11 Foods Every Breast Cancer Patient Should (and Shouldn't) Eat
October 29, 2015
Learn how food and nutrition can impact a breast cancer patient
Helpful Nutritional Information for Breast Cancer Patients
“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.
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.”
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.
Blueberries and Pomegranates
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.
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.
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.”
“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.