6 cancer-fighting foods that boost the immune system

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While no food or diet can completely protect you from breast cancer, there are foods that can boost your immune system and reduce the risk. Here are some favourites.

Broccoli

This go-to green is high in an enzyme called sulforaphane, which has been shown to reduce cancer risk. It’s best to eat broccoli raw or lightly cooked with garlic and olive oil for maximum effect. Other cruciferous vegetables, such as kale and cabbage, also contain this enzyme, so make sure to include a good variety in your diet daily. Additionally, broccoli is a good source of fibre and vitamin C.

Tomatoes

This juicy fruit is high in carotenoids, an organic pigment that is believed to lower the risk of breast cancer. Other foods with carotenoids include carrots, sweet potatoes, papaya, spinach and kale. Tomatoes are also high in the antioxidant lycopene, which helps to prevent “bad” fat levels in the blood.

Nuts and seeds

High in healthy fats, lignans, zinc, vitamin E, fibre and protein, nuts and seeds should be a part of every diet. Choose sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, Brazil nuts and walnuts, and sprinkle them on your breakfast, in your salad or just have a small handful as an afternoon snack.

Salmon

Omega-3 essential fatty acids are believed to reduce inflammation, which in turn may help reduce the risk of breast cancer. Salmon is also a good source of vitamin A and even vitamin D, both of which are helpful in preventing and fighting cancer. When possible, choose organic or wild salmon.

Olive oil

The Mediterranean diet has long been regarded as one of the world’s healthiest and new research adds strength to this belief. One of the reasons is inclusion of olive oil, according to researchers from the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain, who studied the effects of the diet on 4,200 women aged between 60 and 80 from 2003 to 2009. After five years, they found that women who followed the Mediterranean diet with olive oil had a 68 per cent lower risk of developing breast cancer.

Garlic

It may not be the most socially friendly food, but the health benefits are worth it. Garlic works as an antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory. It also contains the active ingredient allicin, which is believed to help reduce the spread of cancer by slowing blood supply to tumours.