“The food you eat can be either the safest and the most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.” – Ann Wigmore
This quote stands especially true in today’s scenario, where food safety is a critical issue. We live in an instant world where everything is accessible in a matter of minutes. Right from the 2-minute noodle pack to the readymade pre-cooked meal packets, we have a variety of quick-fix food products to savor our taste buds. Healthy eating has taken a backseat because of our stressful and fast-paced lifestyles.
In this article, we will discuss
- The top 15 foods to prevent breast cancer.
- The foods you need to avoid.
- Importance of healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle.
You are what you eat. The way to a healthy lifestyle starts in your kitchen. Being healthy is not only about having a good body with beautiful skin and hair. Being Healthy is all about being disease free throughout your life. One should pay attention to what and how we cook and eat.
A well-balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in added sugar and trans-fats can improve your health and reduce the risk of breast cancer.
Table of contents:
As per the report from National Cancer Registry Programme India- ”The projected number of cases for breast cancer in India in the year 2020 is 179,790 and this will make up about 10% of all cancers.”
Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in Indian women. About 1 in 22 women develop breast cancer in their lifetime. There is a steady rise in the number of recent cases of breast cancer.
What is breast cancer?
Breast cancer is a cancer in which the cells in your breast grow and divide in an uncontrolled way, creating a mass of tissue called a tumor.
Symptoms of breast cancer may include:
- Lump/s in the breast or armpit, usually painless.
- Tenderness of breast.
- Discharge of fluid from the nipples.
- Change in nipple or breast skin’s texture.
- Change in breast or nipple appearance.
Some known risk factors for breast cancer are:
- Excessive usage of alcohol
- Menstrual history
- High breast density
- Genetics and family history
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Birth control pills
- Post-menopausal hormone therapy (PHT)
Prevention is the need of the hour. Keeping a healthy lifestyle with a good diet is important to help prevent chronic diseases, including breast cancer.
15 Foods to Prevent Breast Cancer
The following foods help to prevent breast cancer. Most of them are easily accessible and you can find them in your kitchen and pantries. ‘Eating right not less’ is the most important tip in any diet-regimen.
Fruits and vegetables are the best foods to prevent breast cancer. They contain phytochemicals. These phytochemicals have antioxidant and cancer-preventive properties. You should eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Include a lot of colored and nutrient-dense vegetables in your daily meal plan. Drink lots of water (aim to drink at least 2-4 glasses of water per day). Hydration helps to flush out the toxins in your body.
The foods mentioned below are well-known and researched in preventing cancer, including breast cancer-related ailments. We have a list of 15 foods to prevent breast cancer. Add them as a part of your daily diet schedule to prevent breast cancer.
- Berries contain antioxidants like anthocyanins and flavonoids.
- These protect the body cells from getting damaged and also prevent the development of cancer cells.
- Higher intake of blueberries, in particular, lowered the risk of estrogen receptor-negative (ER−) breast cancer (Source: Pubmed: National Institute of Health).
- Allium vegetables include garlic, spring onions, and onions.
- These are super-healthy because of the organosulfur compounds, flavonoids antioxidants, and Vitamin C in them.
- You can consume garlic as a seasoning in dal or curries.
- Eat raw onion in your salads.
#3 Leafy green vegetables
- Add a lot of leafy green vegetables to your diet. Cook greens like spinach, mustard-green, methi, and moringa leaf as curries or use them in dal.
- These vegetables contain antioxidants. Antioxidants help to remove toxins from the blood.
- Leafy green vegetables also have folate, a B vitamin, known as an anti-cancer nutrient.
#4 Cruciferous vegetables
- Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage are known as ‘Phytochemical Powerhouses’
- The nutrients in these vegetables have anti-cancer properties
- The high fiber content, vitamins, and minerals in beans help to reduce the risk
#6 Citrus fruits
- Vitamin C, folate, carotenoids, and antioxidants make citrus fruits an ideal food against breast cancer
- Apart from the anti-cancer property, citrus fruits have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits
- Include citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits in your mid-meal snack
#7 Apples, peaches, and pears
- An apple a day keeps cancer away. The polyphenol antioxidants in apples, peaches, and pear inhibit the growth and spread of breast cancer cells.
#8 Fermented foods
- Yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir grains, and kimchi are natural probiotics that are also helpful in building the body’s immunity.
- In many research studies, scientists have concluded that daily usage of fermented foods reduces the risk of breast cancer.
#9 Fatty fish
- Fatty fish for example salmon, sardines, etc. have omega-3 fats, selenium, and antioxidants.
