Fruits That Help Prevent Cancer, Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries — these fruits are great sources of antioxidants, which help prevent cancer. That’s why they make the list of top cancer-fighting fruits. This infographic provides detailed information about each fruit and the role it plays in cancer prevention.
Fruits to Eat When You Have Cancer
You already know that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is good for you. But when you’re going through cancer treatment or trying to keep cancer from coming back, some fruits may be better than others.
The research on fruits and cancer isn’t perfect. There aren’t many studies, and the results are often inconsistent. No food, and certainly no one fruit, can prevent or fight cancer.
Still, certain types of fruits may have cancer-fighting qualities. Others can make it easier for you to cope with the side effects of treatments.
Fruit During Cancer Treatment
Fruit provides nutrients that you need during cancer treatment. Some fruits may also help ease discomfort. Experts recommend these, depending on how you feel:
- For nausea and vomiting: canned fruit, applesauce, peaches, and other soft fruit
- For constipation: raw fruits, dried fruits, prune juice
- For diarrhea: fruit juices, bananas, and apples as part of the BRAT (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast) diet
- For loss of appetite: high-calorie foods, including dried fruit and fruit smoothies
- For mouth sores: nectars, apple juice, canned fruit, applesauce
Citrus fruit, like grapefruits and oranges, may have a role in preventing certain cancers. One large study in Japan found that people who had citrus fruits or juices 3-4 days a week were less likely to get cancer than those who had them 2 or fewer days a week.
Though the research results aren’t clear-cut, they show that citrus might help fend off several types of cancer:
Apples and Other ‘White’ Fruit
At least one meta-analysis — a study that looks at lots of previous research on a subject — linked apples with a reduced risk for cancer. The link seems strongest for lung cancer. But apples may also help protect against:
- Breast cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Other cancers of the digestive tract
Another study found that eating white vegetables and fruits, like apples, pears, mushrooms, and onions, may help protect against colorectal cancer. (Apples and pears are considered white because of their flesh.)
The possible benefit from apples probably comes from two substances they contain: polysaccharides, a type of carbohydrate, and quercetin, a plant pigment. Both may help fight cancer cells.
Green fruits may help protect against colorectal cancer, according to the same study that looked at white fruits and veggies. Green fruits include:
- Honeydew melon
- Green grapes
Other research also suggests kiwifruit may help prevent cancer. That’s partly because of the fruit’s antioxidants, and partly because kiwifruit promotes a healthy gut.
Dried fruit like prunes and raisins can be a healthy choice. Research shows that regularly eating dried fruit may help ward off some types of cancer. It might also help keep cancer from getting worse.
Eating three to five servings of dried fruits a week may help prevent:
- Colorectal polyps, growths in your large intestine that aren’t cancerous but could eventually turn into cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Death from pancreatic cancer
- Stomach cancer
Other Fruits That May Fight Cancer
Researchers are studying a range of plant chemicals that may play a role in cancer prevention, including:
- Bromelain, an enzyme in pineapples
- Carotenoids, plant pigments often found in orange fruits
- Antioxidants in pomegranates
The research is in its early stages, so we really don’t know yet if these plant chemicals have cancer benefits. But at the least, these fruits are high in fiber. Fiber can help reduce your risk of certain cancers and help you maintain a healthy weight.
36 foods that may help lower your cancer risk
Looking for a list of cancer-fighting foods to add to your grocery list? Our expert says you can reduce – but not eliminate – your cancer risk by focusing on plants and making healthy food choices.
Is there such a thing as a cancer-fighting food? Can certain foods prevent cancer?
Unfortunately, the answer is “no.” There is no food that can stop cancer in its tracks or bring your risk of developing cancer to zero. Eating healthy food can reduce your risk, but it won’t eliminate it.
“There are many different causes for cancer,” says Lindsey Wohlford, wellness dietitian. “Research tells us that making healthy food choices consistently over time can reduce your risk of getting cancer, but you can’t say with absolute certainty that food can prevent cancer. There are no guarantees.”
Wohlford’s advice for reducing cancer risk through food:
- Focus on plants (veggies, whole grains, nuts, fruit and plant-based protein)
- Make choices that will help you manage your weight.
- Avoid foods that are known to increase cancer risk.
When you see a list of “cancer-fighting foods”, they are often plant foods loaded with phytochemicals, also called phytonutrients. Phytochemicals are compounds found in plants that can help prevent chronic diseases like cancer.
The list is usually topped with berries, broccoli, tomatoes, walnuts, grapes and other vegetables, fruits and nuts.
“If you look at the typical foods that reduce cancer risk, it’s pretty much all plant foods that contain phytochemicals,” says Wohlford.
But she cautions shoppers not to focus on a specific list of “cancer-fighting” foods to the exclusion of other healthy foods in the produce section.
