We tend to categorize foods as “good” or “bad” and determine to eat more “good” foods and less “bad” foods. But do you ever feel more tempted by the “bad” stuff when you’re trying to only eat “good” things? You know that a diet consisting of fatty, fried foods is not good for you but it’s just too hard to resist a juicy burger and French fries. And while you agree that fresh fruits are delicious, so is a warm apple cobbler with a scoop of ice cream. (Does that count as eating fruit?) It may be easier for you to adjust your diet if your motivation is less about deprivation. Rather than focusing on what you’re missing, consider what you’re gaining. When you consume a healthful diet, you may be helping your body protect itself from breast cancer.
Fruits and Vegetables
Mom was right—we need to eat our fruits and veggies. Many of the fruits and veggies that make the “good” list on every diet plan, including the ones mom made you at least try, are filled with flavonoids and carotenoids that have so many health benefits. Fruits such as strawberries, peaches, apples, pears, and oranges have proven to help lower your risk for cancer. Leafy green vegetables, broccoli, kale, onions, peppers, carrots, and tomatoes are vegetables you’ll want to eat on a regular basis. In fact, a study at the University of California in San Francisco studied over 91,000 women and found that the risk of developing breast cancer diminishes by 15% if you consume a plant-based diet.
Fiber and Fat
Fibers are key to cleaning out the digestive system and getting rid of waste. When you remove toxins from your body, you’re simultaneously placing a guard against cancer. Fibers can be found in legumes such as beans and lentils, and whole grains. They contain antioxidants that have many benefits. “Good fats” are polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats found in olive oil, avocado, and various seeds and nuts. Salmon and cod contain omega-3 fatty acids that have also been linked to lowering your risk for cancer. Many nutrition experts claim the average diet should contain 20-30% of good fats. However, it’s important to avoid heavily processed food that contains trans fats. Unfortunately, trans fats can be found in some of your favorite items like fried foods, donuts, and packaged cookies or pastries.
The “Bad” Stuff
We’re not saying you can never eat dessert ever again. However, when eaten in excess, there are several foods that are known to increase your risk of breast cancer. First on the list is alcohol. Alcohol may raise estrogens levels that cause mutations in DNA cells. Your risk for breast cancer increases by 15% if you consume three drinks a week. A study performed at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center found that a diet consisting largely of sugar caused tumors to grow in the mammary glands of mice. Limiting your intake of sugar may help not only the growth but also the spread of cancer cells. You should also eat red meat in moderation since it is known to raise a risk for breast cancer.
What Else Can I Do? It’s important to take care of yourself and limit your consumption of the “bad” foods that harm your body and increase your risk for cancer. It’s also vital to visit your doctor yearly and have a yearly mammogram. The Breast Center at The Woman’s Clinic offers the best patient experience and highest quality of care. Our 3D mammograms offer a more accurate view resulting in higher detection rates and fewer follow-up visits. If you have questions about your health and your risk for breast cancer, schedule an appointment at The Woman’s Clinic today.