- Eating fatty fish may significantly reduce the risk of breast cancer.
- Eating more fatty fish and avoiding processed foods will balance your omega-3 to omega-6 which helps in reducing inflammation and lowering the risk of chronic diseases.
#10 Spices and herbs
- The spice rack in your kitchen has many ingredients that contain plant compounds like fatty acids, vitamins, and polyphenol antioxidants
- The key ingredient in every Indian curry, Haldi or Turmeric, contains curcumin widely known for its anti-cancer properties
- Make a habit of drinking golden milk- (1 serving a day at bedtime). Golden (turmeric) milk has anti-inflammatory properties, known to reduce the risk of chronic diseases including breast cancer
- For 1 serving (one cup) of golden milk, add 1 tsp of turmeric to 1/2 cup (120ml) of warm milk. You can also add 1/2 tsp of jaggery or honey to it
- Oregano has significant anti-cancer properties to fight fast-growing breast cancer cell lines
- Spice up your food with beneficial herbs and spices like turmeric, ginger, oregano, thyme, parsley, and rosemary which also have antioxidant properties
- Tomato with its antioxidant property is a wonder food.
- Lycopene found in tomatoes has anti-cancer benefits.
- Walnuts contain phytosterols (cholesterol-like molecules found in plants) and are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids.
- As reported, walnuts help to block estrogen receptors in breast cancer cells, due to which cell-growth slows down. (Source: Flickr/Rainer Fritz).
#13 Olive oil
- Consumption of extra virgin olive oil has been linked to a lowered risk of breast cancer
- Add You can add olive oil to salads or stir-fries to reap its benefits. Olive oil is the best oil to
- Eating pomegranates or drinking pomegranate juice may help prevent and slow the growth of some types of breast cancer.
- Pomegranates are rich in phytochemical called ellagitannins, which have an antioxidant effect.
- Pumpkin contains Vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps to fight cancer.
- You must have heard about the campaign to plant pink pumpkins during breast cancer awareness month. This reiterates the benefits of pumpkin.
Foods to avoid
Just as you should increase the intake of certain foods to prevent breast cancer, there are some foods you need to avoid to minimize its risk:
- Red meat and Processed meat- Red meat and processed meat like sausage and bacon are risky foods.
- Alcohol- Many studies have found a direct correlation between alcohol and breast cancer.
- Processed food- Processed foods carry a risk of obesity, heart disease, and breast cancer.
- Fried foods- Avoid fried foods which also increases your risk of weight gain.
- Added sugars- Though a teaspoon of sugar in your coffee is fine, but avoid overconsumption of sugary foods. Excess energy intake, particularly from processed sugars that contain no significant nutritional value, can cause weight gain and can lead to obesity. Obesity increases the likelihood of developing breast cancer.
- Refined foods – Refined food products like white bread, processed foods with white flour give empty calories and rob the body of many nutrients. To lower your risk of breast cancer, steer clear of refined carbs and processed foods.
There is a very famous quote: “Eat your food like your medicines or else you will eat your medicines like food.”
A healthy diet lowers the risk of obesity, which is a risk factor for breast and other cancers. While improving your diet can improve your overall health and reduce your cancer risk, there are other risk factors too for breast cancer development. An active lifestyle with an exercise regime or at least a 30 min brisk walk should be a part of your daily schedule.
Those at higher risk should go for regular breast cancer screenings like mammograms and do manual breast self-examination every month. Early detection and diagnosis will improve prognosis and increase the survival rate.
5 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
A. The top 5 food products which cause cancer are red meat, processed meat, sugary drinks, alcoholic beverages, and processed foods.
A. A healthy lifestyle along with a healthy diet can help prevent breast cancer. Include a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet. Avoid alcohol, sugary foods, processed and fried foods. Consume minimally processed foods & whole foods to prevent breast cancer naturally.
A. Vegetables, fruits, and nuts like berries, tomatoes, broccoli, walnuts, sesame seeds, grapes, etc.
A. Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Studies have shown that a plant-diet lowers the risk of cancer. The non-negotiable 5 vegetables are broccoli, tomatoes, carrots, spinach, and garlic. Whole grains along with these fruits and vegetables are the best foods to prevent breast cancer.
A. Organic foods are less exposed to pesticides and hormones, have more vitamins and nutrients than conventional foods, and produced in an environmentally friendly way. However, they are expensive and not workable for everyone. Research has shown that eating a plant-based diet is important in fighting cancer, whether organic or conventional.