We snack on berries and apricots in the name of skin health
, fill our plates with leafy greens to support our hearts, and dine on fish and eggs to foster brain function. Yet, how many of us eat specifically to encourage breast health?
We should. In addition to offering sexual pleasure and bringing life-sustaining milk to our infants, healthy breasts are key to a healthy life. Statistics show that a whopping one in eight women in the United States will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives; roughly 40,000 women die of the disease every year.
What’s more, breast health
can be indicative of overall health: Calcifications (or small calcium deposits) in the arteries of the breast may signify an elevated risk for cardiovascular disease, for example. And while most of us know the staples of supporting breast health—from refraining from smoking to hitting the gym to conducting monthly breast self-exams—many of us would benefit tremendously from eating particular foods for the sake of our breasts.
Given that October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
, there’s no better time to start supporting your breast health than now. Here are seven foods that can do so—and seven ways to incorporate them into your life:
1. Fatty fish
Often have a hankering for sushi? You’re in luck. Fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel are jam-packed with Omega-3 fats, selenium, and antioxidants (such as canthaxanthin) that offer cancer-protective effects. In fact, an analysis of 26 studies
published by the National Library of Medicine found that women who ate high amounts of omega-3-rich seafood were 14% less likely to develop cancer than those who ate the lowest amount.
into your Caesar salad. Dice up a handful of nutrient-rich sardines
, sprinkle them with lemon and pepper, and toss them into your dressed-up bowl of romaine.
A few carrots a day may keep the doctor away: Researchers
found that foods high in beta-carotene may lower one’s risk of breast cancer. Additionally, carrots are low in calories, which can help keep your weight in check—another principle of lasting breast health.
into your salad. For a sweet and savory side dish, shave carrots and toss them with raisins
, diced apples, Greek yogurt and a dash of honey
Scientists at Texas A & M recently discovered that plums contain two types of polyphenols that can help kill breast cancer cells while leaving healthy cells intact. Plus, a single plum will give you 10% of the vitamin C you need on the daily.
into your morning oatmeal
. Cut the fruit into wedges, drizzle with honey, and serve over warm oatmeal with antioxidant-rich cardamom.
4. Leafy Greens
You’re likely well-aware that leafy greens—kale, spinach, collard greens and Swiss chard, for example—boast a number of health-enhancing benefits, including lowering blood sugar and reducing inflammation
. But did you know that leafy greens’ high calcium content might also support breast health?
According to a decade-long study out of Harvard, premenopausal women who received 1,366 mg of calcium (and 548 IU of vitamin D) daily cut their breast cancer risk by a third. They also slashed their risk of getting invasive breast cancer by up to 69%. Yet another reason to head to the salad bar…
Weave it in…
to your morning smoothie. Mix ½ cup of chopped kale with ½ cup of blueberries, ½ cup of yogurt or Kefir
and ½ banana. Mix until smooth and top with cinnamon
Flaxseeds brim with lignans—compounds that are believed to play a part in thwarting estrogen-dependent cancers from occurring by hindering the growth of tumors (or slowing their rate of growth). Further, flaxseeds contain healthy amounts of those aforementioned Omega-3s.
Weave it in…
Swap your usual olive oil for flaxseed oil
when you’re mixing up your salad: A single tablespoon of this stuff contains 7 grams of the nutrient-rich seed.
Often overlooked for its cousins rosemary and thyme, oregano is a superstar when it comes to breast health. A 2017 test tube study published in BioMed Research International
discovered that the spice contains two antioxidants—carvacrol and rosmarinic acid—that display significant anti-cancer effects against aggressive breast cancer lines.
Weave it in…
to your main meal. Marinate salmon (or another fatty fish) in lemon juice, olive oil, ground cumin, sea salt and minced oregano
. Let sit in the refrigerator for ½ hour, then cook over medium heat, 4-6 minutes on each side.
Yes, you heard us right: Coffee
—maligned as much as it is praised—may be a boon for breast health: A study published in the journal Breast Cancer Research
revealed that drinking two, twelve-ounce coffees per day can reduce your vulnerability to breast cancer. The theory is that coffee’s high antioxidant content may shield cells from damage that can ultimately lead to cancer. Boost your brain, mood,
and breast health all at once? One more reason to get out your French press.