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Pack your diet with a punch against prostate cancer

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Rio Grande Cancer Foundation
Rio Grande Cancer Foundation
Rio Grande Cancer Foundation
  Ted Escobedo   5 min read 6 years ago

Pack your diet with a punch against prostate cancer

Prostate cancer rates are on the rise, but by adding some healthy, prostate-friendly foods to your diet, you may be able to reduce your risk.

According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men, affecting 1 in 7 men in the United States. It’s believed that the high-fat, high-sugar Western diet may contribute to increased rates of prostate cancer. You’ll still need to see your doctor for regular prostate cancer screenings, but you can start boosting your prostate health by trying these six foods.

1. Tomatoes

Tomatoes contain a powerful antioxidant called lycopene. It may help prevent prostate cancer as well as reduce tumor growth among men with prostate cancer. Further research is needed to confirm a benefit, but in one review of 11 studies, researchers found a trend suggesting that men who ate more tomatoes and tomato-based products, both raw and cooked, may be less likely to develop prostate cancer.

How exactly do tomatoes help? Lycopene may decrease cell damage and slow cancer cell production. But because lycopene is tightly bound to cell walls, our bodies have a difficult time extracting it from raw tomatoes. Cooked or pureed tomato products may be better options. Look to products like these:

  • tomato paste
  • spaghetti sauce
  • sun-dried tomatoes
  • tomato juice
  • ketchup

How to add more tomatoes to your diet

Eating Italian-style foods, like pizza and pasta, may help you incorporate more tomato-based foods into your diet. Focus on Italian-style foods that use a tomato base, like spaghetti Bolognese or a caprese salad.

In the summer months, you can buy fresh, local tomatoes to slice atop sandwiches and chop into salads. Drinking plain tomato juice each morning is another good option, just make sure to pick a low-sodium variety.

2. Broccoli

Broccoli is a vegetable that contains many complex compounds that may help protect some people from cancer. Some studies suggest there’s a link between the amount of cruciferous vegetables you eat and your prostate cancer risk. The reasons why are still unclear, but researchers propose that one of the phytochemicals found in these vegetables, called sulforaphane, selectively targets and kills cancer cells while leaving normal prostate cells healthy and unaffected.

How to add more broccoli to your diet

You can put broccoli in stir-fries, soups, and salads, or you can just eat it on its own with some dip. If you worry about fresh vegetables going bad, consider buying frozen broccoli that you can cook whenever you have the time.

3. Green tea

Green tea is a beverage that has been consumed for thousands of years. It has traditionally been a large part of peoples’ diets in Asian countries. It’s not clear if green tea is the reason why prostate cancer rates in Asia are so much lower than in the United States. However, components of green tea are being studied for their effects on health.

These include:

  • catechin
  • xanthine derivatives
  • epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG)
  • epicatechin

There’s now some evidence to support that these compounds found in green tea may prevent the development of prostate cancer. In a review published by Chinese Medicine, researchers found a decreased risk of prostate cancer among men who consumed more than five cups of green tea per day.

How to add more green tea to your diet

Start by drinking a cup each morning in place of your regular coffee. If you don’t drink caffeine, try a decaffeinated version, and if you don’t like warm tea, try cooling it in your refrigerator and adding ice for a cool and refreshing beverage. You can also use cooled tea as the liquid in your homemade smoothies.

4. Legumes and soybeans

Legumes, such as beans, peanuts, and lentils, contain biologically active plant compounds known as phytoestrogens. Isoflavones are one such phytoestrogen. They may contain cancer-fighting properties. This could suppress tumor growth in prostate cancer cells.

While there’s still a need for more conclusive research, the preliminary research reported by the National Cancer Institute shows a link between the consumption of soy and reduced levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA). PSA is a protein produced by your prostate. The PSA test measures the level of PSA in your blood and is used as a screening test for prostate cancer. This research also seemed to indicate soy was more effective when it was eaten in combination with other cancer-fighting foods.

How to add more legumes and soybeans to your diet

To add more legumes and soybeans to your diet, consider eating a vegetarian diet for one day each week. Some people try what is called a Meatless Monday. This way, you can replace meat with the protein from beans.

Try making a black bean burger with lots of veggies. Or you can dip pretzels in a homemade hummus made with chickpeas. Tofu is a tasty source of soy that you can bake or brown on your stove and flavor with sauces.

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