Breast cancer has quickly become one of today’s most widespread and serious health issues. While your genetic heritage, age, and gender play an important role in your chances of developing a form of breast cancer, it is also true that lifestyle habits – nutrition, in particular – are a key factor in the prophylaxis of this potentially deadly affliction. But what are the best foods for breast cancer prevention then? Here are some examples of what you can munch on in order to take better care for your bust’s wellbeing:
- Apples – it goes without saying that this fruit is already renowned for its contribution to health and wellness – after all, ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’. The same can be said about breast cancer too, since frequent apple consumption has been correlated with cancerous cell suppression and generally improved immunity responses. The anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and regenerating properties of apples are mainly owed to the fruit’s peel, which contains phytochemicals (the vegetal chemicals which act as the plant’s metabolic system). The active components hence aid in the prevention of breast cancer by behaving as an additional shielding system for your organism – and all of this from just one healthy and delicious snack!
- Garlic – what makes garlic a highly effective food in the prevention of breast cancer is a substance called allicin, which can also be found in other vegetables like onions, chives, and shallots. Allicin is a sulphur compound which gives these veggies their pungent smell, with garlic being the most distinctive in its content of all. More recently, the allicin present in garlic has been linked to a series of benefits regarding breast cancer as a result of this compound’s ability to inhibit carcinogenic cells from multiplying and growing, as well as boosting the organism’s own detoxifying capacities in the face of such health threats.
- Fish – unlike processed and unhealthy fats, the omega-3 fatty acids present in fish can work wonders for your wellness when consumed regularly. Research has revealed that omega-3 fatty acids inhibit the formation of tumour cells in the mammary region and also prevent their future reoccurrence. In addition, introducing fish into (at least) one of your daily meals implies an extra boost of nutrients such as lean protein, which will keep you satiated and full of energy. The best fish choices for breast cancer prevention are considered to be salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sea bass.
- Turmeric – aside from being a very flavourful and aromatic spice, turmeric contains a bright yellow chemical called curcumin, which is responsible both for its distinct appearance and a series of health benefits as well. Curcumin has been linked to the management and treatment of breast cancer due to its strong antioxidant and antitumor benefits. This implies that turmeric consumption can prevent the onset of cancerous cells by providing your organism with enhanced anti-inflammatory and regenerative properties, as well as having no toxic side-effects. Curcumin can also be found in garlic, onions, broccoli, and dietary supplements.
- Broccoli – is part of the cruciferous family of vegetables, alongside Brussel sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower. The anti-cancer benefits of broccoli reside in its sulforaphane content, which inhibits the formation of cancer cells in the breasts and therefore suppresses the development of tumours in the same area of the body. Recent studies suggest that this vegetable seems to be particularly helpful in combating breast cancer for premenopausal women. Broccoli is also highly nutritious, full of antioxidants, and waist-friendly (just 34 calories per 100g), so be sure to include it into your daily meals for maximum health perks.
- Leafy greens – this category includes everything from spinach and kale to salads and collards, their main denominator being that they constitute a powerhouse of nutrients and cancer prevention. Consuming raw or only slightly processed leafy greens preserves their natural doses of B-complex vitamins, fibers, phytochemicals, minerals, and other nutritious substances which your organism requires in order to combat the development of (breast) cancer cells. ‘Going green’ with your regular diet can help you better modulate estrogen activity and hence decrease the occurrence of cancerous breast cells or tumours.
- Flaxseeds – they are obtained from the linseed or flax plant for both their industrial advantages (for example, textile products) and health benefits. Flaxseeds are a great addition to any wellness-oriented lifestyle because they are an important source of multiple nutrients like fiber (aids digestion), omega-3 fatty acids (or ‘good’ fats, 1.8g per tablespoon), and lignans (which act as antioxidants and vegetal estrogen). In the case of breast cancer prevention, flaxseeds contribute by suppressing and reducing the growth of cancerous tumours, as well as minimizing their expression on an epidermal level. The easiest way to introduce flaxseeds into your day-to-day regime is by using them as a delicious addition to salads (raw flaxseeds or flaxseed oil) and baked goods (using flaxseed flour).
- Berries – not only are berries delicious and versatile ingredients, but they have also proven themselves to be a valuable alternative in the fight against cancer in more recent times. Fruit like strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries contain powerful amounts of antioxidants, which then inhibit the proliferation of cancer-derived cells. Moreover, the anti-carcinogenic properties of various berries can also be found in their capacity to reduce mutagenic transformation of said cells and boost metabolic processes to avoid the formation of these ‘rogue’ tissues. Make sure you consume lots of berries in fruit salads, healthy muffins or smoothies for a ‘natural’ breast cancer screening.
- Pomegranates – the prevention of estrogen-based cancers (such as breast cancer) can benefit substantially from regular consumption of pomegranate seeds. The polyphenols present in this delicious and filling fruit have been shown to promote strong anti-inflammatory and anti-tumour effects on breast tissue, as well as boost healing time in the case of various lesions. Pomegranate can be hence eaten raw (as a snack, juice or in salads, for instance), which preserves its antioxidant properties, or as various supplements and oils, which take the aforementioned health advantages of this fruit and offer them to you in a much more concentrated format.
