New research has provided further evidence that processed meats can increase the risk of breast cancer. This study, published in the European Journal of Cancer found that women who consumed more than 9 grams of processed meats per day – which is equivalent to around two sausages per week – increased their breast cancer risk by 21%. (more…)
In Part 5 of this series, we introduced you to the Orange and Yellow Phytonutrients, many of which have been shown to help improve vision and eye health. Many of the foods that contain green phytonutrients also help improve eye health. In addition, the green phytonutrients convey a wide variety of unique health benefits.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are green phytonutrients that have been shown to maintain good vision while reducing the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. While these two nutrients are widely found in various supplemental formulas, they are also plentiful in foods, including kale, spinach, leafy greens (turnip, collard, and mustard), romaine lettuce, broccoli, green peas, kiwifruit, and honeydew melon.
Cancer Risk Reduction
Another key group of green phytonutrients are the indoles, which includes indole-3-carbinol and diindolylmethane. These compounds are not only potent antioxidants, they have also been shown to convey significant protection against a variety of cancers. In fact, these indoles have been shown to significantly reduce the risk of breast and prostate cancers while reducing the risk of tumor growth in most types of cancer, including melanoma.
Indoles seem to exhibit their cancer-protection by altering estrogen metabolism to produce less-carcinogenic metabolites. It also seems to directly inhibit the growth of reproductive cancer cells. Indoles are readily found in a variety of vegetables, including broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, bok choy, arugula, Swiss chard, turnips, rutabaga, watercress, cauliflower and kale.
Chlorophyll is another potent antioxidant that is found in all green vegetables. Chlorophyll has also been shown to have anti-cancer properties. Research has shown that chlorophyll can bind to potential carcinogens and interfere with how they are absorbed in the human gastrointestinal tract; these studies suggest that these effects help lower the risk for certain types of cancers, including liver and colon cancer.
Another group of antioxidants that have been found to reduce the risk of cancer are the Blue & Purple Phytonutrients; these will be the subject of our next post.
- Hsu, J; Dev, A; Wing, A; Brew, C; Bjeldanes, L; Firestone, G (2006). “Indole-3-carbinol mediated cell cycle arrest of LNCaP human prostate cancer cells requires the induced production of activated p53 tumor suppressor protein”.
- Kima DS, Jeong YM, Moon SI, Kwon SB, Park KC (2011).” Indole-3-carbinol and ultraviolet B induce apoptosis of human melanoma cells via down-regulation of MITF” Pharmazie.Dec;66(12):982-7.
- Kundu A, Quirit JG, Khouri MG, Firestone GL (2017). Inhibition of oncogenic BRAF activity by indole-3-carbinol disrupts microphthalmia-associated transcription factor expression and arrests melanoma cell proliferation. Mol Carcinog.;56(1):49-61.
- Kundu A,Aronchik I,Quirit JG, Firestone GL (2014). The antiproliferative response of indole-3-carbinol in human melanoma cells is triggered by an interaction with NEDD4-1 and disruption of wild-type PTEN degradation. Mol Cancer Res.;12(11):1621-1634.
Rarely does a day go by when I am not asked what a ‘healthy’ diet is? Some people ask in the hopes of finding the magic combination of foods to achieve a health goal; others ask so they can justify how they want and/or like to eat and/or proselytize how one diet or way of eating is better or worse than others. But most people are just confused about what a health meal really looks like, and it’s no wonder with all the (mis)information out there. (more…)
Antioxidants are everywhere in nature. An easy way to spot them is to look for foods that have a natural, deep color. Most of the compounds responsible for these intense colors are called phytonutrients, and they have been found to have a plethora of benefits for human health. Our previous post looked at the benefits of red phytonutrients; in this post, we will look more closely at their orange and yellow counterparts. (more…)
When you look at food, deep colors tend to catch your eye more – meaning they are often more appealing to you – than less intense, or deep colors. For example,when you look at tomatoes, you will generally reach for a tomato that has a deep red color rather than a tomato that has a little red or pink color. Somewhere in the recesses of our brains, we know that things that have a naturally deep, intense color are better for us; and for the most part that is true. (more…)
Phytonutrients (otherwise known as phytochemicals) are chemical compounds that occur naturally in plants (“phyto” means “plant” in Greek). Some are responsible for color of foods – such as the deep purple color of blueberries; others are responsible for the smells of certain foods – such as the smell of garlic or onions. (more…)