You can fight breast cancer with good food habits all through the year. “There is no magic food,” says Lori Valencic, corporate nutritionist for Randalls, a US-based supermarket chain. “But what we eat matters. A plant-based diet is still the best,” she adds. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains. You know the drill.
Frankie Ann Holmes of the Austin group Texas Oncology recommends at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Cook fish or chicken and decrease red meat consumption. It’s almost the same diet as for good heart health. But Valencic has modified it a bit. The 9-13 servings of fruits and vegetables daily recommended is not a must, she adds. “I try to get two per meal,” she says.
It’s not as difficult as you might think if you keep portion sizes in mind. A large apple, for instance, is two servings, Valencic says. A salad is usually two. A smoothie can be two servings of fruits such as bananas and strawberries. That’s six servings right there. But you need to plan two servings of fruits or veggies a meal or you won’t get it, she says.
For instance, for breakfast, she buys ripe bananas, peels and slices them, and stores them in plasticware in the freezer. She advises keeping your blender out on the counter. With this small bit of forethought, you can make a smoothie much more easily than you can find a parking place at a juice bar or coffee house.
Valencic’s message focuses on easy, practical ways to put healthy eating into play. Most of us put the same 7-10 foods in our mouth over and over again, she says. Try to get the most bang for the bite.
Darker coloured fruits and vegetables tend to be the best for you. Broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts are on the A-list. Try to eat them several times a week. Dried apricots are rich in nutrients. So are berries, citrus fruits, butternut squash, sweet potatoes and pumpkin.
If your lifestyle is so unpredictable that fresh purchases often spoil, switch to frozen produce, she suggests. It is about the same nutritionally as fresh, but much more convenient. Frozen mixed vegetable combinations are good. Some canned products are excellent and require only heating up. Use the chilli as a topper for sweet or white potatoes. A small can of low-sodium tomato or low-sodium V8 juice is good added to soups instead of water. Prepackaged broccoli-carrot slaw is another of her standbys.
For nibbles, Valencic veers toward snow peas, lower-sodium salsas and grapes—red or green. Both are good. But not alcohol. Avoid alcohol to help prevent breast cancer, she says. In her recommendations, she suggests consuming less fat and alcohol (if anything, less than half a glass of wine per day, equivalent to 4 ounces or less).
Even frozen dinners, panini or individual pizzas, on occasion, can find a place in today’s diet, but look for those with extra veggies and whole grains. Read the labels to compare fat, sodium and protein content before purchasing. Values vary quite a bit. Then add baby carrots, a piece of fruit and a can of V8 to the frozen dinner meal.
Dessert is yet another place to include a fruit. For instance, have a fresh pear, maybe with a few chocolate shavings. Dark chocolate, in prudent amounts, is also in favour with dieticians these days because it contains antioxidants. Valencic, a size-2 chocoholic, works it into her diet daily. And that is possible if you keep exercise in your life, too. Another dessert option is a can of peaches in their own juice. Empty it into a plastic container and freeze. At the conclusion of dinner, toss it into a food processor and it becomes instant sorbet. Serve it in a martini glass for sleek presentation. A healthier diet needn’t be humdrum.
©2008/The New York Times