulcers. In 2011, a study found that eating purple foods can help reduce the formation of ulcers. The nutrients in purple plants prevent oxidation and also boost the performance of antioxidants that help prevent the growth and even formation of ulcers.
- Purple foods benefit your liver. If you have any liver damage, particularly from alcohol, introducing purple foods (especially black rice) can help heal your liver.
- Purple foods are good for your heart. Particularly in berries, the high content of anthocyanins helps lower “bad” LDL cholesterol and raise “good” HDL cholesterol.
Purple foods prevent and speed the healing of urinary tract infections. If you had a UTI as a kid, how many ounces of cranberry juice did your mom make you drink? Well, mom sure know what she was doing. Cranberries and other purple foods fight H. pylori, the bacteria that promotes urinary tract infections.
Other foods that can prevent cancer stem cells
Purple foods are the largest category of cancer-fighting foods, but there are several other options that can benefit your health and wellbeing and help prevent cancer. Most of the studies on these foods are in the first stages of development, so keep that in mind. Here are 5 other foods to add to your mealtime rainbow:
- Broccoli. Broccoli contains sulforaphane, a compound that may have “potent anticancer properties.” There are 35 known studies that show eating more cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli and cauliflower) can help lower your risk of colon and colorectal cancer.
- Carrots. We’ve already mentioned purple carrots, but run-of-the-mill orange carrots also contain known cancer-fighting agents. The number of studies on carrots and cancer is pretty impressive, showing that eating carrots can lower the risk of stomach cancer by up to 26% and prostate cancer by 18%.
- Nuts. A rather large study looked at 19,386 people and found that consuming a large number of nuts was associated with a lowered risk of dying from cancer.
- Citrus fruits. Citrus is really a powerful food when it comes to our health. There are dozens of studies that link citrus fruits and their ability to prevent the development of cancer in the body.
- Tomatoes—The same compound that gives tomatoes their beautiful red color, lycopene, is also well known for its anti-cancer properties. How’s that for a color boost?
Your diet can reduce your risk of cancer
It’s important to remember that just adding or eating more of the foods mentioned here will not completely erase your chances of getting cancer. Unfortunately, there are dozens of other factors that contribute to the growth of cancer cells in your body.
But cancer-fighting foods do offer a significant boost in your ability to ward off dangerous cancer cells—and they offer heart, brain, and gut boosts, too.
So, try to add a little purple to your plate at each meal. Every little bit helps. This week, when you’re making your meal plan or grocery list, start with one purple plant. Before you know it, you’ll be a purple pro!