February 27, 2023
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Dietitian Jillian Kubala shares a roundup of her favorite nutrient-dense recipes that can help support your health with breast cancer.
If you’re currently living with breast cancer, taking care of your health by eating nutritious foods may be one of your top priorities.
Not only can following a nutritious diet help give you energy and deliver the nutrients your body needs to stay healthy, but certain dietary patterns may help reduce breast cancer risk and improve survival, treatment effectiveness, and quality of life in people who have breast cancer.
Research in 2022 suggests that diets that are high in nutrient-dense foods like vegetables, nuts, fruits, beans, and fish offer protection against breast cancer and could also help you live a longer and healthier life.
These foods are packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds and nutrients like fiber, healthy fats, and protein, all of which offer a host of health benefits.
Here are some of my favorite recipes for people with breast cancer.
Whether you prefer a savory or sweet breakfast, I’ve got you covered with these delicious and nutritious recipes that can help you start your day in a healthy way.
Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite starchy vegetables. They’re packed with fiber, which is essential for digestive health, and are an excellent source of carotenoids like beta-carotene. Carotenoids are plant pigments that have powerful antioxidant effects on the body.
People who follow diets high in carotenoids have been shown to have a lower risk of cancer, including breast cancer.
This recipe combines sweet potatoes with chickpeas, peppers, onions, olive oil, and spices. Top this tasty hash with an egg for a rich source of protein and healthy fat.
Recipe: Sweet Potato Hash with Za’atar and Chickpeas by The Mediterranean Dish
Did you know that cocoa and chocolate products are some of the richest sources of flavonoid antioxidants that you can eat? Flavonoids, including cocoa flavonoids like epicatechin, catechin, and procyanidins, have been shown to have anticancer activity and may help protect your cells from damage.
Combining cacao with cherries, oats, walnuts, and chia seeds — which are also high in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory substances — is a delicious way to support your health and provide your body with protective nutrients.
Overnight oats are simple to make and can be prepared in large batches, making this a perfect grab-and-go recipe for busy mornings. Add a bit of protein powder like unsweetened pea protein or collagen peptides for extra staying power.
Recipe: Dark Chocolate Cherry Overnight Oats by Sharon Palmer, RDN
If you’re not a fan of most breakfast recipes, you might like this nontraditional breakfast salad. It’s made with avocados, tomatoes, greens, quinoa, and eggs, which is a filling combination that can help you power through your morning.
Sneaking in fruits and vegetables whenever you can is an important way to care for your health when you’re living with breast cancer. Not only do fruits and vegetables provide essential nutrients, but according to some research, people who follow diets high in certain fruits and vegetables post-breast cancer diagnosis may have a lower risk of all-cause and breast cancer-related mortality.
You can make the quinoa ahead of time so that you can throw this delicious breakfast together in a matter of minutes.
Recipe: Poached Egg and Avocado Breakfast Salad by Jar of Lemons
Stumped over what to eat for lunch? Try out these recipes! Many are meal prep-friendly.
The Mediterranean diet is a way of eating that’s been linked to a number of health benefits, including a reduced risk of breast cancer.
It’s high in fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seafood, which are full of protective compounds like vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids. This Mediterranean bowl recipe pairs salmon with an assortment of health-promoting ingredients like greens, chickpeas, tomatoes, and olives.
Salmon is an excellent source of the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, which have anti-inflammatory properties and anticancer effects.
If you’re going through cancer treatment, eating protein-rich foods like salmon may help you maintain your muscle mass and give your body the energy it needs to heal.
Recipe: Mediterranean Bowl with Salmon by the Real Food Dietitians
If you’re looking for a warming, easy lunch idea, soup is always a great option.
This veggie-packed lentil soup is a perfect choice for meal prep as it can be made in large batches and stored in the fridge or freezer when you need a quick lunch option.
Some research shows that a legume-rich diet could offer protection against breast cancer. A small 2021 study found that women with the highest legume intake had a 46% reduced risk of breast cancer compared to the women with the lowest legume intake.
