Nutrition and Fitness, Your Health Lindsay Guinaugh | 7 years ago

6 Cancer Fighting Cooking Methods

In the war against cancer, it’s smart to eat certain foods that combat the disease, like broccoli, berries or garlic. But did you know that how you prepare these foods also has an impact on their cancer-fighting ability?

“Studies have shown that preserving the cancer-fighting properties of foods extends beyond food processing and into your kitchen,” said Pat Fogarty MS, RDN, LDN, Outpatient Wellness Dietitian with Carolinas HealthCare System’s Levine Cancer Institute. Try these cooking methods to maximize the cancer-fighting power in your food:

1. Steam Your Broccoli:

Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts) are great sources of sulforaphane, an anti-cancer phytonutrient. They contain the enzyme myrosinase which is essential to the formation of sulforaphane. If you microwave or boil broccoli, you destroy the majority of the myrosinase. Studies show that steaming these vegetables for no more than five minutes is the best way to retain the enzyme and preserve the sulforaphane.

2. Cook Tomatoes:

Tomatoes contain a powerful antioxidant called lycopene which is associated with reducing the risk of various types of cancer, especially prostate cancer. “Cooking tomatoes for a few minutes releases a form of lycopene that is better absorbed than lycopene found in raw tomatoes,” said Fogarty. “In addition, if you use a little olive or canola oil during cooking you can also increase the amount of lycopene absorbed by the body."

3. Wait to Cook Garlic:

Crush or chop garlic, then wait 10 to 15 minutes before cooking it. This allows a special anticancer phytochemical called allicin to form. Allicin blocks cancer-causing agents (carcinogens) and slows down the cancer cells’ rapid cell division.

4. Add Ginger or Turmeric:

The spice turmeric contains curcumin, which gives curry powder its yellow color. “Curcumin is one of the most powerful anti-inflammatories that we know of,” said Fogarty. Tumeric is most effective when it is prepared with black pepper and some oil as you find in traditional Indian dishes. In addition, researchers are studying ginger, a cousin of turmeric, for its ability to reduce inflammation and inhibit the growth of tumors. Be sure to add some minced ginger to your next stir fry.

5. Cook Meat and Fish “Slow and Low”:

Research shows that when foods with muscles like beef, chicken, pork and fish are cooked at high temperature (frying, broiling or grilling) dangerous chemicals called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) form. Researchers have identified 17 HCAs that may pose a cancer risk. “For safer grilling, marinate meat and fish in some oil based marinade for half an hour then precook meats in the microwave,” said Fogarty. “Microwaving meat for two minutes before grilling significantly reduces the HCA content.” While it may take a little longer, using lower cooking temperatures produces fewer HCAs. Grill with a lower flame, cook ground meat on a lower setting and don’t let your meat char. Stewing is also a good cooking method since it creates negligible amounts of the chemicals”.

6. Grill Vegetables or Fruits:

To reduce your consumption of HCAs, grill more vegetables and fruits instead of meat or fish. They don’t produce HCAs and are naturally low in fat and calories. Try grilled portobello mushrooms for a meaty substitute on a burger or alternate small pieces of meat with vegetables or fruit on skewers to maximize flavor and minimize harmful chemicals.