In observance of Breast Cancer Awareness month, we’ve compiled a list of eleven foods that have cancer-preventing qualities and should be incorporated into your diet.
1. Flax Seeds—Flax seeds contain lignans, which help protect the body from toxic compounds in plastics, hormones in meat and dairy and pesticides that can increase the risk of breast and other hormone-related cancers. Sprinkling flax seeds on your cereal, yogurt or morning smoothie is an easy way to incorporate this cancer-preventing food into your daily diet.
2. Cauliflower and Broccoli — Cauliflower and broccoli contain di-indolylmethane, or DIM, which like lignans, shields against breast and hormone-related cancers.
3. Blueberries — In addition to vitamins B-6, B-12 and C, folic acid and potassium, blueberries are loaded with antioxidants that have powerful anti-inflammatory actions to reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s.
4. Green Tea — Like blueberries, green tea contains high levels of antioxidants that help kill existing cancer cells and shield against skin and breast cancers.
5. Kale — Kale and other leafy greens contain high concentrations of folic acid, a vitamin that fights against cervical cancer. Like cauliflower and broccoli, it also contains DIM so it buffers against breast cancer as well. Bake kale to make a healthy, delicious snack alternative to potato chips!
6. Olives — Olives are full of monounsaturated fats, which lower “bad” cholesterol and help prevent inflammation. Olives and olive oil also contain antioxidants, which promote heart health and have anti-inflammatory effects.
7. Spinach — Spinach is a great source of leutin, a carotenoid that protects the eyes from macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in seniors. Also rich in vitamin K, spinach promotes healthy bones and arteries.
8. Turmeric — Turmeric slows and may guard against the development of rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, curcumin, the active component in turmeric, bolsters the immune system.
9. Wild Alaskan Salmon — Rich in omega-3 fatty acid, Wild Alaskan salmon helps regulate mood, a benefit to think about especially during menopause.
10. Beans — Beans are loaded with soluble fiber, which helps reduce cholesterol, promotes heart health and may reduce the risk of colon cancer. Try incorporating beans as a substitute for red meat—they contain high levels of protein and are not associated with deleterious health effects. In contrast, a high intake of red meat could potentially increase the risk of colon cancer for women.
11. Tomatoes — Tomatoes are packed with lycopene, an antioxidant that reduces the risk of heart attack, breast cancer and cervical cancer. Some studies suggest cooking tomatoes makes it easier for the body to absorb the lycopene, so add tomatoes to your pasta sauce or soup to ensure you receive all of the benefits the fruit has to offer.
While consuming a healthy diet on a regular basis can help to prevent certain cancers, it’s also important to incorporate moderate exercise into your daily regimen; consult your doctor or a nutritionist to develop a comprehensive health plan.