When it comes to “the Big C”, there are things you can control and things you can’t. While risk factors such as genetics, gender and even where you were raised are squarely in the “can’t control” category, things like exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight fall into the “can control” column. Another thing you can control is which foods you DON’T eat, and, perhaps more importantly, what foods you DO eat. Here are a few foods that contain compounds shown in studies to fight cancer. You may be surprised!

Yogurt. You probably know that many yogurt brands contain live bacterial cultures that are important for maintaining a healthy digestive tract. But did you know these same bacteria may also protect against cancer? According to Dr. William Sears, M.D.*, lactobacteria, which is found in live-culture yogurt, binds to potential carcinogens and protects the cells from damage. These bacteria also inhibit the growth of nitrate-producing bacteria (nitrates are a potential carcinogen) and metabolize flavonoids, producing anti-tumor compounds.

Tofu. Soybeans, from which tofu is made, contain isoflavones that mimic estrogen and may block stronger, potentially cancer-causing estrogens found in the body and environment. This may reduce the risk of many estrogen-linked cancers in both women and men. Asian populations who eat tofu regularly have lower risks of these cancers. Tofu also contains powerful antioxidants that may protect against cancer.

Broccoli. That slight bitter taste we experience with broccoli is likely the key to its anti-cancer properties. The bitter chemicals isothiocyanates and glucosinolates deliver a double-whammy against would-be cancer cells. They interfere with cancer progression by activating enzymes that inhibit cancer cells and suppressing those that promote cancer.