(NaturalHealth365) With the odds of developing breast cancer standing at 1 in 8, the disease is currently the leading cancer among women in the United States – claiming the lives of over 40,000 women in 2013 alone. Epidemiologist Dr. Hannah Weir of the CDC predicts that by 2020 breast cancer will be second only to prostate cancer in leading the increase in new cases.
Fortunately, nature has provided a protective arsenal of superfoods that may help to prevent the development of breast cancer.
Slash YOUR risk of breast cancer with these 25 flavorful and healthy foods
The value of arugula
Sometimes known as “rocket,” this amazing cancer-fighting salad green is a cousin to Brussels sprouts and broccoli. Chewing arugula releases isothiocyanates – compounds that neutralize carcinogens in the body.
Arugula is also rich in beneficial chlorophyll, vitamin C and beta-carotene, a plant pigment with cancer-fighting effects.
Favor your diet with flaxseeds
Tiny, nutty-flavored flaxseeds are packed with fiber, which reduces cancer risk. They also inhibit the ability of excess estrogen in the body to trigger breast cancer.
For maximum benefit, grind flaxseeds before use and sprinkle them over salads or cereals.
Give green tea the green light
Green tea is packed with flavonoids known as catechins, which protect against DNA damage caused by free radicals. Catechins also suppress urokinase, an enzyme that is often overactive in breast cancer patients.
For maximum cancer-fighting benefit, choose loose leaves. Adding a zip of lemon juice to your brew makes the powerful catechins even more bioavailable.
Reap the rewards of raspberries
Raspberries are rich in fiber and high in ellagic acid, a potent anti-carcinogen and anti-mutagen that can prevent dangerous changes in cell DNA. Studies have shown that raspberry extracts have caused apoptosis – programmed cell death – in cancer cells.
Think pink with salmon
Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which may help prevent breast cancer. In addition, astaxanthin – which gives the flesh its distinctive pinkish-orange color – is a potent antioxidant that can reduce free radical damage.
Choose wild salmon, which is higher in astaxanthin and lower in possible contaminants. Because of the risk of overexposure to mercury, the FDA recommends confining your salmon intake to two servings a week.
Go nuts for optimal health
Walnuts are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, and are high in antioxidants, which reduce risk of breast cancer. Eat them out of hand as a snack, or add them to salads and casseroles.
Get a boost from asparagus
Asparagus is a good source of glutathione, a natural antioxidant that is essential for detoxification from toxins and carcinogens. Glutathione also boosts the immune system and enhances the activities of cancer-fighting macrophages.
Enjoy the “spice of life” with horseradish
This tangy condiment is a tremendous source of glucosinolates, compounds which help with the detoxification of carcinogens – and have been shown to slow the growth of cancerous tumors.
The sweetness of cherries
Cherries have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities, and are also loaded with disease-fighting plant pigments called anthocyanins. Bonus: cherries contain high levels of perillyl alcohol, which has been shown to target and destroy cancer cells.
Crunch on cabbage
Like arugula, cabbage releases isothiocyanates when chewed, and protects cell DNA from cancer-causing mutations. Because prolonged cooking depletes its cancer-fighting polyphenols, eat cabbage raw or very lightly steamed.
Give kale the OK
Kale has one of the highest antioxidant values of any food on the planet, giving it unparalleled ability to scavenge the free radicals that can cause oxidative damage – and can contribute to breast cancer. In addition, kale contains whopping amounts of beta-carotene, which is strongly associated with a lower risk of developing breast cancer.
Grab some garlic
When chopped or chewed, garlic releases a compound called allicin. Allicin has been shown to help prevent the development of breast cancer – when consumed regularly. For maximum benefit, chop or crush the garlic 10 minutes before eating to fully activate the allicin.
Welcome watercress into your life
Watercress is a great source of the cancer-fighting compounds sulforaphane and beta-carotene. In addition, studies have shown that polyphenols in watercress help to shut down the production of matrix metalloproteinase-9, a chemical which facilitates the spread of breast cancer.
