G-BOMBS: The anti-cancer foods that should be in your diet right now

July 05, 2022 by Joel Fuhrman, MD


Looking for the biggest bang for your caloric buck? Remember the acronym G-BOMBS, which stands for Greens, Beans, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries and Seeds. These foods fuel your body with protective micronutrients and phytochemicals that support your immune defenses and have a wide range of health-promoting effects. And here’s a bonus: They’re delicious!

 


Take action:

TRY: G-BOMBS Nutrition Bars – Six delicious varieties, all with Dr. Fuhrman’s Dr. Fuhrman's G-BOMBS Blend. Perfect taste, perfectly portable, and perfect when paired with a salad, entrée or as a dessert. 

READ: Dr. Fuhrman’s New York Times best-selling book Super Immunity, which highlights the health benefits of G-BOMBS in naturally strengthening the immune system against everything from the common cold to cancer.

EAT: Add beans to your main dish salad, along with some chopped raw onion, chickpeas, lightly-sautéed mushrooms, some shredded cabbage – and top it with a delicious nut/seed-based dressing. Have some berries for dessert – and that’s all six G-BOMBS right there

Recipes to try: 

CRUCIFEROUS: Kale and Cabbage Casserole
MUSHROOMS: Mixed Mushroom Stroganoff
BERRIES AND SEEDS: Chia Seed Breakfast


The good news is that if you follow a Nutritarian eating style, G-BOMBS already make up a significant part of your daily diet. And if you’re just starting out on this healthy lifestyle, you are in for a treat. Think gorgeous greens, brilliant berries, meaty mushrooms – the recipe possibilities are endless. 

So what makes the G-BOMBS so important? First, each one plays an important role in preventing chronic diseases, especially cancer. Second, eating these foods will help you achieve sustainable weight loss. Third, they have immune-boosting properties. To sum it up: they promote superior health and enhanced longevity.

Let’s take a deeper dive into each of the foods and their unique properties. 


Green vegetables are the most nutrient-dense of all foods. They contain phytochemicals that protect blood vessels, protect against inflammation, and reduce oxidative stress, which is a major contributor to cardiovascular disease and cancer. All green vegetables are rich in folate and carotenoids, specifically lutein and zeaxanthin, which are the carotenoids known to promote healthy vision.1 

Chop cruciferous before cooking: Isothiocyanates

All vegetables contain protective micronutrients and phytochemicals, but cruciferous vegetables, such as bok choy, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, are unique. When their cell walls are broken by blending, chopping or chewing, a chemical reaction produces isothiocyanates (ITCs) from precursors called glucosinolates. These ITCs have a variety of potent anti-cancer and other health-promoting effects. 

KEY BENEFIT #1: Intestinal immune function

Research has suggested that ITCs are important for immune function. Cruciferous-derived isothiocyanates, such as sulforaphane, help maintain adequate numbers of immune cells , called intestinal epithelial lymphocytes, in the gut.2 

KEY BENEFIT #2: Cardiovascular health and cancer prevention

Phytochemicals from cruciferous vegetables enhance your health by activating Nrf2, a powerful transcription factor that activates the body’s detoxification system and antioxidant enzymes.3 Thought to reduce vascular inflammation, ITCs work to detoxify carcinogens, reduce inflammation, neutralize oxidative stress, inhibit angiogenesis, and promote cell death in cancer cells.4,5 Greater consumption of cruciferous vegetables is associated with a decreased risk of several cancers, including lung, ovary, stomach, breast, prostate, and colon cancers.6-10

Related: The cancer-fighting power of cruciferous vegetables

KEY BENEFIT #3: Leafy greens and healthy body weight

Greens, especially leafy greens, are bulky and rich in fiber, phytochemicals, and micronutrients, and very low in calories. Studies have shown that eating a leafy green salad at the start of a meal reduces the calories consumed from the rest of the meal. The larger the salad, the greater the calorie-reducing effect.11,12 

Related: Perfect Salads, made perfectly simple

Greens to try

Cruciferous vegetables include arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, mustard greens and watercress. Other green vegetables include asparagus, celery, cucumber, green beans, lettuces, Swiss chard, spinach, and zucchini. 

