Favorite Holiday Foods that Fight Cancer

cranA cancer-beating holiday buffet

This is the season for showing your family how much you love them. And what better way is there to do that than piling your holiday buffet high with delicious cancer-fighting foods?

Here are a few seasonal favorites that will help your loved ones live long and healthy lives.

First up, one of my favorites: cranberries. These tart little fruits are packed with benzoic acid. This can block the growth of some types of leukemia as well as lung cancer and colon cancer. If you’re as big a fan of cranberries as I am, buy them fresh now. They’re at the peak of their nutritional value, and you can capture that power by freezing them to use later. Let’s face it, that gelled can version can’t hold a candle to the real thing.

Often, making cranberry sauce for the holiday table can mean loading up on sugar. While a little sweet is needed to cut the sour, I have found that you can cut more than half of the sugar out of the recipe on the back and still have a great side dish. I’ve also had luck substituting agave or stevia (but not Truvia).

Apples are another favorite of the season that could help prevent several types of cancer. They contain quercetin, which protects your cells’ DNA from the kind of damage that can lead to cancer. This nutrient can also slash your stroke risk by more than 50 percent.

Of course, you may be tempted to take that as permission to cut yourself a giant piece of apple pie. If it’s a very occasional indulgence, go for it–I mean, it IS Christmas time after all! But if you really want to get the most out of your apples, eat them raw with the skin on. I found an interesting recipe for a raw apple crisp at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Finally, make sure there’s plenty of the color orange featured in your holiday spread. Squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, and pumpkins contain carotenoids, which have been associated with prevention of cancers of the colon, prostate, breasts, and lungs. (Bonus: Carotenoids have also been linked to shedding abdominal fat.)

Lately, I’ve been making a ridiculously easy soup with butternut squash. I roast the squash until it’s fork-tender, and then chop it up and put it in a pot with chicken or vegetable broth and a dash of salt and pepper. My stick blender makes short work of liquefying the squash, and I heat it until it’s nice and warm.

It’s no secret: I love food. And I love it even more when it packs a powerful disease-fighting punch. I’m happiest when I’m serving my family and friends a delicious meal, while knowing that I’m taking care of them at the same time.

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