Study co-author Trygve Tollefsbol said epigenetics research worldwide, including numerous studies conducted at the University of Alabama, have identified specific food compounds found in food such as broccoli and cabbage inhibit negative epigenetic effects that can help reverse or help prevent cancers and other aging-related diseases.
"Your mother always told you to eat your vegetables, and she was right," Tollefsbol said in a statement. "But now we better understand why she was right -- compounds in many of these foods suppress gene aberrations that over time cause fatal diseases."
The epigenetics diet includes such foods as soybeans, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, green tea, fava beans, kale, grapes and the spice turmeric, Tollefsbol said.
"The epigenetics diet can be adopted easily, because the concentrations of the compounds needed for a positive effect are readily achievable," lead author Syed Meeran said.
Meeran said sipping tea compounds called polyphenols in daily amounts that are equivalent to approximately three cups of green tea has been shown to reverse breast cancer in laboratory mice by suppressing the gene that triggers the disease. A daily cup of broccoli sprouts, which has sulforaphane as an active compound, has been shown to reduce the risk of developing many cancers, Tollefsbol said.
The review is published in the journal Clinical Epigenetics.