Sources:

The influence of dietary lutein and zeaxanthin on visual performance
You AhR what you eat: linking diet and immunity
The Epigenetic Impact of Cruciferous Vegetables on Cancer Prevention
Salad and satiety. The effect of timing of salad consumption on meal energy intake
 


Beans and other legumes are the most nutrient-dense starch sources and are nutritionally superior to whole grains. 

KEY BENEFIT #1: Cardiovascular health

In a meta-analysis of 5 studies, every 4 weekly servings of legumes was associated with an additional 15% reduction in the risk of heart disease.77 Beans are rich in soluble fiber, which helps to lower cholesterol, and their overall high fiber content is helpful for keeping blood pressure down.13,14 
A study that compared beans to whole grains in people with type 2 diabetes showed beans were superior for improving cardiovascular and metabolic health indicators, such as HbA1c, fasting blood glucose, body weight, triglycerides, and blood pressure.15

Related: Clinical study confirms that beans are the preferred starch source for diabetes

KEY BENEFIT #2: Weight loss

The high fiber content of beans increases chewing time and slows both stomach emptying and the absorption of carbohydrate from a meal, which decreases the after-meal elevations in glucose and insulin. 

Beans also promote feelings of satiety, which helps to reduce appetite and total calorie intake.16,17 An analysis of 21 randomized controlled trials investigating diets that included beans or lentils, compared to control diets (no beans) with the same number of calories, found significant weight loss in the bean and lentil groups.18 

Related: Eat healthfully, and abundantly, for weight loss

KEY BENEFIT #3: Healthy microbiome and cancer prevention

The fiber and resistant starch in beans, lentils, and split peas cannot be broken down by the human digestive system. However, fiber – and especially resistant starch – are prebiotics. They can be metabolized by the gut microbiome and promote the growth of beneficial intestinal bacteria.19 

Gut bacteria metabolize resistant starch into short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which have a variety of protective health effects. SCFAs promote good intestinal immune function and have anti-inflammatory effects. They act as an energy source for the cells in the colon, help protect against colon cancer, and act as regulators of metabolism, protecting against weight gain and insulin resistance.19-22 Apart from the microbiome, the high fiber content of beans also accelerates intestinal transit time and dilutes potential carcinogens in the colon.23 Eating beans and other legumes regularly is linked to reduced risk of colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, and breast cancer.23-25

Related: Your gut microbiome influences immune function (and beans keep it healthy)

Beans to try 

Adzuki, black, cannellini, chickpea, edamame, green peas, lentils, kidney, navy, pinto, snow peas, white beans.

Sources:

Non-soy legume consumption lowers cholesterol levels: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials
Effect of legumes as part of a low glycemic index diet on glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes mellitus: a randomized controlled trial
Dietary pulses, satiety and food intake: a systematic review and meta-analysis of acute feeding trials
Effects of dietary pulse consumption on body weight: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials
Human nutrition, the gut microbiome and the immune system
Starving our microbial self: the deleterious consequences of a diet deficient in microbiota-accessible carbohydrates
Dietary legume consumption reduces risk of colorectal cancer: evidence from a meta-analysis of cohort studies
 


Onions, garlic and leeks are some of the members of the Allium family of vegetables. These vegetables are known for their characteristic organosulfur compounds that are responsible for their anti-cancer properties. Like the isothiocyanates (ITCs) in cruciferous vegetables, these organosulfur compounds are released when these vegetables are chopped, crushed or chewed.

KEY BENEFIT #1: Cancer prevention: chop before cooking

Once onions or garlic are chopped or crushed, the enzyme alliinase goes to work, producing organosulfur compounds with beneficial antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer effects.26 The other members of the Allium family also contain beneficial organosulfur compounds. These phytochemicals help detoxify carcinogens, inhibit cancer cell growth, and block angiogenesis.27  Many epidemiological studies have found that higher intake of garlic, onions, and other Alliums is associated with lower risk of gastric and esophageal cancers.28 To get the full effect of the alliinase enzyme, thoroughly chew garlic or other Alliums raw or wait about 10 minutes to cook after chopping or mincing.29