- Nuts – did you know you can eat nuts as a wholesome, satiating snack and protect yourself from breast cancer at the same time? It turns out that nuts of all kinds – from walnuts and peanuts to Macadamia and Brazil nuts – contain phytochemicals, antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and numerous other nutrients (selenium, fiber, etc.) that actively combat inflammation and tumour development within the breast region. Consequently, eating nuts on a regular basis can have a prophylactic effect on your health by inhibiting the formation and proliferation of cancerous cells.
- Soybeans – although infamous for their allergenic impact, soybeans exhibits numerous health benefits – breast cancer prevention included. Soybeans are considered to be an excellent source of fiber, isoflavones, and other nutrients which contribute to your overall health. One such isoflavone found in soybeans – genistein – has been associated with breast cancer prevention through its capacity to act as an estrogen receptor and to eliminate rogue cancer cell development. From soymilk and tofu to soy sauce and soybean pastes of all kinds, this food can be easily incorporated into any wholesome, appetizing, and cancer-free diet.
- Green tea – this natural drink is renowned for its health-boosting properties all around the world, with breast cancer prevention being no exception. The way green tea acts against the formation and proliferation of breast cancer cells is through its content of polyphenols and catechins, compounds that positively modulate cell development by suppressing the emergence of tumours in the breast region. Since these effects are dose-dependent, it is generally recommended to include green tea consumption into your daily dietary habits for maximum health effects in the long term.
- Olive oil – the wholesome properties of olive oil are no secret matter, this ingredient having been used for centuries in numerous traditional cuisines and healing endeavours alike. Current studies have focused mainly on the oxidant-reducing benefits of olive oil consumption and discovered that the antioxidants present in it can indeed inhibit the carcinogenic evolution of breast cells. Olive oil also contains a good type of fat, namely oleic acid (a monounsaturated fatty acid), which suppresses cancerous breast cell development on a molecular level.
- Coffee – while drinking caffeine in excess can be damaging to your general health, one cup a day can actually be beneficial for you. Coffee contains a series of antioxidants that delay cell degradation and promote cellular regeneration, which could then prove vital in the prevention efforts against breast cancer. Additionally, the polyphenols present in coffee act as phytoestrogens (namely the vegetal equivalent of hormones such as estrogen), resulting in better hormonal balance over time, something that should also have a positive influence on potentially cancerous tissues.
- Peaches – along with plums, peaches have long been considered a type of ‘superfood’ owing to their strong nutritional properties. This richly aromatic and tasty fruit has been shown to contain polyphenols which exhibit chemo-preventive benefits by eliminating estrogen-independent cancerous cells, inhibiting their proliferation to other layers of the breast tissue (the epidermal layer, for instance), and displaying a very low toxicity to healthy human cells. Peaches can be very easily integrated into your daily eating habits as snacks or parts of more complex dishes (fruit salads, low-fat cakes and muffins, etc.), with the same delicious and wholesome effect.
Conversely, there are certain dietary habits you should be avoiding so as to maximize your changes of staying healthy and cancer-free:
- Red meat – if you want to keep your breast wellness in check, then you might want to avoid consuming red meats all that often. Thermally processed pork and beef, for instance, have been linked to an increase in breast cancer frequency due to their negative influence on estrogen-dependant carcinogenic types of cells. Not to mention the fact that these meats are often ‘accompanied’ by high levels of preservatives, salts, and fats (as is the case of deli meats). Consequently, it is recommended that you replace the red meat in your diet with leaner and healthier options like chicken breast and fish.
- Sugar – research has recently concluded that overexposure to an eating regime containing elevated amounts of refined sugars can mark a rise in the incidence of breast cancer development for women. Sugary diets therefore enable a more frequent occurrence of breast carcinomas, which is why they should be replaced with natural sugars such as those derived from fruit, honey, stevia, molasses, maple syrup, etc. Cutting down on sugar in general can benefit your overall health by making you more energetic and focused throughout the day, as well as less prone to developing carcinogenic formations in the future.
- Alcohol – even though entertaining and pleasant at first glance (and sip), alcohol can do a whole lot of damage to your body if consumed too frequently. Studies centred on alcohol intake and breast cancer have discovered that drinking too much and too often damages your healthy cells and promotes a much faster proliferation of the ‘sick’ ones. Additionally, alcohol also increases estrogen levels, which subsequently enable the development of carcinogen tissue and tumour at a faster pace than normal in such circumstances.
- Fat – a diet based on fatty foods will not only clog up your arteries and increase your chances of getting diabetes and/ or hypertension, but it can equally affect your breast health. Specialists have concluded that, unlike natural and healthy fats (found in foods like avocado, olive oil, and fish), monosaturated fats present a high potential of enabling the apparition of cancerous tumours in the breast region. This means that, in order to maximize your protection against breast cancer, you should avoid processed foods (pastries, fast food, sweets, etc.) and rely mostly on fruit and vegetables for your daily dose of ‘good’ fats.
Although breast cancer is not something you want to take lightly, leading a healthy and balanced lifestyle can give you a significant advantage in the prevention and management of this threatening, yet conquerable disease. Being more mindful of what you put into your body can then help you become healthier and happier in the long run!