The Best Cooking Methods for Cancer Prevention

The Best Cooking Methods for Cancer Prevention
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Did you know that some cooking methods can reduce your risk of getting cancer? Many studies have shown that our nutrition has a crucial influence on our health, including reducing the risk of serious diseases like cancer. You probably know that it is better to eat whole grains rather than refined grains, and that you should incorporate plenty of fresh vegetables in your diet. But did you know that what’s important is not only what you eat, but also how you cook your food? For example minced or chopped garlic is better for cancer prevention than a whole clove of garlic, and it’s best to soak potatoes in water before putting them in the oven.  So here are some of the best cooking methods for cancer prevention:

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Broccoli

I wrote in the past about the the anti-cancer properties of cruciferous vegetables, and indeed broccoli is a great source of sulforaphane, a component which studies have found to have impressive anti-cancer properties.

The enzyme myrosinase, which is found in broccoli, is essential for the formation of sulforaphane. If you destroy this enzyme while over-cooking broccoli, you also damage the anti-cancer properties of this vegetable.

A research presented in November 2013 at the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) compared between regular cooking, microwave cooking and steaming broccoli and found that steaming broccoli for up to five minutes is the best way to preserve the enzyme myrosinase. Cooking and heating in the microwave for a minute or less destroyed most of the enzymes.

A study published two years earlier in the journal “Nutrition and Cancer” found that eating broccoli sprouts that contain large amounts of the enzyme myrosinase with broccoli increased the formation of sulforaphane.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes contain a powerful antioxidant called lycopene which is associated with reducing the risk of various types of cancer. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, it is recommended to cook tomatoes for a few minutes, as cooking releases the lycopene which is better absorbed in comparison to tomatoes that haven’t been cooked. Adding a little bit of olive oil to cooked tomatoes will further increase the amount of lycopene absorbed in the body.

Garlic

If you crush or chop garlic and then wait 10-15 minutes before exposing it to heat, a  phytochemical called allicin is formed which helps to fight many diseases.

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Allicin is created in a chemical reaction between a component called alliin and the enzyme alliinase. When the garlic is whole, the alliin and the alliinase are separated, but when chopping or mincing the garlic it makes them mix together and create allicin.

So before exposing the chopped garlic to heat, it’s best to wait because heat destroys the enzyme alliinase, so let the enzyme do its job for a while before cooking the garlic. I’ve already written an article about the health benefits of garlic and how to use garlic as a medicine and you can also read my other article about 6 common mistakes when using garlic as an antibiotic. Consuming more garlic is also one of the 70 habits featured in my e-book 70 Powerful Habits For A Great Health which will guide you how to take positive steps to improve your wellness and overall health.

Potatoes 

Potatoes are one of the foods that create a chemical called acrylamide in certain cooking methods. Studies have found that high levels of acrylamide may increase the risk of cancer in animals, and many experts believe that it is likely that this is also the case in humans.

In general, the chances of acrylamide formation increase when the food is prepared for longer periods in high temperatures, such as frying, grilling or baking.

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Recommendations published by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in November 2013, don’t recommend to store potatoes in the refrigerator because this may increase the formation of acrylamide while baking or frying. It is recommended to store potatoes in a cool dark place such as a cupboard or pantry. In addition, it is recommended to soak the potato pieces in water for 15-30 minutes before frying or baking them to reduce the amount of chemicals that will be created in the process.

According to the FDA, when comparing frying, grilling and baking potatoes, frying causes the largest formation of acrylamide. However cooking in water and microwave preparation of whole potatoes in their skins don’t form acrylamide.

Note – if you choose to fry potatoes, for example chips, fry them until they are golden but not brown, as brown areas contain more acrylamide.

Bread

As with potatoes, over-heating bread forms acrylamide. Therefore the FDA recommends to prepare the toast until it is a light brown color and not dark brown. If there are very dark areas, avoid eating them.

Meat 

Studies show that there is a link between the extent of meat preparation to the risk associated with various types of cancer. Heating meat at high temperatures causes the formation of components that can harm our DNA and increase the risk of cancer.

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The best way to avoid this is to prepare the meat at a lower temperature. Prefer cooking and baking meat over frying and grilling, especially grilling over charcoal.

If you do decide to grill the meat over the charcoal, it is recommended to grill over coals that had been turned gray and not over the flames, and remove burnt parts to reduce the damage. To help prevent the formation of cancer-causing components, it is best to turn the meat often and keep fanning it. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, marinating meat with herbs and spices before grilling it may reduce the formation of carcinogens.

Herbs

As I’ve already written in my e-book The Herbal Remedies Guide, herbs not only add flavor and color to food but they also have powerful medicinal properties. New studies raise the possibility that herbs may also play a role in cancer prevention. For example, experts in the American Institute for Cancer Research say that rosemary contains a substance known as carnosol which may inhibit the growth of cancerous tumors. Rosemary is also one of the herbs in my top 10 culinary herbs for your health.