“Keep in mind that there are more than 4,000 phytochemicals that have been discovered and researched,” she says. “There’s not any one super-food that contains all of them. They all offer different functions and benefits.”
A good way to add variety to your cancer-fighting food list is to make sure you include a variety of colors. You can get the most protection by eating a wide variety of plant foods.
Make a healthy food list to help you manage your weight
Eating too much of anything can increase body fat, which increases your cancer risk. Obesity is linked to 12 types of cancer.
“Foods that are lower in calories and sugar and higher in fiber can help you manage your weight. All those things reduce the number of calories you consume,” says Wohlford. “Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the most important things you can do to reduce your cancer risk.”
Before you head to the grocery store, keep these tips in mind. They can help you simplify your list and make healthier choices when you get to the store.
Keep your menu simple. You don’t need a complicated list of ingredients to make a healthy, tasty meal.
- Don’t be afraid of frozen vegetables and fruit (not in sauce or juice).
- Choose whole grains. Fiber is important for blood sugar control and weight management
- Choose foods that fight inflammation. That includes fatty fish like salmon and sardines, whole grains like brown rice and probiotics like yogurt and kombucha
One more tip: Shop the outer edges of the store. The perimeter of the store has less processed foods.
“While there are some foods that are great down the aisles, as a general rule, the whole foods are around the perimeter of the store,” says Wohlford.
If you are going to buy something in a package, read the nutrition label first. If the item has more than two or three ingredients, think about a different choice. The nutrition label will also give you valuable information about the salt and sugar in the food you are considering.
Foods that can increase your cancer risk
Just as there are foods that can reduce your cancer risk, there are foods that can increase it. Make it a point to steer clear of these foods when you go shopping.
- Avoid processed meat. Processed meats like hot dogs, bacon and any meat you find at the deli counter, have compounds that cause cancer. Even processed meats that say they are “nitrate free” or “uncured” should be avoided.
- Limit red meat. Aim for no more than 18 ounces of cooked red meat per week. Instead, choose lean chicken, fish or plant-based protein.
- Avoid alcohol. Women should have no more than one serving of alcohol per day. Men should have no more than two servings of alcohol per day. Less is better.
One final tip: Before you head to the store, plan to fill two-thirds of every plate with vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
You won’t eliminate your cancer risk by eating certain foods. But if you focus on eating a plant-based diet and maintaining a healthy weight, you will go a long way in reducing your risk.
A plant-based diet can help lower your cancer risk
The best cancer-fighting foods
No foods protect people against cancer completely. The term cancer-fighting foods refers to foods that may lower the risk of developing cancer if a person adds them to their diet.
This article looks at the best cancer-fighting foods and explains the science that supports these claims.
Foods that contain naturally occurring compounds that have potent anticancer properties include:
The phrase “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” actually rings fairly true. Apples contain polyphenols that have promising anticancer properties.
Polyphenols are plant-based compounds that may prevent inflammation, cardiovascular disease, and infections.
Some research suggests that polyphenols possess anticancer and tumor-fighting properties.
For example, the polyphenol phloretin inhibits a protein called glucose transporter 2 (GLUT2) plays a role in advanced-stage cell growth in certain types of cancer.
One study from 2018 in the Journal of Food and Drug Analysis suggests that apple phloretin significantly inhibits the growth of breast cancer cells, while not affecting normal cells.
Berries are rich in vitamins, minerals, and dietary fibers. Scientists have shown a lot of interest in berries due to their antioxidant properties and potential health benefits.
One studyTrusted Source shows that anthocyanin, which is a compound in blackberries, lowers biomarkers for colon cancer.
Another studyTrusted Source demonstrates that the anti-inflammatory effects of blueberries can prevent the growth of breast cancer tumors in mice.
Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and kale, contain beneficial nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin K, and manganese.
Cruciferous vegetables also contain sulforaphane, a plant compound with anticancer properties.
One study shows that sulforaphane significantly inhibits cancer cell growth and stimulates cell death in colon cancer cells.
Another study shows that sulforaphane in combination with genistein, a compound in soybeans, can significantly inhibit breast cancer tumor development and size. Sulforaphane also inhibits histone deacetylase, an enzyme with links to cancer development.
One review recommends 3 to 5 servingsTrusted Source of cruciferous vegetables per week for the best cancer-preventive effects.
Carrots contain several essential nutrients including vitamin K, vitamin A, and antioxidants.
Carrots also contain high amounts of beta-carotene, which is responsible for the distinct orange color.
Recent studies reveal that beta-carotene plays a vital role in supporting the immune system and may prevent certain types of cancer.
A review of eight studies shows that beta-carotene has links to a reduction in the risk of breast and prostate cancer.
Another analysis shows that higher consumption of carrots results in a 26 percentTrusted Source lower risk of developing stomach cancer.
