Fruits (Salem Health: Cancer)
How phytochemicals work: Fruits contain many phytochemicals that are believed to have an inverse relationship to cancer incidence or at least act as a protective agent against cancer-causing substances in the human body. Some of these chemicals believed to be active include allium compounds, carotenoids, coumarins, dietary fiber, dithiolthiones, flavonoids, folic acid, endole-3-carbinol, inositol hexaphosphate, isoflavones, isothiocyanates, D-limonene, phytosterols, protease inhibitors, saponins, selenium, and vitamins, especially vitamins C and E.
Carotenoids, including alpha- and beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene, are found in yellow and orange vegetables and fruits and act as antioxidants to maintain the functioning of the immune system. Antioxidants bind to free radicals in the human body. Free radicals are unstable molecules that lack a sufficient number of electrons and can damage genetic material and proteins. This disrupts cell molecules and chemical processes, making cells more susceptible to cancer. When the amount and availability of free radicals in cells and tissues is decreased, the likelihood of cells becoming cancerous is similarly decreased. Studies have also suggested that carotenoids stimulate the manufacture of detoxifying enzymes and inhibit the formation of cancer cells by regulation of communication between cancer cells. Ascorbic acid, or vitamin C, functions in a similar manner and can be found in...
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