When you plan your next meal, don’t forget to include some raw broccoli and a few strawberries…they may just save your life.

Heart attack, cancer, stroke and respiratory disease are the leading causes of death in the U.S., and for the most part these conditions are easily preventable. Sulforaphane, diindolylmethane and ellagic acid are three food medicines that can help. They are found in cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy, broccoli and similar green leafy vegetables and berries.

Li Tang and colleagues at the Roswell Cancer Research Center in New York have been studying the effects of cruciferous vegetables on bladder cancer. Their findings indicate that raw cruciferous vegetables both lowered the risk and helped halt the growth of bladder cancer. Specifically, intake of just one serving a month of raw broccoli reduced the risk of dying from bladder cancer in those that had it by 57%. These results did not hold up as well for cooked broccoli, perhaps because cooking destroys sulforaphane, one of many cancer preventive compounds found in broccoli.[sup]1[/sup]

Diindolylmethane (DIM) is another compound found in cruciferous vegetables, especially broccoli. It has multiple beneficial properties including antiviral, antibacterial and anti-cancer activity. The National Cancer Institute is conducting clinical trials using DIM as an anticancer agent for numerous forms of cancer. For both prevention and treatment DIM has shown promise with breast, prostate, colon and pancreatic cancers. [sup]3,4[/sup]

Ellagic acid is found in berries and some nuts, particularly strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries and pomegranate. While not as well researched in human studies as cruciferous vegetables, lab studies done over the last 15 years are very promising.[sup]5,6[/sup] Ellagic acid has been found to prevent many types of cancer. It is an antioxidant that helps our bodies deactivate carcinogenic compounds and slow the reproduction of cancer cells. Plants have created this compound to protect themselves, and when we eat the plant/berry, we receive the same benefits.

When we eat a whole food, we derive the benefits that scientific research has identified, plus we receive the unknown but synergistic benefits that come with the whole plant. The common thread among the top four causes of death (the fifth being accidents) is inflammation. Eating cruciferous vegetables, raw and cooked along with berries and an all round rainbow colored organic diet provides potent anti-inflammatory activity throughout the body.

Dr. Jon Dunn is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor with over 20 years of experience. He is the author of the book The Family Guide to Naturopathic Medicine and has a private practice in Palm Desert. He is a member of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians and the California Naturopathic Doctors Association. [email protected] www.DrJonDunn.com 760-341-6502 www.facebook.com/DrJonDunn 

References: 1) Tang L, Zirpoli GR, Guru K, Moysich KB, Zhang Y, Ambrosone CB, et al. Intake of Cruciferous Vegetables Modifies Bladder Cancer Survival. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2010 Jun 15; 3) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3,3’-Diindolylmethane; 4) http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct/search?term=diindolylmethane; 5) Cancer Lett 1999 Mar 1 1;136(2):215-21 Expression and its possible role in G1 arrest and apoptosis in ellagic acid treated cancer cells. Narayanan BA, Geoffroy O, Wilmington MC, Re GG, Nixon DW CANCER Prevention program, Hollings Cancer Center, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston 29425, USA.; 6) http://www.brunnerbiz.com/products/ellagicacid.html

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