5 Anti-Cancer Foods That Are in Season—and How to Eat Them Now

Photograph by merc67 via iStock.

While eating a wide array of fruits and vegetables is a good way to fight against many chronic diseases, there are certain foods that act as good sources of antioxidants or other anti-cancer nutrients that may help to keep cancer cells from growing. If you want to eat organic, locally-sourced versions of these foods, it’s good to know what’s in season on the East Coast. According to a guide by the Cornell Cooporative Extension, here’s some foods that in season during the winter in the Northeast.


It’s not just trendy—there’s actually some real health benefits that go with eating this dark, leafy green. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, researchers think that carotenoids in kale can help prevent breast, skin, lung, and stomach cancer cells from growing. Admittedly, raw kale isn’t the tastiest of vegetables, but you can make it at home with garlic (another cancer-fighting food!) as a dinner side dish with this recipe, or pick up a kale salad at Chop’t or Sweetgreen for a quick lunch. 


While it’s as delicious as it is pungent, the National Cancer Institute says that studies have shown that populations that eat more garlic have a lower risk of stomach and colorectal cancers. The beauty of garlic is that it tastes good with just about anything. You can try the kale dish mentioned above, toss it in with steamed broccoli or green beans, or use it to season fish, as seen in this recipe. In a hurry? You can also find it in Pret a Manger’s tomato feta soup (though you’ll want to watch your sodium with that particular dish).

Winter Squash

Yes, this includes pumpkins, and the carotenoids in them not only can help with eye health, but the antioxidants in pumpkins can help defend your cells against free radicals. Throughout the fall and winter, there’s a million ways to add pumpkins to your diet. There’s a recipe for pumpkin soup topped with garlic kale for triple the anti-cancer power on the National Foundation for Cancer Research’s website, or there’s the Barley Pumpkin Kale soup available at Takoma Park and M Street’s Soupergirl.


As with pumpkins, carrots are a source of carotenoids. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, the luteolin in carrots has been shown in studies to help in fighting cancer. While plain, raw carrots packed for your lunch are a perfectly fine way to eat them, jazzing them up with some cumin yogurt, as seen in this recipe, can be delicious.


The phytochemicals and antioxidants in apples may help to inhibit the growth of cancer cells, plus they make for a tasty snack. Try them in a sweet potato and apple stack with this recipe at home. Or if, if need be, you can pick up a fresh apple at Panera or Pret a Manger for a healthy mid-day snack while working downtown.

Associate Editor

Caroline Cunningham joined Washingtonian in 2014 after moving to the DC area from Cincinnati, where she interned and freelanced for Cincinnati Magazine and worked in content marketing. She currently resides in College Park.