Disease Fighting Powers of Sixty Common Foods

Since foods are exceedingly complex packages of chemicals, they do not deliver a single biological punch, as do specially formulated pharmaceutical drugs designed to accomplish a specific purpose. Instead, food stimulates diverse biological activity. Here are the varied pharmacological powers that have been attributed to common foods, according to the latest evidence.


Apple: Reduces cholesterol, contains anti-cancer agents. Has mild antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, estrogenic activity. High in fiber, helps avoid constipation, suppresses appetite. Juice can cause diarrhea in children.

Asparagus: A super source of glutathione, an antioxidant with strong anticancer activity.

Avocado: Benefits arteries. Lowers cholesterol, dilates blood vessels. Its main fat, monounsaturated oleic acid (also concentrated in olive oil), acts as an antioxidant to block artery destroying toxicity of bad-type LDL cholesterol. One of the richest sources of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant, shown to block thirty different carcinogens and to block proliferation of the AIDS virus in test tube experiments. Also a vasodilator.

Banana and Plantain: Soothes the stomach. Good for dyspepsia (upset stomach). Strengthens the stomach lining against acid and ulcers. Has antibiotic activity.

Barley: Long known as a “heart medicine” in the Middle East. Reduces cholesterol. Has antiviral and anticancer activity. Contains potent antioxidants, including tocotrienols.

Beans (legumes, including navy, black, kidney, pinto beans and lentils): Potent medicine in lowering cholesterol. One half cup of cooked beans daily reduces cholesterol an average 10%. Regulates blood sugar levels. An excellent food for diabetics. Linked to lower rates of certain cancers. Very high in fiber. A leading producer of intestinal gas in most people.

Bell Pepper: Super-rich in antioxidant vitamin C. Therefore, a great food for fighting off colds, asthma, bronchitis, respiratory infections, cataracts, macular degeneration, angina, atherosclerosis and cancer.

Blueberry: Acts as an unusual type antibiotic by blocking attachment of bacteria that cause urinary tract infections. Contains chemicals that curb diarrhea. Also antiviral activity and high in natural aspirin.

Broccoli: A spectacular and unique package of versatile disease fighters. Abundant in numerous strong, well-known antioxidants, including quercetin, glutathione, beta carotene, indoles, vitamin C, lutein, glucarate, sulforaphane. Extremely high anti-cancer activity, particularly against lung, colon and breast cancers. Like other cruciferous vegetables, it speeds up removal of estrogen from the body, helping suppress breast cancer. Rich in cholesterol-reducing fiber. Has antiviral, anti-ulcer activity. A super source of chromium that helps regulate insulin and blood sugar.

Note: Some antioxidant, anticancer and estrogenic activity of compounds (indoles, in particular) are destroyed by cooking and processing. There is also some discussion as to whether or not microwaving is recommended. Most protective vegetables are best eaten raw or lightly cooked as in stir frying. 

Brussels Sprouts: As one of the cruciferous family, possesses some of the same powers as broccoli and cabbage. Definitely anti-cancer, estrogenic and packed with various antioxidants and indoles.

Cabbage and Bok Choy: Revered in ancient Rome as a cancer cure. Contains numerous anti-cancer and antioxidant compounds. Speeds up estrogen metabolism, is thought to help block breast cancer and suppress growth of polyps, a prelude to colon cancer. In studies, eating cabbage more than once a week cut men’s colon cancer odds 66 percent. As little as two daily tablespoons of cooked cabbage protected against stomach cancer. Contains anti-ulcer compounds; cabbage juice helps heal ulcers in humans. Has antibacterial and anti-viral powers. Can cause flatulence in some. Sauerkraut (high in tyramine) can help trigger migraine headaches.

Carrot: A super food source of beta carotene, a powerful anti-cancer, artery-protecting, immune-boosting, infection-fighting antioxidant with wide protective powers. A carrot a day slashed stroke rates in women by 68 percent. One medium carrot’s worth of beta carotene cuts lung cancer risk in half, even among formerly heavy smokers. High doses of beta carotene, as found in carrots, substantially reduces odds of degenerative eye diseases – cataracts and macular degeneration – as well as chest pain (angina). Carrots’ high soluble fiber depresses blood cholesterol, promotes regularity.

