Breast cancer awareness month begs a guide to healthful eating
October’s color is pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I recently noticed a hot hunk with a pink beribboned tattoo bulging on his well-developed bicep in a show of solidarity with his mom who is presently battling breast cancer.
The membership roster for the Breast Cancer Club is filled with women of all colors, ages, religions, socio-economic groups and races (although Asians are sparsely represented), and some men who occasionally slip into the club.
Since you are what you eat, dedication to a healthful diet and a mindful lifestyle are critical in the arsenal against breast cancer. I would like to give you something special from my survivor’s bosom - woman to woman - a primer on breast cancer foods.
Heard it through the grapevineGrapes, especially the red, purple and black varieties, are loaded with antioxidants called biofavonoids that pack a powerful anti-cancer punch. Grape skin, a rich source of resveratrol, has been found to hamper enzymes that stimulate cancer cell growth. Drinking more than one glass of wine a day, on the other hand, has been linked to increasing breast cancer risk. So swap that chardonnay for some fresh concords.
Gas it upCruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, turnip greens, kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and the new super BroccoSprouts contain indole-3-carbinol, which has been found to morph the cancer-causing estrogen so the cancer cells will be faked out by this diluted form.
Bugs Bunny was no silly rabbitEating foods with high levels of beta-carotene has been found to lower incidence of breast cancer.
Baby carrots (not the bagged stumps) are best as they have the most absorbable form of beta-carotene.
The stinky roseGarlic has been found to ward off viruses, bacteria, inflammation, the occasional vampire and breast cancer cells. Raw garlic is loaded with allicin, a potent sulfur compound with immune boosting properties to fight cancer.
Fabulous fungiCertain varieties of mushrooms, particularly Shiitake, maitake and reishi, contain polysaccharides, which have been shown to boost the immune system to help the body fight cancer, along with lectin, a protein that appears to keep cancer cells in check.
Happy as a clamLoad up on omega-3 fatty acids found in oily, cold-water fish such as wild-caught salmon, anchovies and sardines. Seaweed and other oceanic veggies contain beta-carotene, vitamin B-12 and the fatty acid chlorophylone, another defensive weapon against breast cancer.
From flax to nutsIf you’re not a fish person, you can get your omega magic bullet from flaxseed, which has been touted as a great boon for healthy breasts, high in lignans and anti-inflammatory properties. Ditto for nuts and seeds rich in omega-3s such as almonds, walnuts and pumpkin seeds.
The fat of the landSteer clear of trans-fatty monsters and deep-fried foods. For cooking, and in dressings, pick olive oil. A recent study showed that Mediterranean women who consumed loads of this oil had one of the lowest breast cancer rates.
Somewhere over the rainbowEat the colors of the rainbow - red and yellow peppers, tomatoes, yams, squashes, spinach, blueberries, pomegranates and cherries. They contain powerful antioxidants to rid the body of toxins. Tomatoes (especially cooked) are also loaded with lycopene, a compound that attacks dangerous free radicals.
The D-listIronically, we’re been warned to stay out of the sun to avoid skin cancer, but we need at least 20 minutes a day of sunshine for a breast-healthy dose of vitamin D. As well, amp up your portions of foods with naturally occurring vitamin D such as organic eggs, mackerel and cod liver oil (if you can stomach it).
Green tea, the new chicken soupGreen and black teas contain antioxidants called polyphenols, which are thought to prevent cancer cells from dividing.
During the day, drink the more potent caffeinated tea. At bedtime, do decaf with a splash of almond milk for a soporific effect.
The soy ploySoy advocates claim that isoflavinoids contained in these foods work as an estrogen decoy to block the strong estrogens that stimulate cancer cells. Others contend that soy is a phyto or plant estrogen that provides food for cancer cells. In this complicated soy maze, follow standing advice: everything in moderation.
My final contribution is a cruciferous coleslaw you can eat with grilled wild-caught salmon while soaking up those vitamin D rays on your patio.
Brocslaw(Use organics where possible)
- 1 16-ounce bag shredded broccoli or two heads of fresh, chopped broccoli
- 1/2 small red pepper, diced
- 1/2 small yellow pepper, diced
- 1/2 small red onion, diced
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 2 carrots, grated
- 1/4 cup of slivered almonds
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- Pinch of wasabi powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
In a large bowl, combine the veggies. In a separate bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients. Toss with the slaw until evenly distributed. Top with almonds and more scallions.
Send comments and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out the Kitchen Shrink and company’s healthful eating blog at www.FreeRangeClub.com.