Recipe: Best Lentil Soup by Cookie and Kate
In case you can’t tell by now, I’m a big fan of sweet potatoes. I love all types of root vegetables, including regular potatoes, but sweet potatoes have a taste that brightens up any dish.
Plus, they’re a rich source of anticancer compounds like fiber, carotenoids, and vitamin C.
One serving of this recipe provides about 12 grams of fiber, which covers almost half of the recommended daily fiber intake for women between the ages of 19 and 50. A high fiber diet has also been shown to offer protection against breast cancer.
Recipe: Mediterranean Baked Sweet Potatoes by Minimalist Baker
Hungry for dinner, but looking for something quick, nutritious, and satisfying? These recipes will cover all of your bases.
In order to make sure your dinner is filling, you’ll want to add a source of protein. Combining garlicky shrimp skewers with a zesty quinoa and black bean salad provides both plant- and animal-based sources of protein.
Some cancer experts suggest that people going through cancer treatment consume both animal- and plant-based sources of protein to provide their bodies with the amino acids necessary to maintain muscle mass and support recovery.
Recipe: Garlic Grilled Shrimp Skewers by Downshiftology paired with Chili Lime Quinoa Black Bean Salad by The Real Food Dietitians
This sheet pan chicken shawarma recipe is high in protein, fiber, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. Plus, it takes just 20 minutes to prepare and 35 minutes to cook.
It includes both fresh and roasted veggies and uses a mixture of spices including turmeric, paprika, coriander, and black pepper, all of which have potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Some research suggests that regularly consuming spices like turmeric and black pepper may protect against chronic diseases, including cancer.
Recipe: Sheet Pan Chicken Shawarma Bowls by The Real Food Dietitians
This recipe’s vibrant color and impressive health benefits come from purple cabbage, carrots, edamame, bell pepper, and cilantro.
Cabbage is an often overlooked cruciferous vegetable that I love to sneak into recipes. Red cabbage — also called purple cabbage — is full of anticancer compounds like fiber, vitamin C, and anthocyanins.
This recipe is vegan and gets its protein from edamame and a tasty peanut butter-based sauce, but you can easily add an additional source of protein like chicken or fish if you desire. It calls for whole wheat spaghetti, but if you follow a gluten-free diet, you can use brown rice noodles instead.
Recipe: Vegan Rainbow Peanut Noodles by Healthy Girl Kitchen
Having nutritious snacks on hand can help keep you fueled — whether it’s at your cancer treatment appointments or throughout your day.
Here are a few healthy snack ideas that can satisfy your sweet or salty cravings.
Most people eat chia pudding for breakfast, but I love to use it for a filling snack. Chia seeds are packed with fiber and healthy fats and are an excellent source of magnesium, a mineral that can help your body manage stress.
The mixed berries and peanut butter in this recipe give this snack an extra nutritional boost. It’s also sweet enough to be enjoyed as a nutrient-dense dessert.
Recipe: Peanut Butter and Jelly Chia Pudding by Running on Real Food
This protein-packed chicken salad can be paired with apple slices, crackers, or sliced vegetables for a filling snack.
Avocado, which is used as a nutritious stand-in for mayo, is packed with anticancer nutrients like vitamin E, vitamin C, and carotenoids. Celery, green onions, and cilantro add extra flavor, nutritional value, and crunch.
Recipe: Avocado Chicken Salad by Feel Good Foodie
Trail mix is one of the easiest snack recipes to throw together. Premade trail mixes that you find at the stores are commonly loaded with sugary ingredients like candy, so making your own at home can be a healthier option.
Research in 2020 shows that diets high in nuts and seeds can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases, like cancer.
This recipe pairs almonds and pumpkin seeds with chewy cherries, coconut flakes, and cacao nibs to create a delicious, satisfying, and portable snack.
Recipe: Almond Cherry Cacao Trail Mix by The Black Peppercorn
Whether you’re living with breast cancer or are trying to reduce your risk, following a nutritious diet is important.
The recipes included in this article are full of ingredients that can help support and protect your overall health and keep you fueled and energized.
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