Note: Cooking does not destroy beta carotene: in fact, light cooking can make it easier for the body to absorb.

Cauliflower: A member of the famous cruciferous family, it contains many of the same cancer-fighting, hormone-regulating compounds as its cousins, broccoli and cabbage. Specifically thought to help ward off breast and colon cancers.

Celery: A traditional Vietnamese remedy for high blood pressure. Celery compounds reduce blood pressure in animals. Comparable human dose: two to four stalks a day. Also has a mild diuretic effect. Contains eight different families of anti-cancer compounds, such as phthalides and polyacetylenes, that detoxify carcinogens, especially cigarette smoke. Eating celery before or after vigorous exercise can induce mild to serious allergic reactions in some.

Chili Pepper: Revs up the blood-clot-dissolving system, opens up sinuses and air passages, breaks up mucus in the lungs, acts as an expectorant or decongestant, helps prevent bronchitis, emphysema and stomach ulcers. Most of chili pepper’s pharmacological activity is credited to capsaicin, the compound that makes the pepper taste hot. Capsaicin is also a potent painkiller, alleviating headaches when inhaled, and joint pain when injected. Hot paprika made from hot chili peppers is high in natural aspirin. Antibacterial, antioxidant activity. Putting hot chili sauce on food also speeds up metabolism, burning off calories. Contrary to popular belief, chili peppers do not harm the stomach lining or promote ulcers.

Chocolate: Contains chemicals thought to affect neurotransmitters in the brain. Added to milk, chocolate helps counteract lactose intolerance. Chocolate does not seem to raise cholesterol or cause or aggravate acne. Dark chocolate is very high in copper, which may help ward off cardiovascular disease. Triggers headaches in some. Aggravates heartburn. Implicated in cystic breast disease.

Cinnamon: A strong stimulator of insulin activity, thus potentially helpful for those with Type II diabetes. Mild anticoagulant activity.

Clove: Long used to kill the pain of toothache and as an anti-inflammatory against rheumatic diseases. Has anticoagulant effects, (anti-platelet aggregation), and its main ingredient, eugenol, is anti-inflammatory.

Coffee: Most, but not all, of coffee’s pharmacological impact comes from its high concentration of caffeine, a psychoactive drug of great power. Caffeine, depending on an individual’s biological makeup and peculiar sensitivity, can be a mood elevator and mental energizer. Improves mental performance. One cup of morning coffee gives the brain a “jump start.” Caffeine is an emergency remedy for asthma. Also, regular coffee drinkers have less asthma and wheezing. Dilates bronchial passages. Mildly addictive. Triggers headaches, anxiety and panic attacks in some. In excess may cause psychiatric disturbances. Definitely promotes insomnia. Coffee stimulates stomach acid secretion (both caffeinated and decaf). Can aggravate heartburn. Promotes bowel movements in many, causes diarrhea in others.

Collard Greens: Full of diverse anti-cancer, antioxidant compounds, including lutein, vitamin C, beta carotene. In animals blocks the spread of breast cancer. Like other green leafy vegetables, associated with low rates of all cancers. High in oxalates, not recommended for those with kidney stones.

Corn: Anti-cancer and anti-viral activity, possibly induced by corn’s content of protease inhibitors. Has estrogen-boosting capabilities. A very common cause of food intolerance linked in symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, headaches and migraine-related epilepsy in children.

Cranberry: Strong antibiotic properties with unusual abilities to prevent infectious bacteria from sticking to cells lining the bladder and urinary tract. Thus, it helps prevent recurring urinary tract (bladder) infections. Also has antiviral activity.

Date: High in natural aspirin. Has laxative effect. Dried fruits, including dates, are linked to lower rates of certain cancers, especially pancreatic cancer. Contains compounds that may cause headaches in susceptible individuals.

Eggplant: Eggplant substances called glycoalkaloids, made into a topical cream medication, have been used to treat skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma, according to Australian researchers.

Fenugreek Seeds: A spice common in the Middle East and available in many U.S. food markets. Has anti-diabetic powers. Helps control surges of blood sugar and insulin. Also anti-diarrheal, anti-ulcer, anti-diabetic, anticancer, tends to lower blood pressure, helps prevent intestinal gas.

