Five Spices To Add To Your Cancer Diet (with recipes)

by Team Onco

Spices have been used from ancient times, in many cultures, to cure problems like coughs, cold, indigestion and inflammation. 

While cancer is a complicated disease that cannot be cured solely through diet, some foods are known to reduce some of the side-effects of cancer treatment to some extent. 

Here we look at the benefits of five spices that are commonly found in every Indian kitchen. 

1. Ginger 

  • The smell and taste of ginger helps reduce several side-effects of chemotherapy like nausea and vomiting.
  • It improves digestion.
  • It reduces inflammation (swelling, redness, burning etc). 
  • It contains vitamin C which boosts the immune system. 

You can add grated ginger to your soups, like carrot soup and sweet potato soup, as well as, to dry vegetable side-dishes. 

Here is a simple recipe to help you reap the benefits of ginger:

Recipe for Ginger Tea

spices for cancer diet

Ginger Tea


1 piece of fresh ginger

A slice of lemon, peeled (optional)

1 tsp honey


  1. Clean and peel an inch-long piece of fresh ginger.
  2. Boil it well in clean water till the fragrance of ginger is obvious.
  3. You can also add some peeled bits of lemon to this, if you like. 
  4. Once it cools to lukewarm temperature you can stir in a spoonful of honey and serve. 

2. Turmeric

  • Turmeric contains plenty of antioxidants that protect your cells from cancer-causing free-radicals.
  • It also has anti-inflammatory properties and boosts your immune system. 

Almost all Indian curries and stir fries contain turmeric. You can also add  it to rice while cooking to get fragrant, yellow rice. 

Here is the recipe for a warm and comforting turmeric drink that can be enjoyed daily.

Recipe for Golden Milk

turmeric for cancer diet

Golden Milk


1 cup fresh coconut milk (Step one shows how you can make this) or any low fat milk

¼ tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp honey


  1. You can make coconut milk by grating fresh coconut and then, squeezing out the milk from it using a blender and some water. Then, drain it to get coconut milk. Or you can use any other low fat milk instead. 
  2. Slightly warm this milk and add a quarter teaspoon of turmeric to it.
  3. Add a teaspoon of honey and stir well.

3. Garlic 

This pungent spice is an immunity booster. Some studies even claim that it might slow down the growth of cancer cells. 

Garlic needs to be consumed in moderate amounts as it might lead to certain side-effects, depending on what medication that you are on. You can consult your doctor, if in doubt. 

Recipe for Garlic Tea

spices for cancer diet

Garlic Tea

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2 pods of garlic

½ cup of honey

½ cup lemon juice


  1. Skin two pods of garlic and boil it well in water. 
  2. Turn off the heat once it has boiled for three-four minutes. 
  3. Add half a cup of honey and half a cup of lemon juice to enhance the taste and also improve the nutritional value of the drink. 
  4. You can consume this drink warm.

4. Cinnamon 

There are two types of cinnamon. The one most commonly used in Indian cuisine and also more commonly available in the market is the ‘cassia bark’ variety. This is commonly used in biryanis and other spicy dishes.

 The lighter and curled variety called ‘ceylon’ cinnamon is used in desserts like apple pie. 

Here we are talking about the less commonly available ‘ceylon’ variety of cinnamon. Although all types of cinnamon have some benefits, the ceylon variety has lower amounts of coumarin and is therefore preferred over the other varieties. 

  • Cinnamon is rich in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • It also helps control blood sugar levels.

However, it is important to consume it in small quantities as it can have certain side-effects, including renal and liver damage if consumed in large quantities. Do not consume more than ½ teaspoon per day.

Recipe for Cinnamon Banana Smoothie

spices for cancer diet

Cinnamon Banana Smoothie


1 ripe banana

2 tsp oats

½ tsp cinnamon powder

1/2 tsp chocolate powder

1/2 cup water

3 tsp yogurt

1 tsp honey

2 tsp chopped almonds and raisins


  1. Mix all of the ingredients in a blender.
  2. Warm the ingredients in a pan to make it thicker. (optional)
  3. Garnish with nuts chopped almonds and raisins.

5. Cardamom

  • Cardamom has antioxidant properties.
  • It helps to control blood pressure. 
  • Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, it might protect against chronic illnesses.
  • It can help ulcers heal and also improves oral health.
  • Some studies suggest that it improves respiration. 

Cardamom flavoured tea is a popular choice and there are also desserts like kheer that use cardamoms for flavour. 

Recipe for Warm Cardamom Milk

spices for cancer diet

Warm Cardamom Milk


1 cup of low fat milk 

Half a stick of cinnamon

4 pods of cardamom

One spoon of honey


  1. Gently crush the cardamom pods in a mortar so that the seeds are visible. 
  2. Warm the milk in a saucepan, with the cardamom and the cinnamon stick. 
  3. Add the honey to taste. 
  4. Once bubbles start appearing around the edges of the saucepan, turn off the flame. 
  5. Let it steep for ten minutes.
  6. Strain the liquid and serve warm.

If you are looking for customised meal plans or have any cancer-related queries, do email us at You can also consult a dietician here.

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