03 Oct Special of the day: Battling Breast Cancer One Bite at a Time
While there is no magic pill to prevent breast cancer, there is evidence that adopting healthy habits can work to ward off the growth of cancer cells in our bodies and is well-worth learning about.
According to the American Cancer Society, avoiding tobacco products, maintaining a healthy weight, staying active and eating nutritious foods can reduce a person’s lifetime risk of developing or dying from cancer.
An interest in presenting recommendations on foods to eat to fight cancer cells during Breast Cancer Awareness Month had me contacting my friend Kathleen Noonan Putnam, a registered dietician and lifestyle coach who grew up in Great Falls and now has NutritionWorks Consulting in Seattle.
For the last twenty years, Putnam has been working with people to improve their health, reduce stress and live the highest quality of life possible. She was quick to pull together a list of foods she’d recommend eating to prevent breast cancer with specifics on what they do in the body.
- Organic strawberries top the list due to the high vitamin C content which inhibits the growth of cancer cells in the body.
- Studies have shown that broccoli acts as a powerful anti-inflammatory and a detoxifier which makes it an amazing food in fighting not only breast cancer, but also prostate, colon, bladder and ovarian cancer.
- Cabbage contains compounds called glucosinolates that make isothiocyanates which protect the body from cancer in many ways. A study from Poland showed significant improvement in the risk reduction of breast cancer when women consumed large amounts of cabbage (which was at least 4 servings per week as compared to 1 serving per week).
- Kale contributes differing phytochemicals that have powerful benefits that protect the body from cancers like breast cancer. The two that have been successfully measured and followed in the blood stream are lutein and beta-carotene and are key in protecting the body from oxidative stress, a contributor to cancer proliferation. Recent research has also made it clear that at least 45 different antioxidant flavonoids are provided in measurable amounts by kale, making it a powerful protecting food.
Being careful to avoid foods that have been associated with breast cancer is another important topic to think about. Putnam said breast cancer has been linked to drinking even moderate amounts of alcohol, so limiting or avoiding alcohol is something to consider or look into get some support with.
Heavily processed meats and those that contain nitrates have also been linked to cancer. Putnam’s advice is to find a whole food substitute when possible.
Steering clear of products containing transfats and replacing them with monounsaturated fats will be most beneficial to the body in maximizing nutrition.
Adding weight at any time in life increases our risk for breast cancer, Putnam said, so working toward not consuming excess calories is a suggestion she would make.
While making wise food choices is essential, so too is making sure you are staying active. Physical activity- not exercise-but moving your body doing something you enjoy is just as important as the food you eat in protecting your body.
“Many cancer-related cookbooks can focus on what not to eat which can make it overwhelming and negative,” Putnam said. She’d encourage home cooks to look for cookbooks that include recipes that use plant foods that are delicious and have recipes we look forward to trying out and serving to one another.
Some favorite cookbooks on Putnam’s list are:
- The America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook: A New, Healthier Way to Cook Everything from America’s Most Trusted Test Kitchen by America’s Test Kitchen (October 1, 2010)
- How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food by Mark Bittman and Alan Witschonke
- The Farmstand Favorites Cookbook: Over 300 Recipes Celebrating Local, Farm-Fresh Food by Anna Krusinski, Catarina Astrom and Avis Richards (October 30, 2012)
- Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites: Flavorful Recipes for Healthful Meals by Moosewood Collective (October 29, 1996)
- Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison (November 6, 2007)
- Mr. Sunday’s Soups by Lorraine Wallace and Chris Wallace (December 21, 2010)
- The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten and Martha Stewart (April 6, 1999)
Articles on the Internet to check out:
Nutrition and Breast Cancer — Studies Show a Nutrient-Dense Diet Plus Daily Exercise Can Lower Risk of Recurrence(http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/080112p48.shtml)
New Study Affirms Role of Dietary Fiber in Lowering Risk of Breast Cancer (http://www.eattodefeat.org/evidence/406/new-study-affirms-role-of-dietary-fiber-in-lowering-risk-of-breast-cancer.html)
Chianti or chardonnay? It makes no difference when it comes to red versus white wine and breast-cancer risk, large study finds(http://www.fhcrc.org/en/news/releases/2009/03/wine.html)
Sending out best wishes for good health, I give you this week’s Special of the day: Battling Breast Cancer One Bite at a Time and recipes for Grilled Marinated Chicken and Strawberry Broccoli Slaw. Happy healthy cooking!
Recipes and food photography by Sydne George.
*Ingredients with cancer-fighting properties are in italics.
4 tbsp. real mayonnaise
3 tbsp. apple cider (cloudy)
¼ tsp. Kosher salt
3 cups organic broccoli crowns, trimmed and sliced into bite-sized pieces
10-ounce bag angel hair coleslaw (cabbage)
2 cups organic strawberries, cleaned and thinly sliced
In medium bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, apple cider and salt until smooth. Add broccoli and coleslaw and stir to combine. (May be made up to this point ahead and refrigerated.) Add strawberries just before serving. Enjoy!
Grilled Marinated Chicken
Make the marinade:
1 cup olive oil
1 ¼ cups balsamic vinegar
4 tsp. tarragon
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. turmeric
¼ tsp. Kosher salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper
In a medium bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients.
For the grilled chicken:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Transfer marinade to a large Ziploc bag. Add chicken breasts. Seal bag. Distribute marinade around chicken breasts and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat barbecue grill to 350 degrees. Remove chicken breasts from marinade and grill on preheated grill for 5-7 minutes on each side, turning to grill other side for 5-7 minutes, until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear. Remove chicken from grill and let rest for at least 5 minutes to allow juices to redistribute. Slice into thin slices.
Serve sliced marinated grilled chicken atop a bed of Strawberry Broccoli Slaw. Garnish with sliced strawberries. Enjoy!
Sydne George is a food journalist specializing in recipe development, food writing and food photography. She can be reached at email@example.com . Sydne’s recipes from “Special of the day” are archived at http://sydnegeorge.com/blog/.