Fig: Long used in folklore to fight cancer. Both extract of figs and the fig compound benzaldehyde have helped shrink tumors in humans, according to Japanese tests. Also laxative, anti-ulcer, antibacterial and anti-parasitic powers. Triggers headaches in some people.

Fish and Fish Oil: An exceedingly remarkable therapeutic and preventive food. Intervenes in heart disease, preventing heart attack deaths (two servings a week); an ounce a day has been shown to cut risk of heart attacks 50 percent. Oil in fish can relieve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, asthma, psoriasis, high blood pressure, Raynaud’s disease, migraine headaches, ulcerative colitis, possibly multiple sclerosis. May help ward off strokes. A known anti-inflammatory agent and anticoagulant. Raises good type HDL cholesterol. Slashes triglycerides dramatically. May help guard against development of glucose intolerance and Type II diabetes. Some fish are high in antioxidants, such as selenium and co-enzyme Q-10. Exhibits anticancer activity especially in blocking development of colon cancer and spread of breast cancer.

Note: Fish highest in omega-3 fatty acids appear most protective: These include sardines, mackerel, herring, salmon, tuna. Sardines are high in oxalates, and may promote kidney stone formation in susceptible individuals.

Garlic: An all-around drug, used to treat an array of ills since the dawn of civilization. A proven broad-spectrum antibiotic that combats bacteria, intestinal parasites and viruses. In high doses it has cured encephalitis. Lowers blood pressure and blood cholesterol, discourages dangerous blood clotting. Two or three cloves a day cut the odds of subsequent heart attacks in half in heart patients. Contains multiple anticancer compounds and antioxidants and tops the National Cancer Institute’s list as a potential cancer-preventive food. Lessens chances of stomach cancer in particular. A good cool medication. Acts as a decongestant, expectorant, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory agent. Boosts immune responses. Helps relieve gas, has anti-diarrheal, estrogenic and diuretic activity. Appears to lift mood and has a mild calming effect. High doses of raw garlic (more than three cloves a day) have caused gas, bloating, diarrhea and fever in some.

Note: To fight bacteria, raw garlic is better. However, cooking does not diminish garlic’s blood-thinning and other cardio-protective capabilities, and, in fact, may enhance them by releasing anti-thrombotic ajoene. As a cancer fighter, raw, pickled or aged garlic may be better than cooked garlic, say some experts. Eat garlic both raw and cooked for all-around insurance.

Ginger: Used for centuries in Asia to treat nausea, vomiting, headache, chest congestion, cholera, colds, diarrhea, stomach ache, rheumatism and nervous diseases. Ginger is a proven anti-nausea, anti-motion sickness remedy that matches or surpasses drugs such as Dramamine. Helps thwart and prevent migraine headaches and osteoarthritis. Relieves symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Acts as an anti thrombotic and anti-inflammatory agent in humans; is an antibiotic in test tubes (kills salmonella and staph bacteria), and an anti-ulcer agent in animals. Also has anti-depressant, anti-diarrheal and strong antioxidant activity. Ranks very high in anti-cancer activity.

Grape: A rich storehouse of antioxidant, anticancer compounds. Red grapes (but not white or green grapes), are high in antioxidant quercetin. Grape skins contain resveratrol, shown to inhibit blood-platelet clumping (and consequently, blood clod formation) and boost good-type HDL cholesterol. Red grapes are antibacterial and antiviral in test tubes. Grapeseed oil also raises good-type HDL Cholesterol.

Grapefruit: The pulp contains a unique pectin (in membranes and juice sacs-not in juice) that lowers blood cholesterol and reverses atherosclerosis (clogged arteries) in animals. Has anti-cancer activity, and appears particularly protective against stomach and pancreatic cancer. The juice is antiviral. High in various antioxidants, especially disease-fighting vitamin C. May aggravate heartburn.

Honey: Strong antibiotic properties. An excellent topical salve for diabetic sores. Has sleep inducing, sedative and tranquilizing properties.

Caution: Do not feed honey to infants under age one, there is a danger of potentially deadly botulism.