This elegant, leafy green has a peppery, lemony taste and can be used to add zest and crunch to sandwiches and salads.
You can bank on broccoli
Like other cruciferous vegetables, broccoli is loaded with sulforaphane, which neutralizes carcinogens, suppresses DNA mutation and induces apoptosis in cancer cells. Broccoli – as well as broccoli sprouts – also contains glutathione, the body’s master antioxidant.
Because cooking destroys glutathione, broccoli should be eaten raw or lightly steamed to maximize nutrient intake.
Bring on the Brussels sprouts
Humble Brussels sprouts have heroic powers when it comes to fighting breast cancer. Cousin to broccoli and cabbage, Brussels sprouts contain indole-3-carbinol, a potent antioxidant that helps to neutralize and eliminate cancer-causing toxins.
Consider carrots for good health
In addition to being high in beta-carotene, carrots are a good source of falcarinol, which inhibits breast cancer. For best effect, eat them uncooked or lightly steamed – and don’t chop them up until after they are cooked in order to keep valuable polyphenols and nutrients intact.
Why shiitake mushrooms matter
Shiitake mushrooms are packed with the cancer-fighting mineral selenium, with a single cup offering over half of the recommended daily amount. But their secret weapon is their high content of beta-glucans – beneficial sugars classified as “biological response modifiers,” which target and destroy cancerous cells.
The rich and meaty flavor makes these tasty mushrooms one of the crown jewels of vegetarian and vegan cuisine.
Time for some fishy news
Fish eggs are loaded with DHA and EPA, the same beneficial omega-3 fatty acids found in fish – and research shows that consuming omega-3s regularly is associated with lower risk of cancer. However, due to their high levels of cholesterol and sodium, it’s best to eat them in modest quantities.
For environmental reasons, look for roe from salmon or hake – not Atlantic sturgeon, which is overfished.
A good reason to eat prunes
Prunes are just about off the charts on the ORAC scale, which measures the antioxidant powers of food. In fact, the antioxidant content of prunes is double that of such nutritional superstars as blueberries and raisins.
In addition, their high fiber content may help prevent estrogen dependent breast cancer in premenopausal women.
Don’t forget the value of rosemary
This savory herb has high levels of carnosic acid, rosmarinic acid and alpha tocopherol, all potent antioxidants. In addition, rosemary has been shown to inactivate aggressive estrogen types – such as estradiol and estrone – that can trigger breast cancer.
Don’t miss out on the benefits of miso soup
Studies have shown that soy isoflavones found in this delicately-flavored broth reduce the risk of breast cancer. As a fermented food, miso has immune system-boosting effects, and can enhance the function of cancer-destroying macrophages.
Pick pomegranates for great health
The luscious pomegranate contains three different compounds – luteolin, ellagic acid and punicic acid – shown in studies to prevent DNA damage, prevent the proliferation of cancer cells, and reduce the number and size of breast tumors. In a study published in Nutrition and Cancer, the researchers noted that pomegranate caused a “striking reduction of mammary tumor incidence and total tumor burden.”
Make maitake part of your diet
Maitake mushrooms are considered a medicinal mushroom in some natural healing systems – and studies are bearing out their ability to inhibit the growth of tumors and activate macrophages. Use them as you would shiitake mushrooms, in soups, salads and stews.
Savor sweet potatoes
High in beta-carotene, fiber, anthocyanidins and vitamins A and C, sweet potatoes have all the right stuff to qualify as an anti-cancer food. One study found that pre-menopausal women who eat healthy amounts of beta-carotene, fiber and vitamin C cut breast cancer risk in half.
Turn to turmeric to protect your life
Curcumin, the active ingredient in this bright yellow spice, is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. Curcumin suppresses production of the chemical compound nitrosamine – which is associated with increased risk of cancer – and causes apoptosis in cancer cells.
Eaten consistently, these foods can be powerful weapons against breast cancer. Of course, purchase only certified organic foods, free of GMOs and pesticides. Plus, enjoy the journey!