Top Cancer Causing Foods: How to Replace Them in Your Diet
As always, we did our research and compiled the latest information on cancer-causing foods. We prepared a list of the top 7 cancer-causing foods based on scientific studies. Limiting or even better, avoiding these foods will reduce your risk of developing cancer. Don’t worry though, this doesn’t mean you have to be on a starvation diet. We’ve got some healthy yet very tasty alternatives for you!
This blog was written by Angela Azar , Licensed Dietitian and intern at Healthy Happy Us and edited by Rola Ghaddar, US Registered Dietitian and Certified Health Coach at Healthy Happy Us, a nutrition and exercise diet center in Beirut, Lebanon.
The Top 7 Cancer Causing Foods
One of the biggest cancer threats are refined sugars. Sugar is the main fuel for cancer cells, without it cancer cells can’t grow and spread. Did you know that there are around 10 teaspoons of sugar in sweetened fruit juices and sodas?
How to replace sugar:
- Enjoy 2-3 dates with a few almonds to savour your sweet cravings.
- Use honey as a sweetener (in moderation) instead of sugar. Honey is filled with nutrients, unlike sugar which is contains absolutely no nutrients i.e empty calories.
- Enjoy fruit infused water instead of fruit juice or sodas.
- Bake your own sugar-free desserts. Here’s a link to a delicious vegan sugar free brownie recipe.
Tip: Start reading food labels. Sugars are hiding everywhere!
Our team actually went on a sugar free challenge during the month of Ramadan. Check out this blog to know more about our experience and healthy sugar alternatives.
2- Processed Meat
Processed meats include foods such as smoked turkey, hot-dogs, pepperoni, bologna etc. There is no doubt that these food items contain harmful chemicals due to the processing methods that they undergo. The nitrates and nitrites present to keep the cured meat looking pink, are known to be carcinogenic.
How to replace them:
- A much healthier source of proteins includes natural peanut butter and hummus. Spread 1 tbsp of peanut butter on a whole grain toast with some chopped bananas or enjoy some crunchy carrots with a hummus dip.
- Prepare a mixed green salad with quinoa, walnuts and dried fruits of your choice to boost your protein intake.
3- Red Meat
Studies have shown that a high consumption of beef, lamb, and pork have been associated with increased risk of developing cancer. Try to limit your consumption to 1-2 times per week!
How to replace them:
- Choose more protein rich stews such as cooked beans, lentils, peas with whole grain rice.
- Enjoy some grilled fish, salmon, shrimps with steamed veggies and baked potato at least twice a week. This way, you will also be boosting your omega-3 intake!
Tip: Grass-fed, hormone-free and organic meat are much safer to consume.
4- Refined Carbohydrates
When carbohydrates, such as flour are refined i.e. without their shell, all the nutritional value and fibers are removed. Moreover, excess amounts spike up your blood sugar level and have been positively associated with cancer.
How to replace them:
- In your stews, choose whole grain rice or bulgur, freekeh and quinoa.
- For breakfast and dinner use whole grain toast and bread, bran cereal or oats to boost your fiber intake.
5- Burned or Heavily Barbecued Foods
Grilling at high temperatures exposes the meat to carcinogenic chemicals. Avoid charred meat or any animal food product that has browned or burnt/blackened parts.
How to barbecue safely:
- Flip your meat frequently to avoid overdone layers. Keep in mind, smaller meat pieces cook more quickly and at lower temperatures.
- Marinate your meat with high antioxidant foods such as thyme, rosemary and chili.
- Fill up your grill with veggies! Plant foods when grilled do not produce cancerous chemicals like meats.
6- Trans fat and hydrogenated fats
Trans fats and hydrogenated fats have been strongly associated with cancer and other diseases. They are especially found in baked goods, fried foods, cookies, chips, commercial peanut butter and salad dressings.
How to replace:
- Cook your foods with healthy oils such as olive oils, coconut oil.
- Instead of frying food, start grilling and seasoning it with your favorite herbs and spices.
- Go for all natural peanut butter options or make your own. Check out this blog for a homemade peanut butter recipe.
Tip: Always check the ingredients on the label to make sure the products you’re buying do not contain any trans fat or hydrogenated fats.
7- Excessive Alcohol
All alcoholic drinks contain a compound called ethanol. This compound once consumed is turned into acetaldehyde in our bodies which is a known carcinogen. Moreover it damages the cell’s DNA and prevents the body from absorbing nutrients.
Try to limit your consumption of alcohol (all types, even wine).
If you want to decrease your chance of cancer, you can also check out our blog “10 Cancer Fighting Foods: How to Add Them to Your Diet”.
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- 10 Cancer Fighting Foods: How to Add Them to Your Diet! - October 7, 2017