Eating for Breast Health

Healthy foods can not only help you lose and maintain weight, but reduce breast cancer risk.  Here are a few that “pack a punch” when it comes to protecting your breasts.

Beans  In a study of 90,000 women from the Harvard School of Public Health looking at the relationship between diet and cancer, it was found that those who ate 1-2 cups of beans or lentils each week were 24% less likely to develop breast cancer.  It is believed that the nutrients, flavonols, found in beans and lentils inhibit cancer cell formation by boosting the immune system.  Beans also have lignans (along with oats, barley & flaxseed).

Almonds, Avocados, Olive Oil     All provide omega-9 called oleic acid that helps kill cancer cells.  Early research also suggests that oleic acid may help decrease belly fat, which has the bonus of reducing insulin resistance (when the fuel does not have a transporter to get it into the cell) and heart disease. Triple bonus foods!

Green Tea, Wine (one glass daily), Grapes, Chocolate – yum!     All have antioxidant flavonoids that provide anti-inflammatory properties and protection from cancer-causing agents.  They repel free-radicals from invading cell walls and doing damage.  Research has shown that lower blood flavonoid levels increase breast cancer risk.  Try to get at least one flavonoid serving in each day – OK twist my arm, I’ll sacrifice eating an ounce of dark chocolate every day!

Dark Green Vegetables     Studies have strongly shown that eating cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, lower breast cancer incidence.  The chemicals in cruciferous foods are called glucosinolates.  When they are ingested, they convert to beneficial compounds – one being indole-3-carbinol (I3C) which are believed to inhibit many types of cancers, including breast and cervical.  So “go green” – dark, leafy, spinach, bok choy – with at least ½ cup a day.  They also give you wonderful Vitamin A, which boosts your immune system too!

Fatty Fish (salmon, tuna), Fortified Dairy, Eggs     All give you needed Vitamin D.  Recent studies are showing the strong link between Vitamin D levels and all cancers.  At both the University of California & Creighton in Omaha, it was found that women with the highest levels of Vitamin D have a 50% reduction in breast cancer from those with low levels.  The goal is to get blood Vitamin D above 50.  The past had recommended 400 iu of Vitamin D3/day and now women are taking 1000 – 5000 iu depending on levels.  So eat your fish, and get your level checked.  This sunshine vitamin will perk you right up and protect your breasts.