What you eat can truly determine the quality of your life. Food really is medicine! Ever since I was diagnosed with cancer, I have been really looking into the quality of the food I eat and making sure that what I eat has nutritional value. Despite loving to cook, I do tend to get into too much of a routine with what to make, so after learning about all of these spices that have anti-cancer properties, I’m excited to start creating more recipes with these in mind!
Research has been done that prove that certain plants, herbs, and spices contain phytochemicals which can influence our bodies chemical processes (for the better!). Phytochemicals are super important to us because they can stimulate the immune system, reduce inflammation, prevent DNA damage, and reduce the oxidative damage in cells that can cause cancer. I’ve rounded up a few of the spices that I’ve learned about, that are healing for you –
Turmeric specifically contains a chemical compound called curcumin. Curcumin is anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant. I actually take a daily turmeric supplement, that contains black pepper which will activate curcmin’s full powers. If you don’t take a supplement, keep the turmeric and black pepper combination in mind when cooking to get the full benefits of this amazing spice. I typically sprinkle turmeric on eggs in the morning and also on my baked salmon. I know it can be equally as delicious on veggies as well!
Garlic is recognized for having over 100 unique phytochemicals. The most significant active compound is called allicin, which contains a high concentration of sulfur-containing amino acids. It strengthens the immune system, can reduce blood pressure, and has anti-carcinogenic qualities. Luckily in a lot of Korean food that I eat, garlic is a main ingredient (like in this Korean potsticker recipe) but it can also be mixed into spreads, added to vegetable or meat dishes – it’s truly versatile and so widely available.
Ginger, like garlic, is also widely available. The chemical compound in ginger that provides its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that protect against cancer are called gingerol and zingerone. Gingerol is within fresh ginger and zingerone is formed when ginger is dried. It’s easy to cook with in so many recipes but another good way to incorporate ginger is by slicing a few pieces and adding it to a soothing tea. It helps with nausea and stomachaches as well.
The active substance within black pepper is called piperine. Piperine is the chemical compound that has strong antioxidant properties. As mentioned above, pepper along with turmeric, can inhibit the growth of cancer cells, specifically. Pepper adds a slight kick and is so good in a wide variety of dishes – from breakfast staples like eggs to salads to the protein of your choice.
Cayenne contains capsaicin which is a powerful antioxidant. Studies have been done that show that capsaicin is actually toxic to cancer cells. One study done at UCLA actually showed that capsaicin inhibited the growth of prostate cancer cells and even killed them off. I’ve put cayenne pepper on popcorn as well as on dry rubs for my protein and I love the kick it gives to the taste!
The active compound in oregano contains carvacrol which has been shown can help offset the spread of cancer cells. Oregano is an easy spice to incorporate especially in Italian food like pizza and pasta. When you marinate foods with oregano though I learned that that also reduces the formation of heterocyclic amines (the chemical created when meats are cooked at high temperatures).
This is just a quick round up of some spices I’ve learned about that have cancer preventing properties. There are so many out there! Let’s get creative in the kitchen together 🙂