20 Best Breast Cancer Fighting Foods
What are the best foods you can eat if you want to take a preventive approach to fighting breast cancer? There are plenty of super-foods with breast cancer fighting properties – here's our pick of the top 20.
Raspberries are bursting with flavor and nutrients, yet they are very low in calories. Clinical studies suggest that daily consumption of red raspberries can help prevent breast cancer, most probably due to their high concentration of ellagic acid. While ellagic acid is found in a number of foods, red raspberries are by far the best natural source of this miraculous substance (1,500 mcg per gram of dry weight fruit extract). Ellagic acid is a proven anti-carcinogen, anti-mutagen, and an inhibitor of breast cancer. In laboratory studies, ellagic acid has been shown to reduce the effect of estrogen in promoting growth of breast cancer cells in tissue cultures. In some cases, it has also been able to cause apoptosis (cell death) in cancer cells. The ellagic acid found in red raspberries retains its potency through heating and freezing. So, regardless of whether you eat your raspberries fresh, frozen or heated, you will reap their breast cancer fighting benefits.
#2: Green Tea
Green tea is famous for its weight loss promoting properties, but the health benefits of green tea are more varied than that. Evidence suggests that green tea may also help prevent many types of cancer, including breast cancer. Catechins, the same compounds that are responsible for green tea's weight loss promoting properties, have been shown to be highly effective at protecting cells against DNA damage caused by free radicals. But the beneficial effects of green tea do not end there. Green tea has also been shown to suppress urokinase, a type of enzyme that is typically overactive in breast cancer patients. Urokinase is likely to play a key role in cancer cell metastasis (spreading). When buying green tea, choose loose tea leaves instead of tea bags as the release of catechins is better from loose leaves. You may also want to add a bit of lemon juice or other vitamin C rich juice to your tea — research suggests that vitamin C can increase the amount of catechins available for the body to absorb.
Asparagus is one of the best dietary sources of glutathione, a 'master antioxidant' that has gained the spotlight in recent years. Glutathione appears to have widespread functions, many of which may contribute to a reduced risk of breast cancer. For instance, glutathione has been shown to be highly effective at protecting cells against free radical damage; detoxifying foreign substances including carcinogens, and boosting the immune system by influencing lymphocytes. Furthermore, asparagus is a fairly good source of beta-carotene and vitamin C. As an additional bonus, this exceptional plant is typically low in pesticides, even the non-organically grown produce.
Turmeric, which lends its yellow hue to curries and many other foods, has long been used in traditional Asian medicine to prevent and treat a wide range of diseases. In recent years, also western medicine has started to pay greater attention to this extraordinary root plant of the ginger family. Turmeric has been shown to possess a variety of anti-cancer properties which may make it effective against many types of cancer, including breast cancer. It contains a compound that can identify potential cancer cells and induce self-destruction of such harmful cells (process known as "apoptosis"). Furthermore, turmeric contains powerful antioxidant compounds. It may also be able to prevent nitrosamine formation and inhibit aflatoxin production — two processes that have been associated with an increased risk of cancer.
The health benefits of broccoli are wide-ranging, but this super-food is a particularly good addition to your diet if you want to reduce your risk of breast cancer. Broccoli contains some extraordinary compounds that have been shown to eliminate carcinogenic toxins, reduce DNA mutation, induce apoptosis in breast cancer cells, help prevent the development of benign tumors into malignant tumors, and help prevent the spread of breast cancer to other organs. Further, there is evidence that broccoli may be able to prevent estrogen from stimulating the growth of breast cancer cells. Broccoli sprouts, available at many health food stores, are a particularly rich source of cancer-fighting compounds, but also broccoli florets provide substantial amounts. To maximize the benefits of broccoli, eat it raw or slightly steamed. Consumption of raw, crushed broccoli has been shown to result in faster and better absorption of the cancer-fighting compounds in broccoli. According to one study, cooking may destroy as much as 90% of sulforaphane — the key anti-cancer substance in broccoli.
