What other than yellow and green vegetables contain anti-cancer compounds?


It is becoming widely known that yellow and green vegetables and cruciferous veggies contain a number of compounds (such as beta-carotene which helps protect from cancers of the aerodigestive tract or chlorophyll which helps protect from cancers that can develop from eating red meats on a frequent basis) that help protect against cancer. Carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts are a few that belong to these families. I would like to know if other vegetables that haven’t gotten as much publicity also contain anti-cancer compounds?

A few such veggies that I’d like to know more about in this regard include turnips, radishes, corn, and potatoes. Thanks for any advice you may have on this matter.

Here is information about the beta-carotene and vitamin A content of the vegetables you wanted to know more about:

Food Beta Carotene mcg Vitamin A IU
Raw or cooked turnips (1 cup) 0 0
Raw radishes (1 large radish) 0 1
Cooked corn (1/2 cup) 41 163
Baked potatoes (1/2 cup) 0 0


(A side note, Irish people cook potatoes with cabbage which contains beta-carotene (36 mcg) and Vitamin A (60 IU) in a recipe called Colcannon.)

Recent research on anti-oxidant vitamins and minerals (beta-carotene, vitamin E and C and selenium) supports their cancer preventative properties of scavenging free radicals in the body. Free radicals are highly associated with tumor formation. Non-smokers especially benefit from including foods with these nutrients (especially vitamin C) in their eating plan. One exception is a study in Finland that showed smokers who took beta-carotene supplements actually increased their risk of lung cancer. We don’t recommend beta-carotene supplements above the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowances) for people who smoke.

By aerodigestive tract do you mean your mouth, tonsils, nose, and larynx or are you also including your esophagus? It is true that the cells that line your mouth, nose, and throat are protected by anti-oxidants. The cells that line your gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract and skin cells are epithelial cells and benefit from anti-oxidant vitamins and minerals.

At the present, there is no research evidence showing chlorophyll as having anti-cancer properties. To my knowledge, there are no nutrient databases that contain chlorophyll nutrient data so how would you identify and quantify foods with chlorophyll other than assuming green foods have chlorophyll which could be an erroneous assumption? In addition, there is no RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowances) for chlorophyll.

Most of the evidence against red meats has been to the fat content. High-fat foods are a risk factor for developing cancer. Lean red meat is the best source of iron and Vitamin B12.

There are lots of other foods high in beta-carotene like pumpkin, sweet potatoes (but not yams), greens (dandelion, spinach, etc.) and cantaloupe.