10 Best Cancer Fighting Spices (Part 2: Garlic and Saffron)

If you were asked, ‘Which one superfood spice, shows up on almost every list of the most powerful and useful superfoods?’  Would you know the answer?

The answer is below…

What is Webster’s definition of “Superfood”?

:a food (such as salmon, broccoli, or blueberries) that is rich in compounds (such as antioxidants, fiber, or fatty acids) considered beneficial to a person’s health.1

We are taking an extended look at the top 10 categories of superfood beginning with spices.

Here are the, cancer free living, top 10 best cancer fighting spices, today we are looking at Garlic and Saffron:

  1. Turmeric
  2. Ginger
  3. Garlic
  4. Saffron
  5. Rosemary
  6. Cinnamon
  7. Parsley
  8. Cilantro
  9. Basil
  10. Oregano

Garlic:

Garlic stands out in a field all alone, it is the world’s most popular superfood.

History of Garlic:

Garlic is believed to be a native of central Asia, South Asia or southwestern Siberia.  There is some debate over the origin of this herb. It is one of the world’s oldest cultivated crops.  Garlic lovers carried the pungent herb into Egypt, Pakistan, India and China.  The crusaders brought back garlic to Europe. Later Spanish, French, and Portuguese settlers introduced garlic into the Americas.

The name garlic comes from garleac, an old Anglo-Saxon word meaning “spear leek.” Garlic is believed to be descended from Allium longicuspis, a wild strain of Asian garlic but its origins are still in question. It is from the lily (Liliaceae) family and related to onions, leeks, chives, and shallots.2

Garlic and Cancer:

According to government controlled research studies3.  Garlic has been studied from the point of population studies and clinical studies; in other words, from just about every way possible. Population studies looked at large groups of people like Iowa Woman’s Health Study4.  The study concluded that: “Women who consumed the highest amounts of garlic had a 50 percent lower risk of cancer of the distal colon compared with women who had the lowest level of garlic consumption”5.

The clinical studies are very difficult to do because of all the parameters and conditions required.  Subsequently there are few ‘clinical’ studies but clinical studies value is considered more important.  During one clinical research study, testing basil skin cancer on 21 people, in only one month, 17 of the people noticeable decrease in their cancer6.

Garlic has been used as medicine from first recorded history.  The study of garlic is very interesting.  Today if you Google “Garlic and Cancer” you will be amazed how many videos, written articles and research papers tackle this topic.

How to eat Garlic:

Raw, just peel, crush and eat7.  Do not swallow the garlic whole, it must be crushed.  When a raw garlic is crushed it releases allicin which is the antibiotic property of garlic.  If a person swallows the garlic bulb s/he will get garlic breath and not get the benefit of the allicin.  Only one company seems to sell allicillin in a capsule, Designs for Health.  The benefits are very healthy but the strong breath is still a side effect.

Cooking with fresh, whole, garlic is by far the best way to cook garlic.  Sometimes, when I am in a hurry, I use the minced garlic, which I purchase at Sprouts, and garlic powder, which I buy in bulk.  Allicin is the part of the garlic that begins the break down process of the garlic and is the part that gives garlic its strong taste.  Here is a website that provides little known secrets when cooking with garlic: http://www.gourmetgarlicgardens.com/cooking-with-garlic.html

Saffron:

History of Saffron: Saffron has been found in pre-historic cave art discovered around Iraq and Iran (Persia).  Remnants Saffron as medicine, yellow dye, woven into a burial garb, drunk as a tea, and given to a lover as an aphrodisiac are all recorded in ancient manuscripts.8 Saffron was totally embraced by the Greco-Roman region.  Alexander the Great used it in his baths and recommended it to all his soldiers for its amazing healing power. Saffron was proclaimed as the most expensive spice on earth, more expensive than gold.  The misgiving is that Saffron requires so little to be effective.  One gram (approx. $10) could easily last a month if consumed as a tea daily.  Today, Saffron is exploding in the U.S. due to some American soldiers who convinced Afghanistan farmers to grow Saffron instead of poppies.  Afghanistan’s primary export has been opioids but Saffron is gaining ground and acceptance daily.9

Saffron and cancer:

Some of the first research papers on Saffron discovered that Crocetin (the chemical in Saffron that effects cancer cells) inhibits new cell growth in pancreatic cancer and tumor progression.10

Here is how Saffron fights cancer:

  • Anti-tumor and stimulates apoptosis (self-destruction of cancer cells)11
  • It can inhabit the spread of lung, colon, and breast cancer12
  • Increase affinity of antioxidants to cancer inducing compounds13

Best way to enjoy Saffron:

Saffron is a small blue flower that has reddish stamens which are harvested by hand only; after being dried and placed in water for tea, the tea turns yellow.  The energetic part of saffron is like the rainbow.  A special blessing to the country of Afghanistan and the world.

Use Saffron as a spice in your food.  If you are making soups or a dinner with a lot of liquid I just smash the threads between my index finger and thumb, this will release the color pallet and add a wonderful flavor to the mix.  If you are making a salad dressing, soak saffron in a little water before adding it to your dressing.  Key take away, saffron is powerful, a little goes a long way.

 

References:

  1. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/superfood
  2. http://greyduckgarlic.com/The_History_of_Garlic.html
  3. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/garlic-fact-sheet#q5
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8296768
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8296768
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12756587
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26809277
  8. http://edenaromata.edenaromata.com/About/AllAboutSaffron/HistoryofSaffron
  9. https://www.rumispice.com/blogs/rumi-red-saffron/saffron-is-the-new-opium-sort-of
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19208826
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23494763
  12. http://foodforbreastcancer.com/foods/saffron
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4488115/

 

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