Although it is used much in the same way as salad greens, arugula is actually classified as a cruciferous vegetable along with the famous nutritional superstars broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. Like other cruciferous vegetables, this little vegetable with a nutty, peppery flavor is loaded with health promoting phytochemicals and vitamins and thus makes a great substitute for lettuce. Arugula provides a great source of glucosinolates which turn into isothiocyanates when the plant is chewed. Isothiocyanates have been shown to neutralize carcinogic substances and to inhibit cancer cell proliferation. The high concentration of chlorophyll, a plant pigment with proven anti-cancer properties, may also contribute to the potential breast cancer fighting activities of arugula. What's more, arugula contains large amounts of vitamin C and beta-carotene (about five times the amount found in iceberg lettuce).
If you look at the Nutrition Facts label on a bag of walnuts, you'll learn that they are high in fat and calories. But that should not be a reason to shy away from these delicious nuts that are widely used in sweet and savory dishes alike. Consuming walnuts in moderation can confer great health benefits and possibly reduce the risk of breast cancer. Walnuts are rich omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and phytosterols — all of which are believed to reduce the risk of breast cancer. Adding chopped walnuts to your muesli or your favorite salad is a great way to include these nutrition bombs in your anti-breast-cancer diet. Walnuts can also be eaten on their own as a snack.
Horseradish can add zing to vegetable dishes, scrambled eggs, and salads and but its benefits are not purely culinary. Horseradish is rich in glucosinolates, natural compounds that have been shown to boost the liver's ability to detoxify carcinogens that could cause breast cancer. In addition, research suggests that glucosinolates may also be able to suppress the growth of cancerous tumors. While many cruciferous vegetables — including broccoli and Brussels sprouts — deliver glucosinolates, glucosinolates are present in a much higher concentration in horseradish (according to research, horseradish has up to 10 times more glucosinolates than broccoli).
Turbo-charge your diet by adding flaxseeds to your breakfast cereal or yoghurt. These little nutty-tasting seeds are a rich source of healthful dietary fiber which has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer. Moreover, flaxseeds contain phytochemicals that appear to reduce the risk of breast cancer in a number of ways, most notably due to their ability to inhibit the action of excess estrogen in the body. High amounts of the female hormone estrogen in the body have been associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. Furthermore, inclusion of flaxseeds in the diet can lead to a prolonged menstrual cycle in women, which is also associated with a lower risk of breast cancer. This is because a longer menstrual cycle means less frequent exposure to estradiol, the most aggressive form of estrogen. To reap most of flaxseeds' health benefits, grind them before adding them to your food (electric coffee grinders are great for this grinding flaxseeds).
According to research, a regular consumption of cabbage and sauerkraut may protect women from breast cancer. This protective effect is believed to be linked to the breakdown products of glucosinolates in cabbage. It seems that these products are able to limit the amount of DNA damage and cell mutation as well as to inhibit the processes that prevent programmed cell death and promote uncontrolled cell growth. In order to benefit from its breast cancer fighting properties, eat your cabbage raw or short-cooked; cabbage that has been cooked a long time does not appear to have a significant protective effect against breast cancer.
The health benefits of kale are wide and varied, but when it comes to foods that pack an anti-cancer punch, it is almost impossible to beat kale. Kale is packed with cancer fighting nutrients such as beta-carotene (kale contains ten times the beta-carotene of broccoli, which is known for being rich in beta-carotene). Research shows that premenopausal women who consume at least 2 servings of beta-carotene rich foods, such as carrots and kale, per day have 17% lower risk of developing breast cancer. As a result of kale's high content of beta-carotene, as well as a number of other anti-oxidant vitamins and phytonutrients, this green leafy vegetable is at the top of the list of vegetables with the highest ORAC rating. ORAC, or Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, is a measure of the total antioxidant power of foods.
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