Glenn Sabin’s Anticancer Foods List

This is not meant to be the ‘end-all’ list of anticancer foods. It merely represents, albeit in a comprehensive form, a broad selection of what I currently eat, and an expounded list of additional healthy food choices.

Diet is arguably the predominant determinant of health. It plays an outsized role in disease prevention, including many cancer types.

I have followed a pescatarian diet for three decades, with little to no processed foods, no dairy, or added sugars. It is closest to, but not completely, a Mediterranean diet—the most studied diet that is widely considered to be the healthiest approach to nutrition.

Nutrition science is moving quickly. Companies are studying personalized diets tailored to tumor type, genomics, metabolism, and specific anticancer drugs, with the hope to ‘potentiate’ or make the diet/drug combination more effective.

The future absolutely portends ‘precision nutrition’ as an important component to the promise of precision medicine for oncology.

Meanwhile—in the here and now—when it comes to cancer and nutrition science, there are many points of view and ideologies.

Therefore, it wasn’t all that surprising when researching this list, that even the classification of plant ‘families’ for several vegetables and fruits differ … depending on the source you trust.

Which brings us to this:

Disclaimer: There is no perfect one-size-fits-all diet against cancer. Diets are best personalized to the person and their overall health.

This list is for educational purposes only. Seek dietary advice from a licensed professional such as a medical doctor, clinical nutritionist, or registered dietician, who has significant expertise and experience with those hosting cancer.

More about this list:

Organic V. Conventionally Grown Produce

Organic and conventionally grown produce recommendations are informed by the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists. EWG’s Dirty Dozen Cancer Prevention Edition highlighting 12 chemicals to avoid in produce—can be accessed here. More at EWG.org.

Per EWG: “If a produce item you are looking for doesn’t appear on the full list, then unfortunately the USDA does not test that fruit/vegetable, and EWG does not have enough information to make a recommendation, aside from buying organic.”

Citrus: For years I purchased and consumed conventionally-grown citrus because of its thick skin. However, I’ve switched to organic due to EWG’s 2021 report involving lab testing of citrus, which revealed carcinogenic, hormone-disrupting fungicides,

Consumer Reports does its own produce-testing for pesticides. This list has also been informed by their important work, which can be found here.

Why Plant-Based or Plant-Strong?

The foundation of my diet is comprised of a rainbow of plants, encompassing a multitude of phytochemicals that offer protection as mother nature’s original medicine cabinet.

The Critical Rainbow

Fruits and veggies are different colors because they contain different phytonutrients or phytochemicals. This is what helps protect plants in their native environment from mother nature, insects, bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

When we consume copious amounts of different-hued plants, these protective compounds help create an anticancer terrain that supports a strong immune function.


Colors Foods   Protective Substances & Actions
Red Tomato and tomato products, watermelon, guava Lycopene: antioxidant; cuts prostate cancer risk
Orange Carrot, yam, sweet potato, mango, pumpkin   Beta-carotene: supports immune system; powerful antioxidant
Yellow-
Orange
Orange, lemon, grapefruit, papaya, peach   Vitamin C, flavonoids: inhibit tumor cell, growth, detoxify harmful substances
Green Spinach, kale, collard, and other greens   Folate: builds healthy cells and genetic material
Green-
White
Broccoli, brussels sprout, cabbage, cauliflower   Indoles, lutein: eliminate excess estrogen and carcinogens
White-
Green
Garlic, onion, chive, asparagus   Allyl sulfides: destroy cancer cells, reduce cell division, support immune system
Blue Blueberry, purple grape, plum   Anthocyanins: destroy free radicals
Red-
Purple
Grape, berry, plum   Resveratrol: may decrease estrogen production
Brown While grains, legumes   Fiber: carcinogen removal

The Nutrition Rainbow Chart content is excerpted from PCRM—Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

Animal Protein

I do not eat meat, so my Anticancer Foods List reflects my personal preference for combining a plant-based diet with omega 3-rich, well-sourced, wild cold-water fish.

