We’re told there are foods that will boost our metabolism, increase energy, manage heart disease, make us more fertile, and prevent bone loss. And the list goes so much further on. There’s also a body of foods that will, according to research, help prevent or reduce a woman’s risk for breast cancer. Can a food really hone in on a particular body part or manage a niche set of symptoms or metabolic needs?
Not in the way we’d like to think they could. Overall, eating a wholesome diet rich in healthful foods will benefit every ounce of our being from the inside out. And Mary Hartley, RD, MPH, a private practice registered dietitian for more than 30 years, agrees that foods don’t necessarily benefit a single body part.
“What makes a food unique to an organ or disease is that some researcher studied that particular thing and published the results,” she explained. That being said, there are foods that have been linked with fighting breast cancer.
Whether you eat these foods in an effort to stave-off breast cancer and support general breast health, or just want one more good reason to add more of these colorful bites to your plate, here’s a plethora of fresh foods to enjoy.
Peaches & Plums — These “stone fruits” were found to have antioxidant levels on par with the super food blueberries. According to research out of Texas A&M, two types of polyphenols (antioxidants) may fight breast cancer cells while also leaving healthy breast cells intact. Hartley says this is true of “all dark purple fruits [that] provide potent antioxidant activity,” and that it’s true whether you eat them fresh, frozen, or dried.
Walnuts — The anti-inflammatory properties of this nut give it tumor-fighting capabilities. The available research was performed on mice with a human breast cancer, and those who ate two ounces of walnuts daily saw the tumor growth rate inhibited.
Broccoli — A compound within broccoli called sulforaphane stymies breast cancer cells, according to research from the University of Michigan. They admit you’d have to eat a significant amount of broccoli to ingest that level, so researchers suggest getting as much sulforaphane as possible by eating the broccoli raw, steamed, or lightly cooked in stir-fry. When it is boiled, or cooked in harsh conditions, it destroys the compound. Sulforaphane (related to sulfur giving veggies that funky smell) is in other cruciferous (stinky) vegetables like Brussels sprouts and cabbage.
Salmon —Long-term use of fish oil is linked to the most common type of breast cancer, explained Hartley. How to dodge it? With fish oil and vitamin D, “a rare nutrient that enters cancer cells and triggers cell death,” she said. “Salmon happens to be one of the few foods that is high in both vitamin D and fish oil, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a omega-3 fat.” To reap all of the vitamin D and fish oil goodness, women should eat about eight ounces of oily fish each week. That can come from salmon, sardines, tuna, or black cod.
Olive Oil — Get more healthy fats here, with the monounsaturated fats (aka MUFAs) found in olive oil and its antioxidants. That combo works to stop malignant cell growth.
Parsley — It’s no longer just a pretty garnish. This flavorful herb (buy Italian parsley!) has a compound called apigenin that boosts the body’s resistance to cancerous tumors. Sprinkle over just about any dish to add subtle, calorie-free flavor.
Beans & Lentils — Beans beans the magical fruit, the more you eat, the more you reduce your risk of breast cancer! It seems that getting all the fiber you need every day can help reduce your risk. Just a half-cup of beans offers 10 grams of fiber, making it easy to reach recommendations! A study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that for every 10 grams of fiber a woman adds to her diet each diet, she reduces her breast cancer risk by seven percent, explained Hartley.
Sweet Potatoes — Eat more colorfully in general, but especially from the center. Orange and yellow foods are full of carotenoids, which the Journal of National Cancer Institute says will lower the risk of developing breast cancer. So you’re not limited to just sweet potatoes, but carrots and squashes count, too.
Tea — The right brew for boobs is a fresh pot of tea, especially green tea. Polyphenols, the same antioxidant found in stone fruits, is an antioxidant that works hard to reduce urinary estrogen, a carcinogen that promotes breast cancer.
Pomegranates — This beautiful fruit inhibits the spread of hormone-dependent breast cancer by suppressing estrogen and preventing growth of cancer cells. It’s the ellagic acid found in pomegranates that’s key, which you’ll also enjoy in raspberries, strawberries, cranberries, walnuts, and pecans.
Mushrooms — A mushroom a day could keep the doctor away? Research finds that eating fresh mushrooms each day can protect against breast cancer. Women who ingested grams or more of the fungi each day were two-thirds less likely to develop breast cancer. When they had the ‘shrooms and green tea together, the risk was even lower!
Eggs — Gone are the days that eggs are getting a bad rap, especially the yolks. The nutrient choline, which is abundant in egg yolks, maybe have a role in preventing breast cancer, according to a report found in the journal Breast Cancer Research. The choline, coupled with an eggs other essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, make this a powerful ally, says Hartley.