11 Foods Every Breast Cancer Patient Should (and Shouldn't) Eat

Learn how food and nutrition can impact a breast cancer patient
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Helpful Nutritional Information for Breast Cancer Patients

Helpful Nutritional Information for Breast Cancer Patients

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“A nutritious diet will fuel the immune system by providing important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that nourish healthy cells,” say nutritionists Jane Schwartz, RD, and Stephanie Goodman, CNC. “A nourishing diet also provides lots of fiber, which feeds the beneficial bacteria that are critical for immune health.”

Cancer-fighting foods, like leafy greens, berries, and mushrooms, can also help you manage your weight. That keeps your body healthy in many ways, including reducing excess body around the waist, which can trigger cancer cell growth due to increased insulin production.

 

Mushrooms

Mushrooms

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This fungus is very good for you! Eat mushrooms including shiitake, maitake, and reishi, which can support a healthy immune system and help your body during chemotherapy. 

Go Green

Go Green

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Every day, fill up on green veggies like broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, and collard greens. The reason? Cruciferous vegetables, which can be eaten raw or cooked, contain indole-3 carbinol, “a phytochemical that that has been found to deactivate an estrogen metabolite that promotes tumor growth, particularly in breast cells,” say Schwartz and Goodman,” who note, “It’s also been found to keep cancer cells from spreading to other parts of the body.”

Rainbow

Rainbow

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Nutritionists often suggest that people “eat the rainbow.” That’s also a great idea when it comes to breast cancer-fighting foods. In addition to leafy greens and mushrooms, load up on colorful fruits and veggies, including red and green cabbage, yams, carrots, tomatoes, orange sweet potatoes, colored peppers, berries, melons, and citrus. Eat a colorful mix of produce every day. “Green smoothies, salads, cooked vegetables, soups, and stews are ideal for protecting your body,” says Hever.

Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut

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Depending on your tastes, sauerkraut, kefir, and miso may or may not be tasty, but these fermented and cultured foods help your body fight cancer. That’s because they “feed good bacteria in the gut, which enhances [i.e. strengthens] immune system,” say Schwartz and Goodman.

Blueberries and Pomegranates

Blueberries and Pomegranates

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These colorful fruits taste great and have the phytochemical ellagic acid, which “interferes with the metabolic pathways that feed certain cancers,” say Schwartz and Goodman.

Seeds

Seeds

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Snacking on seeds could help ward off breast cancer. Flax seeds and pumpkin seeds, for example, contain lignans, which hinder estrogen production and could possibly stop the spread of breast cancer.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D

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Make sure you’re getting vitamin D, which “encourages healthy breast cell growth while making cells more resistant to toxins,” say Schwartz and Goodman, explaining that vitamin D also may stop of the growth of cancer cells and thwart the activity of hormones like estrogen in breast cancer, which could help prevent the cancer’s spread. Common foods rich in vitamin D include salmon, mushrooms, and of course fortified milk.

Some Fats

Some Fats

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A big misconception is that breast cancer patients need to avoid all fats. But modest amounts of healthy fat, like that found in walnuts, olive oil, and avocados, are okay, say Schwartz and Goodman. They explain that healthy fats are beneficial for absorption of fat soluble vitamins like vitamins D, A, E, and K, as well as for maintaining the “integrity of cell membranes, source of essential omega fats, and feelings of satiety.”

Tea

Tea

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Drinking tea, such as green tea, may have cancer-fighting benefits too. A study looking at tea consumption and risk of breast cancer found “a potential beneficial influence for breast cancer associated with moderate levels of tea consumption (three or more cups per day) among younger women.”

Soy

Soy

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 “One of the most pervasive myths is that soy products promote breast cancer, whereas the opposite has been found in the research,” says Hever, noting that the American Institute of Cancer Research recommends eating a couple of servings of whole soy products a day to reduce the likelihood of breast cancer recurrence.