A vegan diet with little to no processed foods, and a full array of plants and plant-based protein — ex., beans, nuts, seeds, legumes—and supplemented as necessary with calcium, vitamin D, B12, and zinc, can also be a highly nutritious anticancer diet. (Get your vitamin levels tested regularly.)

If you decide to include other types of animal protein in your diet, consider the following:

Better…
…if you are not fully satiated with omega 3-rich, well-sourced, cold-water fish, or a plant-strong vegan diet, consider organic meat:

  • Grass-fed and finished beef containing no hormones or antibiotics
  • Free-range chicken, no hormones or antibiotics

Best…
…if you are not fully satiated with omega 3-rich, well-sourced, cold-water fish, or a plant-strong vegan diet, consider wild meat (organic by definition, if not grazing contaminated terrain).

  • Bison
  • Ostrich
  • Venison

Glenn Sabin’s Anticancer Foods List

Key

Organic = OG
Conventional is fine = CONV
Glenn’s go-to regulars = GS

Though I do eat various fruits and vegetables not marked as such (key = GS), and I am trying to eat more of some options, I’ve only notated my current go-to weekly choices.

Protein (plant-based) Beans & Legumes

  • Black OG, GS
  • Cannellini OG, GS (white kidney)
  • Chickpea OG, GS
  • Green Bean OG, GS
  • Kidney OG, GS
  • Lentil OG, GS
  • Navy OG
  • Peas OG
  • Pinto OG, GS
  • Soybean OG, GS (edamame, tofu)

Nuts

  • Raw Almonds OG, GS
  • Raw Brazil Nuts OG, GS (3 per day, max, for selenium)
  • Raw Cashews OG
  • Raw Hazelnuts OG
  • Raw Pistachio OG
  • Raw Walnuts OG, GS

Seeds

  • Raw Chia OG, GS
  • Raw Flax OG, GS
  • Raw Pumpkin OG, GS
  • Raw Sunflower OG, GS

Grains

  • Amaranth OG
  • Barley OG
  • Buckwheat OG
  • Millet OG
  • Oats OG, GS (Steel cut)
  • Quinoa OG, GS (powerhouse complete protein with all nine essential amino acids)
  • Spelt OG

Bread and Wraps

Look for organic, stone ground grains, sprouted bread, and wraps that contain no sugar or a minimum amount of honey for sweetness.

Vegetables Cruciferous (the superfood of veggies)

  • Arugula OG, GS
  • Bok Choy CONV, GS
  • Broccoli CONV, GS
  • Brussels Sprout CONV, GS
  • Cabbage CONV, GS
  • Cauliflower CONV, GS
  • Kale OG, GS
  • Rutabaga OG

Leafy Greens

  • Beet Greens OG
  • Chard OG
  • Collard OG
  • Mesclun OG
  • Microgreens OG
  • Spinach OG, GS
  • Watercress OG

Nightshade

  • Bell Peppers
    • Orange OG, GS
    • Yellow OG, GS
    • Red OG, GS
  • Cayenne peppers OG, GS
  • Chili peppers OG, GS
  • Eggplant CONV
  • Tomato OG, GS
  • Potatoes
    • Blue/Purple Potato OG
    • Red Bliss Potato OG, GS
    • White OG
    • Yukon Gold OG

Root

  • Carrot OG, GS
  • Celery OG
  • Fennel OG
  • Garlic OG, GS
  • Ginger OG, GS
  • Leek OG, GS
  • Onion CONV, GS
  • Parsnip OG
  • Radish OG, CONV
  • Sweet Potato OG, GS
  • Turmeric OG, GS
  • Turnip OG

Flowering Plants (various food families)

  • Artichoke OG
  • Asparagus OG, GS
  • Fennel OG
  • Scallion OG, GS
  • Shallot CONV, GS

 Sea Vegetables

  • Dulse OG
  • Irish Moss OG
  • Kelp OG
  • Kombu OG, CONV
  • Nori OG, GS
  • Salicornia OG
  • Sea Purslane OG
  • Seaweed OG, GS