Kale: An amazingly rich source of various antioxidant, anticancer chemicals of various types. Has more beta carotene than spinach and twice as much lutein, the most of any vegetable tested. Kale is also a member of the cruciferous family, endowing it with anti-cancer indoles that help regulate estrogen and fight off colon cancer It ranks very high as a potential cancer preventive and all-around disease-fighting vegetable.

Kiwi Fruit: Commonly prescribed in Chinese traditional medicine to treat stomach and breast cancer. High in vitamin C, which has multiple anti-disease activity.

Licorice: A potent, multi-faceted medicine. Strong anticancer powers, possibly because of a high concentration of glycyrrhizin. Mice drinking glycyrrhizin dissolved in water have fewer skin cancers. Also kills bacteria, fights ulcers and diarrhea. May act as a diuretic. Eating too much licorice can be dangerous, as it raises blood pressure. Also it is not advised for pregnant women.

Note: Only real licorice has these powers. Most so-called “licorice” candy sold in the United States is face, made with anise instead of real licorice. Check the label. Real licorice says “licorice mas.” Imitation licorice is labeled “artificial licorice” or “anise.”

Melon (green and yellow, such as cantaloupe and honeydew): Has anticoagulant (blood-thinning) activity. Orange melons contain antioxidant beta carotene.

Milk: Cancer-fighting powers, possibly against colon, lung, stomach and cervical cancers, especially in low-fat milk. One study detected less cancer among low-fat milk drinkers than non-fat drinkers. May help prevent high blood pressure. Skim milk may lower blood cholesterol. Milk is also known to trigger “allergic” reactions that induce joint pain and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome and diarrhea. In children and infants milk is suspected to cause or contribute to colic, respiratory problems, sleeplessness, itchy rashes, migraines, epileptic seizures, ear infections and even diabetes. Contrary to popular belief, milk stimulates production of stomach acid and retards healing of ulcers.

Mushroom (Asian, including shiitake): Long esteemed in Asia as a longevity tonic, heart medicine and cancer remedy. Current tests show Asian mushrooms, such as shiitake, help prevent and/or treat cancer, viral diseases, such as influenza and polio, high blood cholesterol, sticky blood platelets and high blood pressure. Eaten daily, shiitake fresh (three ounces) or dried ( one-third ounce) cut cholesterol by 7 and 12 percent respectively. A shiitake compound, lentinan, is a broad-spectrum antiviral agent that potentiates immune functioning. Used to treat leukemia in China and breast cancer in Japan. Shiitake extract (sulfated B-glucans) has been declared by Japanese scientists more effective as an AIDS drug than the common drub AZT. Eating black mo-er (tree-ear) mushroom thins the blood.

Note: No therapeutic effects are known for the common U.S. button mushroom. Some claim this species has cancer causing potential (hydrazides) unless cooked.

Mustard and Horseradish: Recognized for centuries as a decongestant and expectorant. Helps break up mucus in air passages A good remedy for congestion caused by colds and sinus problems. Also antibacterial. Revs up metabolism, burning off extra calories. In one British test about three-fifths of a teaspoon of ordinary yellow mustard increased metabolic rate about 25 percent, burning 45 more calories in three hours.

Nuts: Anti-cancer and heart-protective properties. A key food among Seventh-Day Adventists, known for their low rates of heart disease. Walnuts and almonds help reduce cholesterol, contain high concentrations of antioxidant, oleic acid and monounsaturated fat, similar to that in olive oil, known to protect arteries from damage. Nuts generally are high in antioxidant vitamin E, shown to protect against chest pain and artery damage. Brazil nuts are extremely rich in selenium, an antioxidant linked to lower rates of heart disease and cancer. Walnuts contain ellagic acid, an antioxidant and cancer-fighter, and are also high in omega-3 type oil. Nuts, including peanuts, are good regulators of insulin and blood sugar, preventing steep rises, making them good foods for those with glucose intolerance and diabetes. Peanuts are estrogenic. Nuts have been found lacking in the diets of those who later develop Parkinson’s disease. Peanuts are a prime cause of acute allergic reactions in susceptible individuals.

