Eat These Foods to Help Prevent Breast Cancer
Can you eat to fight breast cancer?
Well, studies show you can … and modifying your diet to include the cancer-fighting benefits of some foods certainly does more good than harm. Eating this way can be easy and affordable, too.
In a world where wellness marketing hits us from every angle, selling us everything from mushroom coffees to supercharged gummy vitamins, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with the ‘whats’ and ‘whys’ and ‘how muchs’ we truly need to realize our best health.
Fortunately, nature provides us with so many natural, accessible foods that studies show can help prevent deadly cancers. Sometimes simple really is best. It’s wonderful to think we can give our bodies the good things it needs to function and fight sicknesses like breast cancer.
For example, two studies conducted in the Spring of 2021 funded by the American Institute of Cancer Research found that a diet high in vegetables and low in carbohydrates and fruit juice was shown to help breast cancer survivors live longer.
No trendy diets are required to reap cancer-busting benefits — just enjoy the benefits of everyday, natural foods, along with limiting red meat, dairy, and foods that are heavily processed or high in refined sugars.
So get in a Mediterranean mindset, or shop like your great-great-grandmother, when you make the next meal plan and grocery list. Here are 8 foods (technically 7 foods, one drink) that nutritionists and cancer specialists promote for their breast cancer prevention benefits.
Foods to Help prevent Breast Cancer
1. Plant-based proteins.
Vegans appeared to have the lowest cancer rate of any diet. While tofu and seitan are popular meat alternatives, foods like edamame, lentils, chickpeas, almonds, quinoa, and even green peas all contain high levels of plant-based protein. Some easy ways to go meatless are to replace meat with beans, walnuts, or ‘meaty’ veggies like mushrooms and eggplant. Another idea is to use meat as more of a condiment with a meal rather than having it be the main event.
One Harvard study observed that eating high amounts of blueberries was significantly associated with lower breast cancer rates. This was attributed to blueberries’ bioactive components that may prevent or slow breast tumors from growing or spreading.
3. Beans and Fiber-Rich Foods.
An early American Cancer Society study found that a higher fiber intake is linked to a lower risk of first developing breast cancer. Some healthy sources of fiber include beans and legumes, of course, but also collard greens, strawberries, bananas, corn, and oatmeal.
4. Allium Veggies.
Allium veggies include garlic, onions, leeks, chives, and scallions. Apparently, these tasty morsels are packed with breast cancer-preventing properties. Epidemiological studies have shown that a higher intake of allium products is associated with reduced risk of several types of cancers, and the findings are well correlated with laboratory investigations.
5. Spices and Herbs.
A study conducted by scientists at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center and published in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment found pepper and turmeric inhibited the growth of cancerous stem cells of breast tumors.
6. Dark Leafy Greens.
Kale, spinach, and collard greens are just a few examples of the many dark, leafy greens that do their part to battle breast cancer. The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) found that breast cancer survivors who ate an average of two servings of leafy greens a day had a 20 percent lower risk of dying compared to those who ate close to none (taking into account physical activity, smoking, weight change, and other risk factors).
7. Cruciferous veggies.
We all know broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and brussels sprouts are good for us. But how good? John Hopkins studies dating back to 1997 found anticarcinogenic properties in brussels sprouts. Broccoli, in particular has high levels of a phytochemical called sulforaphane, a cancer-fighting plant compound linked to reducing the risks of prostate cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, and oral cancer.
In research linking water consumption with breast cancer, one study found that women with breast cancer consumed less water and total fluids compared with controls, which might suggest the vital role water plays in decreasing breast cancer risk. Drinking water has already been shown to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, and it’s easy, harmless, and beneficial for so many other health reasons.
The food pyramid of days gone by is no longer relevant. Now when we think about harnessing the power of good, natural food to supercharge our health and help protect against things like breast cancer and other illnesses, we would do well to consider some of these ‘super foods’ lurking in our gardens and groceries.
Just a little investigation can clue us into the remarkable benefits of other good-for-you foods that may not be sexy or promoted by celebrities but are indeed delicious and influential protectors of health.
Today, more women than ever before are surviving breast cancer thanks in part to advances in early detection. Higher survival rates have led to increased research into how diet plays a role in both prevention and survival.
Think of this list as a starting point, and know that there are so many more great, natural, affordable foods out there that help do the hard work of keeping our bodies cancer-free.
Good food can be good medicine, too.
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