Sambar Helps Prevent Colon Cancer

Source: Pharmacognosy Magazine  
Idli, Chutney & Sambar
Idli, Chutney & Sambar

Colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed type of cancer, especially in the western countries. One contributing factor to this is the kind of food consumed in the western countries. Apart from factors such as obesity, sedentary lifestyle and old age, erratic dietary choices can also wreak havoc on health.

Significant studies have shown that countries which follow low fibre and high fat diet are more at risk of being diagnosed with colon cancer than countries which do not. Also, consumption of foods high in calories, red meat and processed meat increase the chances of colon cancer.

Many studies have shown the traditional and scientific value of spices in food. Not only do spices make the food taste better, they also contain various therapeutic benefits that help to keep several chronic diseases at bay. Commonly used herbs such as black cumin (kaala jeera), garlic (lahsun), cloves (laung), cinnamon (dalcheeni), thyme (ajvaayan), black pepper (kaali mirch), bay leaves (tej patta) and mustard seeds (sarson) possess antimicrobial and anticarcinogen elements that help prevent cancer. Minor dietary agents such as turmeric, saffron and flaxseed contain carotenoids which are known to prevent certain types of cancer and eye diseases. They also possess elements like catechins that are known for their antioxidant properties and help prevent heart disease, cancer and brain-related degenerative diseases such as dementia.

A recent preclinical study has shown that sambar, an Indian dish, has therapeutic effects in colon cancer. The spices used in sambar are dried, finely powdered and added in a specific manner to give the dish its rich, exotic taste. The spices include fenugreek seeds, coriander seeds, dried chilli, asafoetida, curry leaves, black pepper and turmeric. All these ingredients were found to be anti-carcinogenic in the study. Another finding of the study was that sambar prevents demethylhydrazine (DMH)-induced oxidation in the tissues of colon, which means that it has antioxidant elements.

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