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12 Healthy Foods Arab Americans Eat That Prevent Cancer!

posted on: May 29, 2019

By: Annika Wolfe/ Arab America Contributing Writer

As cancer research progresses, we are learning more and more about the foods that can help prevent the disease. Many of the fruits and vegetables we already eat can prevent cancer. Arab Americans are very health-conscious when it comes to their ingredients and snacks. Here are 12 healthy foods Arab Americans eat to prevent cancer!


Strawberries are rich in antioxidants such as vitamin C and ellagic acid, a phytochemical. They have been found to possibly protect against heart disease and memory decline as well as cancer.

Try this recipe for Strawberry Fattoush Salad!


Tomatoes contain the antioxidant lycopene, which has been found to protect against certain cancers such as prostate and lung cancer. Want to incorporate more tomatoes into your diet?

Enjoy our recipe for Salatat Banadura, a tomato salad!

Olive oil

Olive oil is a staple in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine not only because of its many uses, but its health benefits as well. Olive oil has been found to prevent many types of cancer, including breast, prostate, and colon cancer. In fact, breast cancer rates are 50 percent lower in Mediterranean countries than in the United States.

Chickpeas and Fava beans

Chickpeas are also quite popular in Middle Eastern cuisine. They have been found to contain selenium, this helps the enzymes of the liver to function properly and detoxify some cancer-causing compounds in the body. Additionally, selenium prevents inflammation and decreases tumor growth rates. Fava beans also contain enzymes and antioxidants that can help your body fight cancerous cells.

Enjoy our recipe for Leblabi, chickpea soup or hummus!

Greens (Spinach, Dandeline, Mlukhiyyeh)

Greens like spinach are a wonderful resource for many of the recommended vitamins and antioxidants. Spinach is rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids that remove unstable molecules called free radicals from your body before they damage it. Studies have found that greens can protect against cancer of the mouth, esophagus, and stomach.

Try our recipe for Fatayer bi Sabanekh, spinach pies!


Garlic is another heavily used ingredient in many Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cooking. Several studies show that garlic can reduce the risk of certain cancers, including cancers of the stomach, colon, esophagus, pancreas, and breast.

Try our recipe for Tajine Dejaj, chicken in garlic or Khyar wa Laban, garlic cucumber yogurt salad!



A study was conducted and found that women who ate lentils two or more times per week had a 34 percent lower risk of breast cancer than women who ate them one or fewer times per month.

Enjoy our recipe for Marak al Dal, red lentils!


Almonds are a popular snack, garnish, and ingredient in many cultures and cuisines. They have been found to reduce breast cancer risk because they contain a protective factor against breast cancer development.

Try our recipe for chicken and almond couscous!


Fish has been found to have many health benefits because it has high levels of omega-3s and fatty acids. There is evidence saying that increased fish consumption and a reduced risk of breast, prostate, and bowel cancer. It is recommended that fish be consumed at least twice a week for the best results.

Try our recipe for Hout Miqlee, Moroccan fish steaks or Shawrabat Samak, a fish soup!


Eggs, specifically egg yolks, contain vitamin D and have been linked to both heart disease and cancer prevention. They have also been found to reduce the risk for breast cancer.

Enjoy our recipe for Fatut, scrambled eggs and bread!


Photo Credit: Jonathan Colon.

Carrots are one of the most popular vegetables in the United States and contain numerous vitamins and antioxidants that can fight cancer and other illnesses. They have luteolin, a flavonoid phytochemical that shows antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects in laboratory studies.

Try our recipe for Shlada Disjada, a carrot salad!


Cauliflower has many health benefits but may also prevent cancer. It may help prevent the growth of polyps that lead to the development of colon cancer. It is thought that sulforaphane, a natural chemical found in cruciferous vegetables, may be helpful in the prevention of cancer.

Enjoy this recipe for Lebanese Cauliflower!