Five Superstar Anti-Cancer Compounds: And Where to Find Them in Food

Anti-Cancer Compounds in Your Food


If you do a search for “Anti-Cancer Foods” you will find lists and lists of foods that have compounds proven to fight and prevent cancer cells from forming, spreading and even cause them to die off. Food plays a very important role in preventing and fighting cancer. Whether you decide to treat cancer using traditional methods or choose an alternative method one thing will remain the same… you still need to eat food. Sounds pretty obvious but it may have more of an impact on the success or potential side effects of your treatment than you know.

There are many different compounds that are found in food and between different foods these compounds can remain similar in their function and method of aiding the body. In 1991 the National Cancer Institute conducted a study to identify these compounds and their implications with cancer. After their $20 million study of fruits and vegetables (Journal of the Nation Cancer Institute April 17, 1991) they identified a few superstar compounds:

  • Isoflavones
  • Protease Inhibitors
  • Saponins
  • Phytosterols
  • Phytic Acid

These compounds come in various forms and for this article I will just focus on a few of them.



One isoflavone that gets a lot of attention, and rightfully so, is Genistein. It is a hormone-like substance that has been the subject of numerous studies. It has been studied for its ability to inhibit the initialization of cellular pathways that lead to cancer and stop Notch signaling, the Notch pathway is a regulator of natural immunity and inflammation. Genistein is a phytoestrogen and antioxidant. This powerhouse isoflavone is still being studied for the many anticancer, anti-inflammation, antioxidant and various other implications.

Researchers in Finland came to the conclusion that areas of Japan have lower rates of breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer due to the dietary absorption of genistein. Genistein is a weaker estrogen that binds itself on estrogen receptors in cancerous cells that need this hormone to grow. Genistein is also great at depriving cancer cells of tyrosine protein kinase, which is necessary for them to flourish, and disrupting enzymes that allow cancerous tumors development.

This is all pretty a pretty fancy way of saying that the isoflavone genistein is a power player when it comes to fighting cancer. It is a massive anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Foods naturally rich in isoflavones could be a great addition to an anti-cancer diet.

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Protease Inhibitors

Protease inhibitors have been widely studied for their ability to combat cancer by preventing the synthesis of key proteins required for cancer cells spread. By destroying premalignant cells they block the initiation of the cancer process. One specific protease inhibitor that has been specifically studied for its implications with cancer is the Bowman-Birk inhibitor. In vitro and in vivo studies have shown that the Bowman-Birk inhibitor can exert a protective and/or suppressive effect on cancer development. It has also been studied for its anti-inflammatory effects and immune boosting properties while reducing auto-immune responses.

The Bowman-Birk inhibitor has shown some pretty incredible results when tested against numerous human cancer cell lines and animal-based cancer models. All this and it does not interfere with function and replication of normal, healthy cells.

Yet another powerful compound on our list that helps destroy cancerous and precancerous cells, but not normal, healthy cells. Foods naturally rich in protease inhibitors could be a great addition to an anti-cancer diet.

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Saponins are plant steroids that foam when mixed with water. This is where their name comes from. In Latin the word “sapo,” means soap. But, these little guys are much more than just the cleanup crew. They have been studied for their ability to induce cancer cell death, improve immune function and fight free radical damage. Lab studies also show these compounds can destroy leukemia cells and keep them from potentially spreading throughout the body.

By affecting cell morphology, proliferation enzymes, and growth, saponins may also be effective in preventing colon cancer. There are also studies that show saponins can block certain signaling pathways in colon cancer cells. These pathways are crucial for the survival of the colon cancer cell. These implications also may apply to other types of cancer.

Whether you are a scientist or not, this all sounds like a good thing when looking for natural compounds that fight cancer. Saponins help fight inflammation, free radical damage and improve immune function. Foods naturally rich in saponins could be a great addition to an anti-cancer diet.

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Plant sterols are compounds found in plants that are structurally related to cholesterol. Phytosterols have been studied for their well-known effects on cholesterol levels. There is increasing evidence that adding phytosterols into the diet can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. However, there is also research into the potential role it can play in mitigating cancer risk. Their cholesterol modulating actions may actually overlap with anti-cancer actions.

