October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month – a time to focus on improving your health, learn ways to reduce your risk of breast cancer, and also how the food you eat can help reduce your risk of breast cancer. After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States. The types of food that we ingest can attribute not only to the way our bodies feel, but also to how they fight disease. A healthy lifestyle and balanced food and drink choices can play crucial roles in breast cancer prevention.
“Food is medicine,” is not just a saying. Food is critical in keeping our bodies feeling well both before and during illness. Diet is thought to be partly responsible for about 30% to 40% of all cancers. While food can not fully prevent you from getting breast cancer, it can make your body the healthiest it can be, boost the immune system, and help keep your risk of breast and other cancers as low as possible. The nutrients you need from foods including fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains can keep you feeling happy and healthy.
You’ve likely heard that the key to reducing inflammation is plant-forward foods. That’s because plant-based foods are rich in fiber, antioxidants, and phytochemicals and have been shown to decrease cancer risk. Choose whole grains, legumes, and 6-9 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
If 6-9 servings of fruits and vegetables sound challenging, remember that only ½ cup of fresh or frozen fruit counts as a serving. When it comes to raw, leafy vegetables, however, it does take 1 full cup to count as a serving.
Other ways to meet those serving goals:
- Add fruit to breakfast and/or spinach and tomatoes to your morning eggs and whole-grain toast
- Reduce meat and increase vegetables on your sandwich
- Request side salads and fruit cups instead of fries at restaurants
- Consider a portabella mushroom “burger” instead of traditional beef
- Snack on easy-to-transport items such as an apple, banana, carrots with hummus, and guacamole
Be brave and try a new vegetable or plant-forward dish at least once per week! Check out these awesome (and EASY!) recipes to get you started.
Continue the journey of reducing your risk of disease by ensuring you’re eating the correct servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Take some inspiration from our chefs, and get creative with your plant-forward dishes.