A 2015 report by the International Journal of Molecular Sciences outlines why it’s so important to eat your fruits and vegetables. The result of 30 intensive years of research, doctor’s have concluded that certain phytonutrients can help fight cancer.

Phytonutrients are naturally-occurring chemicals found in plant-based foods which help protect plants from disease and insects. But it has been discovered that many of these chemicals, as well as herbal extracts, can actually kill cancer stem cells in humans. This is a revelation because so many synthetic cancer-fighting drugs have harsh side-effects (plus, cancer stem cells can also become drug-resistant). The International Journal of Molecular Sciences list of the most potent phytochemicals includes:

- Luteolin, found in leafy greens like spinach and kale

- Lycopene, found in watermelon, tomatoes, pink grapefruit

- Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) which is abundant in green tea

- Sulforaphane found in varies vegetables of the cabbage family, including broccoli and cauliflower

- Beta-carotene, which gives carrots, sweet potatoes, squash their orange color

- Resveratrol is found in the skin of red grapes

So what are the most effective ways to take advantage of these powerful little phytonutrients? By loading up on fruits and vegetables. Eating raw can help since cooking can often strip plant foods of their enzymes and vitamins. But don’t go completely raw! In some cases, heat actually increases nutrients – for instance, beta-carotene and lycophene get a dietary boost in the oven. Additionally, you can try adding supplements to your regimen. Most of the top cancer-fighting phytonutrients are available in capsule form at your local health food store.

For the complete list of cancer-killing, the Food Revolution Network breaks it down nicely.

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