Oats: A couple of bowls of oat bran or three bowls of oatmeal a day can depress cholesterol 10 percent or more, depending on individual responses. Oats help stabilize blood sugar, have estrogenic and antioxidant activity. They also contain psychoactive compounds that may combat nicotine cravings and have antidepressant powers. High doses can cause gas, abdominal bloating and pain in some. Oats, like other cereals, can trigger food intolerance in susceptible persons, causing chronic bowl distress.

Olive Oil: An artery protector that lowers bad LDL cholesterol without lowering good HDL cholesterol. Helps keep bad cholesterol from being converted to a toxic or “oxidized” form. Thus, helps protect arteries from plaque. Reduces blood pressure, helps regulate blood sugar. Has potent antioxidant activity. May help ward off cancer.

Onion (including chives, shallots, scallions, leeks): One of civilization’s oldest medicines, reputed in ancient Mesopotamia to cure virtually everything. An exceptionally strong antioxidant. Full of numerous anticancer agents. Blocks cancer dramatically in animals. The onion is the richest dietary source of quercetin, a potent antioxidant (in shallots, yellow and red onions only – not white onions). Specifically linked to inhibiting human stomach cancer. Thins the blood, lowers cholesterol, raises good-type HDL cholesterol (preferred dose: half a raw onion a day), wards off blood clots, fights asthma, chronic bronchitis, hay fever, diabetes, atherosclerosis and infections. Anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, antiviral, thought to have diverse anticancer powers. Quercetin is also a sedative. Onions aggravate heartburn, may promote gas.

Orange: A complete package of every class of natural cancer inhibitor known – carotenoids, terpenes and flavonoids. Also rich in antioxidant vitamin C and beta carotene. Specifically tied to lower rates of pancreatic cancer. Orange juice protected mice sperm from radiation damage. Because of its high vitamin C, oranges may help ward off asthma attacks, bronchitis, breast cancer, stomach cancer, atherosclerosis, gum disease, and boost fertility and healthy sperm in some men. Oranges and orange juice may aggravate heartburn.

Parsley: Anticancer because of its high concentrations of antioxidants, such as monoterpenes, phthalides, polyacetylenes. Can help detoxify carcinogens and neutralize certain carcinogens in tobacco smoke. Also, has diuretic activity.

Parsnip: Excellent anticancer potential. Contains six types of anticancer agents.

Pineapple: Suppresses inflammation. Both the fruit and a main constituent, an antibacterial enzyme called bromelain, are anti-inflammatory. Pineapple aids digestion, helps dissolve blood clots and is good for preventing osteoporosis and bone fractures because of its very high manganese content. It is also antibacterial and antiviral and mildly estrogenic.

Plum: Antibacterial. Antiviral. Works as a laxative.

Potato (white): Contains anticancer protease inhibitors. High in potassium, thus may help prevent high blood pressure and strokes. Some estrogenic activity.

Prune: A well-known laxative. High in fiber, sorbitol and natural aspirin.

Pumpkin: Extremely high in beta carotene, the antioxidant reputed to help ward off numerous health problems, including heart attacks, cancer, and cataracts.

Raspberry: Antiviral, anticancer activity. High in natural aspirin.

Rice: Anti-diarrheal, anticancer activity. Like other seeds, contains anticancer protease inhibitors. Of all grains and cereals, it is the least likely to provoke intestinal gas or adverse reactions (intolerances), causing bowel distress such as spastic colon. Rice bran is excellent against constipation, lowers cholesterol and tends to block development of kidney stones.

Rhubarb: Extremely high in oxalates which help promote formation of kidney stones in susceptible individuals. Little or no laxative effect.

Seaweed and Kelp (brown or Laminaria type seaweed): Antibacterial and antiviral activity in brown Laminaria type seaweed known as kelp. It kills herpes virus, for example. Kelp may also lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Wakame boosts immune functioning. Nori kills bacteria and seems to help heal ulcers. A chemical from wakame seaweed is a clot-buster, in one test twice as powerful as the common drug heparin. Most types of seaweed have anticancer activity. Seaweed is very high in iodine and might aggravate acne flare-ups.

Soybean: Packed with pharmacological activity. Rich in hormones, it boosts estrogen levels in postmenopausal women. Has anticancer activity and is thought to be especially antagonistic to breast cancer, possibly one reason rates of breast and prostate cancers are low among the Japanese. Soybeans are the richest source of potent protease inhibitors which are anticancer, antiviral agents. In many human tests, soybeans lower blood cholesterol substantially. In animals, soybeans seem to deter and help dissolve kidney stones.