Fatty fish, including salmon, mackerel, and anchovies, is rich in essential nutrients, such as vitamin B, potassium, and omega-3 fatty acids.
One study found that people whose diets were high in freshwater fish had a 53 percentTrusted Source lower risk for colorectal cancer than those low in freshwater fish.
Another studyTrusted Source found that consumption of fish oil later in life has links to significantly lower risk for prostate cancer.
Finally, a study following 68,109 people found that people who consumed fish oil supplements at least four times a week were 63 percentTrusted Source less likely to develop colon cancer than those who did not.
According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, all nuts exhibit cancer-preventing properties, but scientists have studied walnuts more than other types of nut.
Walnuts contain a substance called pedunculagin, which the body metabolizes into urolithins. Urolithins are compounds that bind to estrogen receptors and may play a role in preventing breast cancer.
In one animal studyTrusted Source, mice receiving whole walnuts and walnut oil had higher levels of tumor-suppressing genes than the mice receiving vegetable oil.
Legumes, such as beans, peas, and lentils, are high in fiber, which may help lower a person’s risk of developing cancer.
One meta-analysisTrusted Source of 14 studies shows an association between higher legume consumption and lower risk of colorectal cancer.
Another studyTrusted Source examines the relationship between the intake of bean fiber and risk of breast cancer.
The study results indicate that people who ate diets high in bean fiber were 20 percent less likely to develop breast cancer than those who did not meet their daily fiber intake.
Supplements and medications
Although the foods listed above are everyday products and readily available, some people may not want to make significant dietary or lifestyle changes. In this case, there are plenty of supplements and medications available that contain anticancer compounds.
Vitamins A, C, and E are notable for their anticancer properties and are available as supplements in most major grocery stores.
Most of the plant-based compounds listed throughout this article, such as phloretin, anthocyanin, and sulforaphane, come in pill form.
Over-the-counter medications, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, may also lower the risk of cancer in some people.
Always speak to a medical professional before starting a new medication or supplement regimen.
Exotic Fruits That Fight Cancer & Where You Can Travel To Try Them
Research suggests approximately 30-40% of cancer diagnoses could be prevented by modest diet and lifestyle changes. The easiest way to make positive changes is to add more nutrient-packed plants to one’s diet!
Though the United States has a variety of tasty fruits and hearty vegetables, it only offers a small fraction of the fruit family. Across the world, hidden in foreign countries, are thousands of types of exotic fruits – all packed with unique nutrients with extensive health benefits.
Looking for some bucket list inspiration?
Check out these 5 cancer-fighting exotic fruits and learn where to travel to taste them!
- Soursop Fruit
This spiny green superfruit boasts a dense array of nutrients and antioxidants that studies show are highly effective at destroying cancer cells and warding off chronic disease. Soursop is rich in B vitamins, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and iron.
Add Central and South America to the bucket list to try soursop fruit!
Cupuaçu is a fragrant fruit with a chocolatey pineapple flavor found deep in the heart of the Amazon.
Rich in vitamins B1, B2, B3, and fatty and amino acids, along with 9 protective antioxidants including vitamin C and A, this fantastic fruit also contains selenium, calcium, and other health-promoting minerals. Cupuaçu’s dense nutrients and antioxidants can help prevent various cancers, including mouth, throat, esophagus, stomach, and colon.
Travel to South America – particularly Brazil – to try cupuaçu.
- Goji Berry
One of the most highly regarded berries in Asia, goji berry has been a staple of Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years.
Goji berry has been extensively researched regarding cancer, where it’s shown high immunoactivity. Human trials involving the use of goji berry as a cancer treatment have led to positive outcomes in tumor regression. They have demonstrated benefits in stopping the growth and spread of cancer cells.
Pack your bags and book a ticket to China to taste test these miracle berries!
Dragonfruit is a stunning pink fruit that comes in three vibrant colors. Two have pink skin; one has white flesh, one has red flesh, and another has yellow skin with white flesh.
Lycopene gives this fruit its rich color, and according to the National Cancer Institute, may protect against certain cancers. Results from animal studies have shown that lycopene may have chemopreventive effects for prostate, breast, lung, liver, and skin cancer.
Take your pick of these incredible destinations to try dragonfruit: Southeast Asia, Central and South America, Israel, or Mexico.
- Gardenia Fruit
You may have heard of a gardenia plant with beautiful, aromatic white flowers. This plant bears deep orange-colored fruit in October that, while a little bitter, are packed with vitamins that benefit the body.
Consumption of gardenia fruit directly inhibits a mitochondrial protein known as UCP2. This protein protects cancer cells, shielding them from oxidative stress by inhibiting mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation. Put simply, gardenia fruit is potently anti-tumoral while exhibiting selective toxicity only against malignant cells.
While commonly used in Korea, you can also travel to Africa, Asia, Madagascar and Pacific Islands, and Australia to try gardenia fruit.