Originally published 1/16/2017
When it comes to prostate cancer, a growing body of research continues to identify preventive and therapeutic nutrients in fruits. These compounds are referred to a phytonutrients or phytochemicals (“phyto” means plant). Apples have high concentrations of two types of phytonutrients that have a variety of biological actions that help deter prostate cancer: proanthocyanidins and flavonols.
There’s another fruit you may not have heard of, called the sugar apple. It’s not an apple as we know it. It’s part of a group of exotic fruits called Annona squamosa. The pulp, seeds and peel of Annona fruits, particularly two subspecies, have been shown to have antioxidant, antimicrobial and anticancer activity.
Extracts from the seeds, especially, contain bioactive compounds. A genetic engineering/food technology research team performed laboratory analysis of seed extract effects on four different types of cancer cells: colon, prostate, liver and breast.[i] At the molecular level, they identified mechanisms that discourage the proliferation of cancer cells, and encourage programmed cell death. While more research into the anticancer potential of Annona fruits, this study adds to the evidence that plant-based nutrition is in the best interests of your prostate.
This may not be the “news you’ve been waiting for” but if you want to prevent prostate cancer, it is certainly noteworthy. A November, 2016 study published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research[ii] should have men rushing to the produce department! A study of 777 men diagnosed with prostate cancer showed that those who consumed more fruits and vegetables had higher survival probability at the 15-year mark. The dietary key was foods rich in fiber, proanthocyanidins and flavonols – in short, fruits and veggies.
- Fiber – We all need fiber. Among other benefits, it helps lower cholesterol and blood sugar by slowing digestion, thus helping prevent cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
- Proanthocyanidins – These plant-based powerful antioxidants are not considered essential for life in the way vitamins and minerals are. However, they have a protective function for skin, they help keep joints flexible, and have added benefits in the cardiac and circulatory systems. studies with animals have shown that two particular proanthocyanidins from cranberries and grape seeds are toxic to tumor cells. Good fruit sources of proanthocyanidins include grapes (seeds and skins), apples, blueberries, cranberries, and black currants. Most vegetables are not high in proanthocyanidins, but peas and beans contain some.
- Flavonols – Although flavonols are not considered nutrients, they assist in lowering “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and reducing the risk of chronic disease. One flavonol, quercetin, has been linked with prevention of organ cancers such as prostate cancer. Foods high in quercetin include apples (skin only), blueberries, cranberries, kale and onions. Cooking may reduce its efficacy, so eating these foods raw is best.
The authors of the study found that those men who consumed higher than average amounts of fruits and vegetables had higher overall survival probability (death from any cause) at 15 years from the time of diagnosis. This was especially so for those who ate foods high in fiber and proanthocyanidins. The risk of dying from prostate cancer at 15 years was particularly reduced by foods rich in proanthocyanidins and flavonols. The authors concluded, “High consumption of fruit and vegetables offers an advantage in survival among the rising number of men living after a PCa diagnosis.”
The moral is, fruits and vegetables high in proanthocyanidins and flavonols may help prevent prostate cancer, may help protect current patients from disease progression, and contribute to your overall longevity. Consider buying organic produce, but the most important thing is to increase the amount.
NOTE: This content is solely for purposes of information and does not substitute for diagnostic or medical advice. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing pelvic pain, or have any other health concerns or questions of a personal medical nature.
[i] Shehata MG, Abu-Serie MM, Abd El-Aziz NM, El-Sohaimy SA. Nutritional, phytochemical, and in vitro anticancer potential of sugar apple (Annona squamosa) fruits. Sci Rep. 2021 Mar 18;11(1):6224.
[ii] Taborelli M, Polesel J, Perpinel M, Stocco C et al. Fruit and vegetables consumption is directly associated to survival after prostate cancer. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2016 Nov 2. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201600816. [Epub ahead of print]