Onions also contain high concentrations of flavonoid phytochemicals, predominantly quercetin; red onions contain a variety of anthocyanins, flavonoids commonly found in berries.30,31 Quercetin promotes DNA repair, suppresses growth and proliferation, and induces cell death in tumor cells.32 Flavonoids also have anti-inflammatory effects that contribute to cancer prevention.33 

KEY BENEFIT #2: Cardiovascular health

Onions and garlic are linked to a healthy cardiovascular system – there is a lower risk of stroke and of death from cardiovascular disease associated with higher Allium intake.34 Studies suggest that phytochemicals from Allium vegetables promote healthy blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol levels, and have antiplatelet actions, all of which contribute to reduced cardiovascular risk.28 

Related: How garlic and onions promote cardiovascular health 

KEY BENEFIT #3: Immune defenses

In laboratory studies, garlic and onion phytochemicals enhance the activity of several types of immune cells.35,36 There is also evidence quercetin promotes antiviral and anti-tumor immune function, and facilitates the immune-supporting actions of zinc.37,38

Allium vegetables to try
Onions, garlic, scallions, chives, leeks, shallots

Sources:

Garlic and onions: their cancer prevention properties
Allium vegetable consumption and health: An umbrella review of meta-analyses of multiple health outcomes
Onions: a source of unique dietary flavonoids
Relation of Different Fruit and Vegetable Sources With Incident Cardiovascular Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Prospective Cohort Studies
Immunomodulatory affect of R10 fraction of garlic extract on natural killer activity
Quercetin, Inflammation and Immunity
 


Mushrooms contain unique, beneficial phytochemicals, such as the potent antioxidant ergothioneine, immunomodulating beta glucans, substances with anti-estrogen activity that help prevent breast cancer, and prebiotic polysaccharides that promote a healthy gut microbiome.39 A study of over 15,000 American adults reported a dose-response relationship between higher mushroom consumption and a lower risk of death from all causes over the average 19.5-year follow-up period.40 

KEY BENEFIT #1: Cancer prevention

Mushrooms (particularly the species Agaricus bisporus which includes white button, cremini, and Portobello mushrooms), have anti-aromatase (aromatase is an estrogen-producing enzyme) activity in laboratory studies, and this is thought to underlie the association between higher mushroom intake and lower breast cancer risk.41,42 

A 2021 analysis of 17 observational studies on mushroom intake and cancer risk found that high mushroom intake was associated with a 34% lower risk of any cancer, and a 35% lower risk of breast cancer compared to low mushroom intake.43

Mushrooms have additional anti-cancer effects beyond their anti-estrogen activity. Mushroom extracts have anti-angiogenic and anti-proliferative effects and promote anti-tumor immune cell function, prevent DNA damage, promote programmed cancer cell death, and inhibit angiogenesis.44-47 

KEY BENEFIT #2: Ergothioneine

Oyster mushrooms (followed by white button mushrooms) are the richest sources of ergothioneine, a specialized antioxidant that is considered a “longevity vitamin” by some scientists.39,48-50  Ergothioneine is thought to be important for human health, since ergothioneine is found in most cells and tissues, and many human cells have a transporter protein whose main known function is to bring ergothioneine into the cell.51,52 There is evidence ergothioneine helps preserve cognitive function in older adults by protecting the brain against oxidative stress.53 

Related: Mighty Mushrooms Boost Immune Function and Brain Health and Guard Against Cancer

KEY BENEFIT #3: Immune function

Mushroom chemicals called beta-glucans have a unique ability to interact with the cells of the immune system.46,54-56 Immune cell growth and maturation, production of immune-modulating molecules, and the ability of immune cells to destroy invading cells have all been enhanced by mushroom extracts in laboratory studies.57-73

KEY BENEFIT #4: Weight maintenance

Mushrooms also promote a healthy body weight. A clinical trial in which half of the participants replaced all red meat with mushrooms for one year reported that the mushroom group had lower calorie intake, lost more weight, and had lower BMI, waist circumference, percent, body fat, and blood pressure compared to the standard diet group.74 The research suggests that when meat is replaced with mushrooms, people do not compensate for the lower calorie content by eating more calories from other foods.75