Fruits and vegetables

Eat fruits and vegetables with their skins. The skin is loaded with anti-cancer phytochemicals. For example, if you eat an apple with its skin, you receive 75 % more quercetin, which is an anti-cancer component, in comparison to a peeled apple. If you cannot buy organic produce, you can reduce the damage by easily removing pesticides from your fruits and vegetables – see more details here.

Cooking vegetables for a long time causes them to lose water-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin C and folic acid and some phytochemicals. To maximize the anti-cancer potential of vegetables, the American Institute for Cancer Research recommends that you steam them, bake them in the oven, stir fry them, or eat them raw. If you still want to cook the vegetables, add enough water just to cover the bottom of the pot and cook just until the vegetables are tender.

It is also recommended to add to vegetables a little bit of healthy fat – like olive oil, avocado, tahini and nuts – because fat helps absorb healthy nutrients like beta-carotene and fat soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, E and K.

You can find here more information about the top 14 foods that protect against cancer development, as well as the top 5 cancer causing foods to avoid:

Top 5 Cancer Causing Foods to Avoid

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25 Responses to The Best Cooking Methods for Cancer Prevention

  1. Nandini Jairath says:

    Thank for your healthy tips, it’s very helpful to learn about our health.

  2. The biggest issue with preparing meat at high temperature is the creation of certain compounds that have devastating effects on our bodies.

    Heterocyclic amines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, advanced gylcation end-products, and TMAO, are all substances that get produced by grilling/charring and are all carcinogens, some are also mutagenic. This is also probably the reason why some studies showed increased mortalities with meat consumption and what not.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Garlic

    If you crush or chop garlic and then wait 10-15 minutes before exposing it to heat?

    Allicin is extremely unstable and sensitive, it has a short shelf life and is easily destroyed by heat.

    • Jenny says:

      This is why you need to leave it for a while before cooking it to allow the active ingredients to develop, so let the enzyme do its job for a while before cooking the garlic.

      • sadappan says:

        miss jenny appan… cooking methods good to hear but what about the products used for cooking.. for eg : non stick please post an article related to this also

      • Anita says:

        I keep fermented and pickled (with raw apple cider vinegar) in the fridge at all times and my husband eats it right out of the jar. Is it ok to do this with garlic this way?

        • Jenny says:

          Hi Anita, I’m not sure exactly how the pickling process affects the formation of allicin. I’ve read that the acid in vinegar neutralizes the enzyme Alliinase which is responsible for the formation of allicin, so I guess pickling reduces the formation of allicin. However some people find that minced raw garlic is difficult to digest in which case pickled garlic might be a good choice as there are other beneficial nutrients in garlic other than the allicin. Also the fermentation process can actually add to the health benefits and improve healthy gut.

  4. Donna says:

    Very interesting…I learn something new everyday!

  5. sonia says:

    Oh dear,
    I always peel my apples especially the ones I give to my kid.
    We have been told the skin is full of pesticides so make sure I peel
    them ….. Organic fruit & veg is not always available so I feel safer peeling
    them ……Am I doing it all wrong??? what do u think? tks

    • Jenny says:

      This is not an easy question. On the one hand, Some produce (including apples) has high levels of pesticides. On the other hand, when the skin is removed, much of the fiber is eliminated, as well as other important nutrients. The best solution would be to buy organic produce. If you cannot get organic produce, the second best option would be to thoroughly clean the produce (in this case apples) by washing them with water and a little bit of mild dish washing liquid. Then you can soak them for few minutes in a mixture of one teaspoon of sea salt per cup of water, or by diluting vinegar with water. Then rinse well.

    • Ramesh says:

      You can easily destroy the pesticides by using ozonated water. Dip the fruits/vegetables in ozonated water for 15 min. Job done

  6. marichu Navarroza says:

    Thank you for the healthy tips.

  7. Don’t just read, please follow.

  8. TJ Phillips says:

    Not cooking AT ALL is the best way to ward of cancer. Raw, whole, local, fresh foods will give your body the tools to stay healthy. Raising food temperatures above 116-degrees is a death kiss for essential enzymes.

  9. Noemi E. Pulvera says:

    im grateful to read more of ur healthy natural world specially me im a breast cancer patient…glad to hear u more…godbless and good luck…

  10. YN says:

    What about juicing these foods does that keep the benefits in tact?

    • Jenny says:

      If you drink a freshly made juice a short time after you’ve made it, you get most of the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients found in the whole fruit, but you lose the fiber content in the juicing process.

  11. Edgar F. Dones says:

    I’m a cancer patient. Is there a recommended diet for cancer patient?

  12. Deepak says:

    I thought that it was better to peel apples as the skin usually has a large amount of pesticides on it that could cause cancer. Now you tell us the opposite of this.

  13. Samir says:

    All these points are well and super. Any thoughts on the key contributors such as preservatives, colors in frozen and canned foods, cooking methods using plastics and Teflon coated utensils for microwave and stove top..?

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