Cancer is amongst the most feared of all ailments. The mere mention of the disease itself brings a feeling of fear and uncertainty. One in six deaths in the world occurs because of cancer. In the year 2020, 10 million people died due to cancer. The figures certainly paint a grim picture but like it is said, every cloud has a silver lining. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) says that despite being the leading cause of death globally, cancer is largely preventable with a healthy diet and simple lifestyle. Poor fruit and vegetable intake has been attributed as one of the risk factors for cancer. 

Understand the Role of Diet in Cancer Prevention

Studies have found that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fiber, omega-3 fats, vitamins, and minerals is protective against some types of cancers. On the other hand, diets high in meat, processed, fried, and smoked foods increase the risk of cancer as they increase the oxidative stress in the body. It is recommended to consume around 400 grams of fruits and vegetables per day which includes 3 portions of vegetables and 2 portions of fruits. Scientific studies have also estimated that cancer incidence decreased by 14% with the consumption of 550 gm – 600 grams of fruit and vegetables per day. 

So, how do fruits and vegetables work as a protective shield from cancer? The answer is that they are rich in bioactive compounds such as phytochemicals, polyphenols, and a variety of antioxidants, which are proven to prevent and treat oxidative damage and inflammation of body cells that act as risk factors for cancer. 
Although there is no definite evidence that eating any particular food can cause or protect from cancer, there are certain foods that can certainly reduce the risk of developing cancer. Read on to learn about five such foods that help lower the cancer risk.

5 Foods that Can Reduce the Risk of Developing Cancer

Here are the top five anti-cancer foods that you can include in your daily diet:

1. Carrots

Rich in carotenoids, carrot is a super-food that lowers your risk for cancer, especially colorectal cancer.  Beta-carotene and other compounds found in carrots have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory action in the body, not allowing cancer-causing free radicals to grow and develop. So, this is your cue to include carrots in your diet in the form of salad, pudding or simply sautéed. 

2. Cruciferous vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables contain sulphur-containing compounds called glucosinolates. These have been found to have anti-cancer effects. Including cruciferous vegetables in your diet can prevent breast, colon, lung, and prostate cancer. The possible mechanisms comprise anti-inflammatory action, inducing cell death, and protection of body cells from carcinogens. Make sure to have broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, turnip, cabbage, and radish regularly to lower your risk for cancer.  For a personalized diet plan, Talk to a Dietician online. 

3. Blueberries 

Blueberries are a storehouse of bioactive compounds such as polyphenols and anthocyanins that have a strong anti-oxidant action. Metabolites of polyphenols are protective against ultraviolet radiation, various environmental pollutants, and pathogens. Berries have been demonstrated to extend protection from cancer primarily of the GI tract and the breast and to a lesser degree of the liver, prostate, pancreas, and lung. Have them frozen, dried, or fresh but you must make them a part of your daily gruel. 

4. Garlic

One of the most favored and widely used flavoring agents, garlic has some amazing health benefits too. According to the American Institute of Cancer Research, garlic contains compounds that have anti-cancer properties. These bioactive compounds such as diallyl trisulfide, allicin, allyl mercaptan diallyl disulfide, and diallyl sulfide can destroy cancer cells in the body. They prevent cancer cells from proliferating and spreading the disease in the body. You can chew on 1-2 garlic cloves every day or use garlic for flavor in your dishes. 

5. Apples

The age-old adage ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ is still relevant especially when it comes to cancer prevention. Loaded with fiber and poly-phenolic compounds, apples inhibit the growth of tumors and protect from cancer. The vitamin C in apples acts as an antioxidant to support immunity and fight cancer cell growth. Apples have also been shown to aid cancer recovery. The fiber content of apples along with the gut microbes creates a cancer-preventive environment. If you are looking for personalized guidance, Ask a Nutritionist through video or audio call, or simply choose to chat online. 


Make food a weapon against cancer. Switch from a meat-based diet to a more plant-based diet for a healthier version of you. Eating healthy certainly does not mean that you can’t indulge once in a while. It is only when negative eating habits become a daily practice that there can be poor health consequences. Try to eat, fresh home-cooked meals instead of frozen, under-cooked, or processed food items as much as possible. When eating out, choose meals that are baked, steamed, or roasted instead of deep-fried. 

For your nutrition-related queries, you can Ask a Nutritionist/Dietician Online while for your concerns related to cancer disease and management, you may Ask an Oncologist online, anytime, from anywhere at Ask A Doctor 24x7.

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Disclaimer: Information provided on this page is not intended to substitute for proper medical advice provided by your healthcare professional. This is only for informational purposes. 

About the Author

Neha Garg

Neha Garg is a clinical dietician and health writer with an outstanding academic and clinical background. A post-graduate from the prestigious Lady Irwin College, she was also a Delhi University topper. With a work experience spanning more than a decade, she has worked for renowned healthcare organizations such as Indraprastha Apollo Hospital and HealthifyMe. An avid reader and health enthusiast, she also develops customized diet plans along with personal diet consultations. Presently, she is working with EbixCash as a senior medical writer.

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