Let's add spice to our lives. Spices have amazing anti-cancer properties. The latest research has found that they can prevent breast cancer in many ways. The British diet has become spicier in the last few years and that's good news. Who would have thought these tasty aromatic foods could be such powerful friends in cancer prevention? But they certainly are. Recent research has shown that many spices contain more anti-cancer properties than any other food. The ancients certainly knew their spices. In fact, at one time cinnamon was considered to be more precious than gold.
This tangy yellow spice contains at least fourteen chemicals, which are stronger antioxidants than vitamin E, including a very potent one called 'gingerol'. Cloves too are fascinating. A study in the journal BMC Cancer found this to be toxic to breast cancer cells. In test tubes, it caused them cells to self-destruct. This is called 'apoptosis' and damaged cells should do this anyway, but cancer cells just keep on growing. Other studies in mice came up with similar results.
The lovely aromatic spice cinnamon is also a very powerful friend. Laboratory studies have shown that it can stop breast cancer cells getting the blood supply they need to survive and grow. This is certainly an amazing feat but spices can do even more. We make damaged cells every day but the body usually deals with them. Cinnamon can help in this process according to another study in BMC Cancer.
One of the most impressive spices of all is turmeric. It has so many anti-cancer properties that it is staggering. It is a very powerful anti-inflammatory as it contains at least six different chemicals that reduce inflammation. This is wonderful because inflammation both causes and drives cancer as well as many other conditions. Turmeric also helps the liver detoxify dangerous chemicals like DDT and chlordane as these are particularly dangerous and can act like oestrogen in the body. It also makes receptors on the breast less sensitive to the hormone oestrogen, which drives most breast cancers. The main ingredient in turmeric is curcumin but don't confuse this with cumin which is a different plant. Turmeric is not easy to absorb but adding pepper and some fat helps with this.
The Power of Synergy
Eating foods together increases their protective powers dramatically. So turmeric has important anti-cancer properties and does green tea. But if you ingest them together their effect adds up to more than the sum of the two. The7y oth enhance each other. Why not, therefore, have some green tea with your meal containing turmeric?
Delicious ways to use spices
• Add lots of cinnamon and cloves to anything containing apples such as baked apples, apple crumbles and apple pies.
• Add spices to savoury and meaty dishes. These can be enhanced by adding cinnamon, ginger and turmeric. The Middle Eastern dish hariri is a good example.
• Cinnamon can be added to mince dishes such bolognaise sauce or meatloaf.
• Beef or lamb tagine includes lots of spices.
• Turmeric can be added to soups, stews, rice dishes, scrambled eggs, root vegetables.
• Cinnamon can be sprinkled directly on to toast or rice cakes.
• Ginger can be made into a tea by boiling it fresh
• There is also chocolate -coated ginger for an occasional treat!
Hilda Glickman is a lecturer at the Open University and author of the new bestselling book, Take Breast Cancer off Your Menu, How to Prevent Breast Cancer or Stop it Returning, New Evidence Reveals Amazing Protector Foods