The particular fats, antioxidant polyphenols and proteins that make nuts heart-healthy also help prevent cancer:
- Phytic acid is a natural plant antioxidant found in nuts and seeds. It serves as a potent antioxidant to help preserve seeds and may reduce the rate of colon cancer and other inflammatory bowel diseases via the same mechanism.
- The coatings of all nuts and seeds are rich in the antioxidant polyphenols associated with reduced risk of cancer. (This is another reason to choose raw nuts and seeds in the shell, versus processed nuts and seeds.)
- Beta-sistosterol and campesterol—two of the phytosterols in most nuts—appear to suppress breast and prostate tumors.
- The amino acid arginine abundant in most nuts—especially almonds—also inhibits tumor growth and boosts immunity.
- Walnuts are especially helpful because they contain ellagic acid—the cancer-fighting polyphenol antioxidant also found in pomegranates and red raspberries.
- Selenium, another key antioxidant factor and cancer-preventive mineral, is especially abundant in Brazil nuts.