Weird Cancer-Fighting Foods to Try This Summer
fruit stall

Try Something New

Research shows that eating a variety of plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans helps lower risk for cancer and other chronic diseases. If you’re looking to mix up your healthy repertoire, try out some of these exotic foods, each with their own unique health properties. Look for them in your local specialty market or international grocery.



Jackfruit is the largest fruit in the world, but surprisingly, grows on trees. The ripe orange fruit is naturally sweet, but when unripe it can be cooked and its flavor has been compared to pulled pork. It’s a good source of potassium and vitamins C and B6.



Daikon is an Asian variety of radish that has a mild flavor with a light spicy kick. Thinly sliced, you can add them to salads, soups or stir-fries. Just like more typical red radishes, they are a cruciferous vegetable and they contain vitamin C, 1 gram of fiber, and only 10 calories in 1/2 cup.



This tropical fruit, also called graviola or soursop, has a pineapple-strawberry flavor and can be mixed into smoothies or yogurt. It's rich in vitamin C and a good source of fiber. It's also been the subject of many internet hoaxes for cancer cures. While some test-tube studies show that guanabana extract may inhibit cancer cells, no human studies have been conducted and too much of it (for example, supplements) may even be harmful.



Amaranth is a seed-like whole grain that has a slight nutty flavor and was a staple food of the Aztecs. Rich in magnesium, it’s also a good source of iron, fiber and selenium. Amaranth is higher in protein than most other grains and it’s a “complete” protein because it contains lysine, an amino acid that not many other grains contain. 


Sweet Tamarind

Popular in Southeast Asia, this fruit comes in its own pod. Rich in fiber, potassium and magnesium, tamarind pulp is sweet like dates and is often served as sweet spreads or candies. If you enjoy them right out of the pod, each one only weighs in at 5 calories and 1 gram of sugar.



This Italian vegetable has a strikingly pointed appearance, but it’s related to broccoli and cauliflower. It's packed with vitamin C, fiber and the B vitamin folate. Use it just as you would other cruciferous vegetables – steam for a side, stir-fry as a main or blanch to serve with a dip.



These coastal greens are a cross between asparagus and cactus. Also known as salicornia, sea asparagus or sea beans, samphire is available in two varieties: rock and marsh. A dazzling shade of green with a salty flavor, marsh samphire is a crunchy vegetable that can be eaten raw or steamed and paired with fish.

tiger nuts

Tiger nut

Despite its name, tiger nut is actually a tuber. Often soaked in warm water before eating, tiger nut has a sweet, nutty flavor. In Spain they are used to make horchata, a milky drink. This can make a good milk alternative for those who are lactose intolerant or vegan, although it's not a source of protein or calcium. Tiger nuts are high in fiber, particularly resistant starch, which may aid in your digestive health.



This vegetable, harvested in Mexico, comes from the cactus plant. They’re rich in calcium and provide magnesium, vitamin C and fiber. Try them grilled or roasted or pair with beans as a vegetarian alternative in tacos.



Teff is a tiny, gluten-free grain from North Africa with a mild, nutty flavor. Typically used in stews, soup and breads, Ethiopians use it as flour to make their signature Injera flatbread. Teff contains some calcium and is also rich in resistant starch, which is being studied for its effects on insulin levels.

nap plate

More Healthy Foods to Try

For more information on a variety of plant foods:








Signup for eNews
       Please leave this field empty

More From This Issue

    Make an Impact

    Your gift provides resources for cancer patients and survivors and helps fund cancer research.

    Give Now »

    Published on July 19, 2016

    facebook twitter pinterest aicr blog