I recommend only eating mushrooms cooked, because several raw culinary mushrooms contain small amounts of a potentially carcinogenic substance called agaritine, and cooking reduces the agaritine content.76-78

Mushrooms to try

Chanterelle, cremini, maitake, oyster, porcini, portobello, enoki, Lion’s mane, shiitake, white button

Sources:

A Critical Review on Health Promoting Benefits of Edible Mushrooms through Gut Microbiota
Prospective study of dietary mushroom intake and risk of mortality: results from continuous National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2003-2014 and a meta-analysis
Antitumor activity of mushroom polysaccharides: a review
The immunobiology of mushrooms
Is ergothioneine a 'longevity vitamin' limited in the American diet?
Positive effect of mushrooms substituted for meat on body weight, body composition, and health parameters. A 1-year randomized clinical trial
 


Berries and pomegranate arils are some of the lowest sugar fruits, rich in nutrients and phytochemicals. Greater berry consumption has been linked to reduced risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancers.79-83

KEY BENEFIT #1: Anti-inflammatory effects and cancer prevention

Berries’ vibrant colors are a result of their rich flavonoid content – specifically a subcategory of flavonoids called anthocyanins. Flavonoids and their metabolites work by boosting cells’ natural antioxidant and detoxification enzymes and altering cell signaling pathways, particularly those associated with inflammation.84-89 Intervention studies adding berries to the diet have found decreases in inflammatory markers, such as C-reactive protein.79,90

In addition to anthocyanins, ellagic acid, resveratrol, and other polyphenols also contribute to the cancer preventive effects of berries. These preventive effects include inhibiting growth of cancerous cells and inhibiting angiogenesis.80 Pomegranate contains its own distinctive antioxidants called punicalagins, plus ellagic acid and flavonoids, and pomegranate phytochemicals have anti-estrogen and anti-angiogenic activity.91-94 Berry powders and gels have shown promising results in human studies on pre-cancerous lesions in the digestive tract.95-97  In clinical trials on men with prostate cancer, supplementation with pomegranate juice or extract was found to slow the rise in their PSA levels.98,99

KEY BENEFIT #2: Cardiovascular health and favorable blood glucose

Antioxidant-rich berries increase blood antioxidant capacity, decrease adhesion of inflammatory cells to blood vessel walls, and improve blood pressure regulation. Higher berry intake is associated with a lower likelihood of hypertension, and randomized controlled trials on pomegranate juice found decreases in systolic and diastolic blood pressure.100 Patients with heart disease who consumed pomegranate juice daily for 3 years experienced a decrease in carotid IMT (intima-media thickness; indicator of atherosclerotic plaque).101  Randomized controlled trials also showed consumption of berries reduced blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, fasting blood glucose, and HbA1c (an indicatory of long-term blood glucose levels).79 There is also evidence that berry phytochemicals inhibit enzymes that break down carbohydrate and inhibit glucose uptake in the digestive tract, helping to limit the rise in blood glucose after a meal.102-104 

Related: Eating Berries Reduces Your Risk of Heart Attack

KEY BENEFIT #3: Brain health

Berries are an excellent food for the brain. Observational studies, such as the Nurses’ Health Study, have reported a lower risk of cognitive decline or dementia associated with greater intake of berries.105-107 Intervention studies have documented improved cognitive functions including memory when participants supplemented their diets with berries.108,109 Berry flavonoids may enhance brain health by promoting the body’s natural antioxidant and detoxification system, enhancing communication between cells in the brain, counteracting inflammation, and enhancing blood flow in the brain.110-112

Berries to try
Blackberries, blueberries, cranberries, mulberries, raspberries, strawberries

Sources:

Effects of Berries Consumption on Cardiovascular Risk Factors: A Meta-analysis with Trial Sequential Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials
Protective Role of Dietary Berries in Cancer
Associations of dietary intakes of anthocyanins and berry fruits with risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies
Flavonoids as Natural Anti-Inflammatory Agents Targeting Nuclear Factor-Kappa B (NFkappaB) Signaling in Cardiovascular Diseases: A Mini Review
Randomized phase II trial of lyophilized strawberries in patients with dysplastic precancerous lesions of the esophagus
A randomized phase II study of pomegranate extract for men with rising PSA following initial therapy for localized prostate cancer
Effects of pomegranate juice on blood pressure: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials
Berries and anthocyanins: promising functional food ingredients with postprandial glycaemia-lowering effects
Dietary intakes of berries and flavonoids in relation to cognitive decline
The effect of blueberry interventions on cognitive performance and mood: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials
 