Sprouts Beans

  • Aduki OG, GS
  • Black OG
  • Broad OG
  • Chickpea OG
  • Garbanzo OG
  • Green Pea OG, GS
  • Kidney OG
  • Lentil—green, black OG, GS
  • Lima OG
  • Mung OG
  • Pinto OG
  • Soya OG

Grains

  • Barley OG
  • Brown Rice OG
  • Broccoli CONV, GS
  • Buckwheat OG
  • Millet OG
  • Oats OG
  • Quinoa OG
  • Spelt OG

Seeds

  • Alfalfa OG
  • Broccoli OG
  • Chia OG
  • Clover OG
  • Flax OG
  • Leek OG
  • Millet OG
  • Radish OG
  • Sesame OG

Fermented Foods

  • Kimchi CONV (comprised of various veggies with cabbage as the main ingredient)
  • Miso OG, GS
  • Sauerkraut CONV, GS
  • Tempeh CONV, GS (also listed under plant proteins)

Fruit

  • Apple
    • Granny Smith OG, GS
  • Berries (the superfood of fruit)
    • Acai OG
    • Blackberry OG, GS
    • Blueberry OG, GS
    • Cranberry OG
    • Kiwi CONV
    • Raspberry OG, GS
    • Strawberry OG, GS
  • Citrus
    • Grapefruit OG, GS
    • Lemon OG, GS
    • Lime OG, GS
    • Tangelo OG
    • Tangerine OG
  • Melon
    • Cantaloupe CONV, GS
    • Honeydew CONV
    • Watermelon CONV, GS
    • Peach OG, GS
    • Pear OG, GS
    • Pineapple CONV, GS
    • Plum OG
    • Red Tart Cherry OG

Fruits Consumed as Veggies (not listed elsewhere)

  • Cucumbers OG, GS
  • Okra OG
  • Pumpkin OG
  • Squash CONV, GS

Tea

  • Green Tea OG, GS
  • Turmeric (curcumin) OG, GS
  • Reishi Mushroom OG, GS
  • Maitake OG
  • Ginger OG

Fish

I primarily consume wild-caught fish, but I make exceptions for certain responsibly farm-raised species, like salmon and rainbow trout, when I know where and how they are farmed, including what they’re fed. With few exceptions, wild-caught fish offers a higher concentration of omega-3s.

  • Salmon GS
  • Halibut GS
  • Cod GS
  • Rainbow Trout GS
  • Mackerel
  • Sardine

Spices + Herbs

  • Basil OG, GS
  • Black Pepper OG, GS
  • Chive OG
  • Cilantro OG, GS
  • Cinnamon OG, GS (Ceylon)
  • Dill OG
  • Fenugreek OG
  • Garlic OG, GS
  • Ginger OG, GS
  • Lavender OG
  • Marjoram OG
  • Mint OG, GS
  • Mustard Seed OG
  • Nutmeg OG
  • Oregano OG, GS
  • Parsley OG, GS
  • Rosemary OG, GS
  • Saffron
  • Sage OG
  • Sea Salt OG, GS (Pink Himalayan)
  • Star Anise
  • Thyme OG
  • Turmeric OG, GS

Mushrooms (fungi—so technically neither a veggie nor fruit)

EWG says it’s okay to purchase conventionally-grown mushrooms. However, controversy surrounds this subject. I err on the side of caution and purchase organic because mushrooms are quite porous, and can also contain high levels of heavy metals and other contaminants.

  • Cordyceps OG
  • Chaga OG
  • Lion’s Mane OG, GS
  • Maitake OG, GS
  • Reishi OG, GS
  • Shitake OG, GS
  • Turkey Tail OG

Oils

  • Avocado CONV, GS
  • Coconut CONV, GS
  • Fish OG, GS (wild source)
  • Flax GS
  • Olive OG, GS (extra virgin, first cold press)
  • Walnut OG

Sweeteners

  • Agave OG
  • Berries OG, GS
  • Coconut Nectar CONV, GS
  • Medjool Date OG, GS
  • Stevia OG, GS