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PHYTONUTRIENTS: NATURE'S PHARMACY

Beyond the benefits of vitamins and fiber, fruits, vegetables, and grains are ripe with substances called phytochemicals, from the Greek word for plant - phyto.

Researchers are conducting some promising studies that suggest these substances may help prevent cancer. In fact, the antioxidant vitamins C, E, and A (beta carotene) are actually a class of phytochemicals, helping to protect cells against free radical damage. The following table outlines some phytochemicals that may reduce breast cancer risk and a list of the foods they're found in.

 



Phytochemical


Possible breast cancer fighting property
 


Foods to find them in
 
Flavonoids Exhibits estrogen-blocking activity. May inhibit tumor development and deactivate carcinogens. Orange and grapefruit juice, other citrus fruits, carrots, berries, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, cabbage, apples, tea, and red wine
Limonoids Increases production of protective enzymes that may help the body dispose of carcinogens. In animal studies, large doses of limonene actually shrunk breast cancer tumors. Orange and grapefruit juice, citrus fruits
Monoterpenes Acts like antioxidants and aids protective enzyme activity. Citrus fruits and juices, tomatoes, squash, yams, mint, basil, broccoli, and garlic
Genistein Mimics estrogen, so body makes less of the real hormone. It also prevents estrogen from entering cells. Soy foods, such as tofu
Lignans Exhibits estrogen-blocking activity. Flaxseed (a grain)
Indoles Stimulates enzymes that make the hormone estrogen less effective. Retard growth of breast tumors in animals. Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and brussel sprouts
Allyl sulfides May block action of cancer-causing chemicals. Garlic, onions, leeks, and chives




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