Raw seeds and nuts are healthful, whole-food fat sources and are rich in a spectrum of micronutrients, including phytosterols, minerals, and antioxidants. Nuts reduce oxidative stress, lower cholesterol, improve blood vessel function, help with weight maintenance, and lower the glycemic load of meals.113-115  Walnuts and flax, chia, and hemp seeds are rich sources of omega-3 fats.

Related: Nuts and Seeds Help Keep Disease Away

KEY BENEFIT #1: Cardiovascular health

Eating nuts and seeds regularly is consistently linked to longer life,114,116-120 and this is likely due to promoting insulin sensitivity and cardiovascular health.118-121 The cardiovascular benefits of nuts include cholesterol-lowering, enhanced endothelial function, and reduced oxidative stress.113, 115, 122-124 Adding flaxseed to the diet has been found in many clinical trials to reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure and inflammatory markers, and nut consumption is also linked to a lower risk of stroke.125-127

KEY BENEFIT #2: Weight maintenance

Despite their caloric density, nuts and seeds do not promote weight gain. In fact, the research suggests nuts help with maintaining a healthy weight because of incomplete absorption of their calories and their high satiety value, which suppresses appetite.117,128 A large study of U.S. adults found that those who ate nuts daily had lower BMI and waist circumference than those who ate nuts less frequently or not at all.129

Related: Nuts: An Important Component of an Anti-Diabetes Diet

The healthy fats in seeds and nuts also aid in the absorption of carotenoids when eaten with vegetables.130

KEY BENEFIT #3: Cancer prevention 

Meta-analyses on nut consumption and cancer risk found that as nut intake increased, cancer risk decreased.131-133 Lignans from flax, chia, and sesame seeds have anti-estrogen effects that are protective against breast cancer.134,135 Nut and seed phytochemicals have antiproliferative effects in cancer cells, in addition to antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, and benefits on the gut microbiome.132,136,137

Related: Nuts and seeds reduce cancer risk

Good choices include chia, flax, hemp, pumpkin and sesame seeds, and almonds, Mediterranean pine nuts, and pistachios and walnuts. I recommend making half of your nut and seed intake from the high-omega-3 nuts and seeds (walnuts, flax, chia, hemp).

Seeds and nuts to try

Almonds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, hemp seeds, Mediterranean pine nuts, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, walnuts

Sources:

Effects of tree nuts on blood lipids, apolipoproteins, and blood pressure: systematic review, meta-analysis, and dose-response of 61 controlled intervention trials
A review of the effects of nuts on appetite, food intake, metabolism, and body weight
Nut consumption on all-cause, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis of epidemiologic studies
Flaxseed consumption may reduce blood pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled trials
Carotenoid bioavailability is higher from salads ingested with full-fat than with fat-reduced salad dressings as measured with electrochemical detection
Association of Total Nut, Tree Nut, Peanut, and Peanut Butter Consumption with Cancer Incidence and Mortality: A Comprehensive Systematic Review and Dose-Response Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies
The Effect of Flaxseed in Breast Cancer: A Literature Review
The effect of nuts on markers of glycemic control: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials
 

 
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Joel Fuhrman, M.D. is a board-certified family physician, seven-time New York Times bestselling author and internationally recognized expert on nutrition and natural healing, who specializes in preventing and reversing disease through nutritional methods. Dr. Fuhrman coined the term “Nutritarian” to describe his longevity-promoting, nutrient dense, plant-rich eating style.
 
For over 30 years, Dr. Fuhrman has shown that it is possible to achieve sustainable weight loss and reverse heart disease, diabetes and many other illnesses using smart nutrition. In his medical practice, and through his books and PBS television specials, he continues to bring this life-saving message to hundreds of thousands of people around the world.

 

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07/08/2022 02:25 PM

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