Researchers at the University of Manitoba in Canada have reported evidence that phytosterols can help prevent ovarian, breast, stomach and lung cancer. One of the reasons this is believed to happen is due to the high antioxidant levels and their anti-inflammatory effects. This like the other compounds mentioned before will fight free radical damage that produces unhealthy cells. They also have been found to inhibit proliferation (multiplication of cells) and induce natural apoptosis (cell death). There is much to be learned about phytosterols and their role in the body.

Plant sterols are yet another anti-cancerous, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compound that we need to pay attention to. Early human diets were rich in phytosterols whereas the current typical western diet is relatively low. Foods naturally rich in phytosterols could be a great addition to an anti-cancer diet.

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Phytic Acid

Aside from cancer prevention, dietary phytates been reported to help protect against diabetes mellitus, dental cavities, heart disease and prevent kidney stone formation. Phytates have shown a targeted approach in attacking cancer cells. In studies on colon cancer and leukemia, only the unhealthy cells were killed off and the normal healthy cells were left alone. Much like the other compounds in this list, a combination of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting activities, detox, differentiation, and anti-angiogenesis are the methods of targeting cancer cells. These are all the principal pathways needed to fight cancer.

Phytates have the ability to act on immune function to augment NK (Natural Killer) cells to hunt and dispose of cancerous cells. One remarkable quality of phytates is their ability to make a cancer cell stop acting like a cancerous cell and return normal functioning cell. This is pretty amazing. They have also been studied for their ability to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy.

Phytates have been looked at as an “anti-nutrient” in the past due to their ability to bind minerals in the digestive tract, making them less available to our bodies. However, these same properties are what help in the prevention of chronic disease. Phytic acid binds with various metals and suppresses damaging oxidation. Foods naturally rich in phytates could be a great addition to an anti-cancer diet.

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How to Incorporate These Into Your Diet.


There has been so much research on these 5 superstars that it can get overwhelming. Today, it is getting harder than ever to get high quality and nutrient rich foods. There are many factors that contribute to this like genetic modification, soil quality and harvest standards. When trying to grow enough food for the billions of people on this planet, some of the advances in agriculture have also had their setbacks. It is becoming more and more important to make conscious decisions on what to eat and what not to eat. Especially if you are fighting a degenerative disease.

Here is the good news. There is one food that is high in all 5 of these compounds and it has been consumed for thousands of years. That food is Soybeans. That’s right. Soybeans have all 5 of these anti-cancer compounds. There are over 2000 different strains of soybeans that have been identified and each of them has a different nutrient profile, some having more of these compounds than others. Soybeans also need to be fermented to get the maximum benefit and bioavaibility of these compounds. Fermented foods also have the ability to raise the PH of your body. Getting your body to a more alkaline state will also help to fight off cancer. Yet another anticancer benefit. Fermented soybeans can also have a fantastic amino acid profile. With branched-chain and essential amino acids, fermented soybeans can help with muscle recovery, soreness and muscle wasting. Amino acids are what the body uses to make proteins, help to break down food, grow, repair and preform many other functions.

The Big Issue

But, the issue…and there is a big issue, getting high quality, non-GMO, organic soybeans into your diet is not as easy as you may think. Genetically modified and processed soy has taken over the market. Finding nutrient rich soil to grow in is also becoming more and more difficult. This is why people have been looking to Haelan Products for over 28 years. Haelan 951 is an organic, non-GMO, fermented soybean beverage made from a very unique strain of soybean that is very abundant in all 5 of these anticancer compounds. Plus, it has the added benefit of the various other natural complementary compounds that are found in soybeans. Haelan 951 has been studied for its effect on cancer, immune function, ALS, PTSD and more.

If you are looking to boost your diet with these 5 compounds, consider adding Haelan 951 today.


Jim Ladwig

Director or Marketing at Haelan Products - Certified Health Coach

Jim became Marketing Director at Haelan Products in February 2019. During his own battle with cancer he started taking Haelan 951. After seeing such amazing results, he developed a passion for natural ways to heal the body. He is fully embracing the Haelan Products mission of helping individuals and families experience the joy that comes from restored health.