Six cancer-fighting herbs and spices
Cancer protection starts with your spice rack!
By Cynthia Wigutow, MS, RDN, CSO, LDN, FAND
Board Certified Specialist in Oncology & Dietetics
Memorial Cancer Institute
Herbs and spices can do so much more than enhance the flavor of food. They can help stimulate the immune system and help prevent cancer.
Here are six ways to spice up your food and keep you in good health.
1) Turmeric: It’s a yellow curry powder (active polyphenol ingredient is curcumin) that is shown to inhibit growth of cancer cells. It is also an anti-inflammatory.
Tip: Mix with black pepper (piperine) and olive oil to activate and help with absorption. It can be used as a dry rub or added to soups, sauces and stews.
2) Ginger: Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties protect against cancer. It is also used as a herbal remedy for upset stomach and nausea, and can serve as an appetite stimulant.
Tip: Steep a few thin slices in hot water for 10 minutes to create a soothing tea.
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3) Cayenne Pepper: This hot pepper contains capsaicin, a powerful antioxidant that helps with weight loss and is an anti-inflammatory food. Cayenne also contains beta-carotene. It is known to be toxic to cancer cells and helps prevent growth of cancer cells.
4) Saffron: This spice may be the most expensive, but it packs a good punch. It contains crocins (water-soluble carotenoids) that may inhibit tumor growth and progression of cancer.
5) Oregano: The richest source of antioxidants among herbs slows cancer growth and promotes apoptosis (cell death). It carries antibacterial properties and is a natural disinfectant.
Tip: Marinating with oregano can help reduce the formation of heterocyclic amines (HCAs) created when meat is cooked at high temperatures.
6) Garlic: The most powerful anti-cancer spice is part of the cancer-fighting allium group (onions, shallots, scallions, leeks, chives). Garlic helps boost the immune system to help fight diseases, as well as colds and flu. It also decreases the growth of cancer cells.
Tip: Take one daily dose - 1 clove and remember to “chop and stop” – chop and then let it sit for 10 minutes before using to allow for the formation of allicin (enzyme).
Cancer protection starts with your spice rack. Let’s add spice to our lives!
Cynthia Wigutow is a registered and licensed dietitian with about two decades of experience in acute and long-term care settings. She earned her Bachelor of Science in dietetics and nutrition from the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, Texas, and her Master of Science in dietetics and nutrition from Florida International University in Miami.
Cynthia currently serves as president of the Florida Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.