African Cancer-Fighting Foods

Yesterday, the 4th of February, the world observed World Cancer Day. The Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) says that everyone has the power to create a world free of cancer by doing their bit.

“The aim is to challenge all to ‘start where they are, use what they have and do what they can’ to make a difference in the fight against cancer. So ‘who are you?’ and ‘what will you do?’ to raise awareness of cancer and lower your personal and community cancer risk”? (CANSA)

This message really resonates with us, as it has become a very sad norm that everyone knows someone suffering from the disease. As it stands, there is still no definitive cause of the more than 200 types of cancer. It is a mystery, much like the cure. However, what we do know is that most cases these days seem to be a consequence of a variety of harmful environmental and lifestyle factors, like bad fats, refined sugar (such as intensively processed foods, refined sugar and flour), new chemicals added to food and a plethora of chemicals leaked into the air.

All of this means we need to stay vigilant about what we consume and, as always, look to organic food to help us give our bodies what they need to fight off disease. Below are some of the traditional African foods known to have cancer-fighting properties, so start growing and consuming!

cancer fighting foodCabbage

This underrated vegetable has been quoted in studies as a cancer-fighting food. The red or purple cabbage in particular is rich in anthocyanins, which are known for their cancer-fighting properties. The vegetable also contains indole-3-carbinol, omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants and beta carotene, all known for their powerful healing or medicinal characteristics. Eat raw or as a salad, stir-fry or sauerkraut – just be sure to not overcook or boil it so as to preserve the nutrients.


Growing in the wild and often classified as an irritant weed, blackjack is actually a leafy vegetable that can be dried for tea making. Its nutrients are linked in fighting several cancers like cervical, liver and breast cancers. It also has possible anti-tumour properties and has been investigated in the treatment of leukaemia. To best absorb its nutrients, it is advised to add healthy fats like avocado or nuts when eating blackjack.

cancer fighting foodPapaya

Papaya and pawpaw have been credited with anti-cancer properties thanks to their large number of immune-boosting nutrients. These nutrients work together to provide various health benefits, and cancer fighting is one of them. While mainly eaten as a fruit, papaya leaves can also be used for tea making, and the seeds can be eaten dry, crushed or as is.


This “superfruit,” known for its high levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, has about 31 scientifically backed benefits – hence the name “Tree of Life” in some African regions. Baobab leaves and powder contain high amounts of antioxidants which help reduce inflammation, a key to preventing cancer. The fruit’s pulp, seed and leaves can be consumed as is or as a powder, however, the sun-dried, crushed leaves retain most of the medicinal properties.

Eaten as part of a balanced diet, lots of fruits and vegetables are cited as cancer-fighting foods, however we do advise that organically grown goods are preferable. Last year (2018) a group of French scientists reported a 25% decrease in overall cancer risk on a sample group who ate high levels of organic foods versus little or no organic foods at all. Read a summary of the study here. Also read our past blog post about the benefits of eating organic.

Encouraged by CANSA, at Abundance Wholesome Foods we encourage you to join us as we improve and share our knowledge of cancer in order to educate our communities and families and lower the risks of developing the disease. With early cancer detection, treatment can be very successful. Visit CANSA and get involved.

Disclaimer: External information referenced is for purposes of this article only and does not imply partnership or association with the organisation or its specific view point.


4 thoughts on “African Cancer-Fighting Foods”

  1. Thank you I think if we all think before we consume we’ll all be alot healthier & disease free, I love to eat most vegetables raw, or just blanch & not cook to death.
    Do you know what vegetables & fruit to stay away from?

    • We are not medical professionals so can’t advise on what is best for you specifically. We advise that you do your research and listen to your body and how it reacts to certain foods.


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