Spinach: Tops the list, along with other green leafy vegetables, as a food most eaten by people who don’t get cancer. A super source of antioxidants and cancer antagonists, containing about four times more beta carotene and three times more lutein than broccoli, for example. Rich in fiber that helps lower blood cholesterol. Extremely high in oxalate, thus, not recommended for people with kidney stones.

Note: Some of its antioxidants are destroyed by cooking. Eat raw or lightly steamed.

Strawberry: Antiviral, anticancer activity. Often eaten by people less likely to develop all types of cancer.

Sugar: A sedative, sleep inducer, painkiller, tranquilizer, antidepressant. Very antibacterial. Helps heal wounds when applied externally. Like other carbohydrates, sugar helps induce cavities. Also may be related to Crohn’s disease. Triggers rises in blood sugar and stimulates insulin production. Highly addictive.

Sweet Potato and Yams: A blockbuster source of the antioxidant beta carotene, linked to preventing heart disease, cataracts, strokes and numerous cancers. One half cup of mashed sweet potatoes contains about 14 milligrams of beta carotene, or about 23,000 international units (IU’s), according to Department of Agriculture figures.

Tea (including black, oolong and green tea – not herbal teas): Amazing and diverse pharmacological activity, mainly due to catechins. Tea acts as an anticoagulant, artery protector, antibiotic, anti-ulcer agent, cavity-fighter, anti-diarrheal agent, antiviral agent, diuretic (caffeine), analgesic (caffeine), mild sedative (decaffeinated). In animals tea and tea compounds are potent blockers of various cancers. Tea drinkers appear to have less atherosclerosis (damaged, clogged arteries) and fewer strokes. Excessive tea drinking because of its caffeine could aggravate anxiety, insomnia and symptoms of PMS. Tea may also promote kidney stones because of its high oxalate content.

Tomato: A major source of lycopene, an awesome antioxidant and anticancer agent that intervenes in devastating chain reactions of oxygen free radical molecules. Tomatoes are linked in particular to lower rates of pancreatic cancer and cervical cancer.

Turmeric: Truly one of the marvelous medicinal spices of the world. Its main active ingredient is curcumin which gives turmeric its intense cadmium yellow color. Curcumin, studies show, is an anti-inflammatory agent on a par with cortisone, and has reduced inflammation in animals and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis in humans. In other tests, it lowered cholesterol, hindered platelet aggregation (blood clotting), protected the liver from toxins, boosted stomach defenses against acid, lowered blood sugar in diabetics, and was a powerful antagonist of numerous cancer-causing agents. It is known to have varied anticancer activity.

Watermelon: High amounts of lycopene and glutathione, antioxidant and anticancer compounds. Also mild antibacterial, anticoagulant activity.

Wheat: High-fiber whole wheat, and particularly wheat bran, rank as the world’s greatest preventives of constipation. The bran is potently anticancer. Remarkably, in humans, wheat bran can suppress polyps that can develop into colon cancer. In women wheat bran appears to antagonize breast cancer by diminishing supplies of estrogen. It is also anti-parasitic. On the negative side, wheat ranks exceedingly high as a trigger of food intolerances and allergies, resulting in symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome and neurological illnesses.

Yogurt: Yogurt an ancient wonder food strongly antibacterial and anticancer. A cup or two of yogurt a day boosts immune functioning by stimulating production of gamma interferon. Also spurs activity of natural killer cells that attack viruses and tumors. A daily cup of yogurt reduced colds and other upper respiratory infections in humans. Helps prevent and cure diarrhea. A daily cup of yogurt with acidophilus cultures prevents vaginitis (yeast infections) in women. Helps fight bone problems, such as osteoporosis, because of high available calcium content. Acidophilus yogurt cultures neutralize cancer-causing agents in the intestinal tract. Plain old yogurt with I. bulgaricus and S. thermophilus cultures, both live and dead, blocked lung cancers in animals. Yogurt with live cultures is safe for people with lactose intolerance.

Source: Food – Your Miracle Medicine


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