Good morning. In yesterday's post I cited a study linking an increase in BMI (body mass index) with an increased risk of breast cancer. As I mentioned, in addition to an overall eating plan that helps control weight and lower breast cancer risk, certain foods in particular have been shown to offer protection. Here are five, along with a suggestion for how to incorporate them into your diet:
In a Harvard study from the International Journal of Cancer 90,638 cancer free women between 26 and 46 years old were monitored for eight years. Women who ate beans or lentils two or more times per week had a 34% lower risk of breast cancer than women who ate them one or fewer times per month. Natural substances in beans appear to protect our cells from damage that can lead to cancer. One in particular called saponins has been shown to block the reproduction of cancer cells and slow the growth of tumors.
Eat: Aim for 3 cups of beans per week. If you buy canned beans opt for low sodium and rinse them in a colander to wash away 40% more sodium. Swap them for meat in a number of recipes.
Dish: Black bean tacos. Fill 2 soft whole corn tortillas each with a quarter cup black beans. Top each with 2 Tbsp pico de gallo and 1 Tbsp chopped fresh avocado. Garnish with fresh wedges of lime and serve with a garden salad.
In animal research from the University of Louisville School of Medicine in Kentucky, feeding rats 2.5 percent of their diets as blueberries or black raspberries resulted in less tumor growth and decreased the activation of two genes that "turn on" breast cancer. Berries are rich in a substance called ellagic acid that packs a 1-2-3 punch: it's an antioxidant, which means it acts like a body guard to ward off the free radicals that damage cells, leading to disease, it helps the body deactivate specific carcinogens, and slows the reproduction of cancer cells.
Eat: Berries are in season now so it's a great time to head to your local Farmer's Market and stock up. Freeze what you don't eat - they'll keep for about 6 months, or buy them frozen and looks for bags with no additives (the only ingredient should be berries).
Dish: Make a parfait with alternating layers of 1 cup fresh raspberries, 6 oz nonfat (0%) Greek yogurt or organic soy yogurt and a quarter cup sliced almonds.
Researchers from the University of California studied more than 1,550 women previously treated for breast cancer. After 5 years they found that women with the highest blood carotenoid concentration had a reduced risk for breast cancer recurrence by 40%. Carotenoid-rich foods include spinach, kale, broccoli, arugula, field greens and escarole. Carotenoids seem to prevent cancer by acting as antioxidants.
Eat: Aim for at least 2 cups a week, fresh or frozen.
Dish: Make an entrée salad: toss 2 cups of fresh field greens in 2 Tbsp of an extra virgin olive oil based vinaigrette (like light balsamic vinaigrette) and top with 3 oz cooked salmon or a half cup beans, and one half cup of a cooked, chilled whole grain such as quinoa.
In a Swiss study published in the International Journal of Cancer in more than 700 women researchers found that those consuming the most lycopene, primarily from tomato-based products, had a 36% reduced risk of developing breast cancer. Lycopene is a key antioxidant and there is mounting evidence that its cancer-fighting potential is increased if tomatoes are consumed in a processed form that allows it to be released and absorbed more easily, such as tomato sauce, tomato paste or tomato juice.
Eat: Use tomato paste as a base for vegetarian chili, toss steamed veggies in tomato sauce, salsa or sundried tomato tapenade.
Dish: As a snack or with a meal enjoy chilled mock cocktail made with 6 oz 100% low sodium tomato juice, juice from three wedges of fresh, a dash each of horseradish and cracked black pepper and a few celery stalks. Pour mixture over ice and serve.
The studies on how powerful green tea is at preventing breast cancer are mixed, but one study from the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa found that among women under the age of 50, those who consumed 3 or more cups of tea per day were 37% less likely to develop breast cancer compared to women who didn't drink tea. Green tea contains a number of antioxidants. In laboratory studies, green tea has been shown to slow or completely prevent cancer development in breast cells.
Eat: Enjoy freshly brewed hot or iced tea daily. If it tastes too grassy add a splash or 100% fruit juice.
Dish: Make a marinade for shrimp or organic tofu from one half cup strong green tea, 2 Tbsp rice vinegar, 1 tsp fresh grated ginger, 1 Tbsp chopped green onions, and one quarter teaspoon crushed red pepper.
Were you aware of the connection between weight gain and breast cancer? Please share your thoughts.
P.S. I took this photo of these organic tomatoes at my local Farmer's Market. Aren't they gorgeous?!