It’s no secret that good nutrition is a key component in breast health and disease prevention.
But sometimes it takes a little reminding as to what good nutrition really is, and there is no better time for a primer than during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
To improve your health, a good place to start is to know your body mass index, said Pamela Rochford, a registered dietitian and board certified specialist in oncology nutrition at Mercy Medical Center in Canton, Ohio. In a nutshell, BMI is a measure of body fat based on a your weight and height.
“If your BMI is greater than 25, there is an increase risk factor for breast cancer,” said Rochford, who has been a nutritionist at Mercy for 19 years. To easily calculate your BMI, visit the American Institute For Cancer Research at www.aicr.org.
Staying within your healthy BMI range throughout life is important for lowering your cancer risk.
“Yoyo-ing is not good,” the North Canton resident said. “It’s about maintaining a good weight.”
This isn’t cutting edge technology, as you know. Shed excess pounds. Don’t smoke. Exercise. Eat right.
“It’s the same old stuff we’ve always heard,” she said. “Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, eat whole grains, and lower your fat intake overall.”
But good health also means educating yourself about the latest nutrition news, such as the benefits of such as fiber, beta-carotene and Omega-3.
In regards to breast cancer, fiber helps keep weight under control. Beta-carotene helps the immune system fight infection. Omega-3 fatty acids are thought to play an important role in reducing inflammation throughout the body.
“Omega-3 in fish and plants are known to reduce tumor growth,” Rochford said.
Mostly, it’s all about balance, she said. Yes, walnuts are an awesome source of Omega-3. But if you eat them by handfuls every day, you’ll increase your calorie and fat intake.
“So just sprinkle some on top of a salad,” she said.
The same with eating too much fish to boost your Omega-3. Fish and shellfish concentrate mercury in their bodies, and eating too much fish puts you at risk for exposure to mercury.
“You don’t want to go overboard with anything,” Rochford said. “You have to look at (nutrition) as not just one thing in particular, but a lot of different factors.” Eating a variety of food increases your likelihood of covering all your nutritional bases. And don’t get caught up in downing supplements to boost your nutrients, she added.
“Food, in my opinion,” she said, “is always better than supplements.”
FLAXSEED AND BLUEBERRY PANCAKES
3/4 cup buckwheat flour
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
Page 2 of 4 - 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup skim or low fat buttermilk
3/4 cup skim milk
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon honey
2 cups blueberries (rinsed and set aside)
Vegetable cooking spray
Pure maple syrup as desired
In a large bowl combine flours, flaxseed, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In separate bowl mix together buttermilk, skim milk, eggs, oil and honey. Pour egg mixture into dry ingredients and stir just until batter is lightly mixed together. (If the batter appears too thick, add a dollop more of skim milk to thin.) Lumps are okay and overmixing makes for hard pancakes. Fold in blueberries.
Preheat large skillet over medium heat. Spray skillet with cooking spray. Use about 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake. Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes per side on medium or medium-high heat. The pancakes are ready to flip when bubbles start to appear. Turn over only once and when golden brown. Yields 6 servings.
Per serving: 220 calories, 6 g total fat (1 g saturated fat), 33 g carbohydrate, 9 g protein, 6 g dietary fiber, 600 mg sodium.
— American Institute For Cancer Research.
CHICKEN CRUSTED WITH ALMOND AND FLAX
4 (4 oz.) boneless chicken breasts
1/4 cup almond meal (crushed almonds may be substituted)
2 tablespoons ground flax meal
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon almond butter, optional
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using kitchen mallet, pound breasts uniformly flat, if desired. Combine almond and flax meal and salt in small bowl and stir to mix uniformly. Combine oil, almond butter (if using), lemon juice, garlic and all spices and herbs in medium bowl. Mix thoroughly. Add chicken to mixture and let marinate for at least 5 minutes.
Remove chicken from marinade and place on baking dish. Sprinkle half the almond-flax mixture evenly over chicken. Pat each breast with your hand to ensure it adheres and forms a crust. Gently turn over each breast, being careful not to disturb coating, and repeat the process using remaining almond-flax mixture. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until meat thermometer reaches 165 degrees when inserted into the chicken. Makes 4 servings.
Per serving: 210 calories, 11 g total fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 3 g carbohydrate, 25 g protein, 2 g dietary fiber, 300 mg sodium.
— American Institute For Cancer Research.
BROCCOLI, GARLIC AND LEMON PENNE
1/2 pound penne pasta
5 cups broccoli florets or one (12-ounce) bag broccoli florets
Page 3 of 4 - 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
10 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
Grated zest of one lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Prepare penne according to package directions for al dente (just firm). Two to three minutes before penne is ready, add broccoli. Finish cooking, drain, and set aside. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, add oil. Sauté garlic for 1 to 2 minutes, or until aromatic and beginning to color. Add broth and bring to a boil for 3 to 5 minutes, or until reduced by half, stirring frequently. Add pasta, broccoli, and lemon zest and cook until coated with sauce. Season generously with salt and pepper. Transfer to serving bowl and top with cheese.
Per Serving: 395 calories, 17 g total fat (3 g saturated fat), 135 mg sodium, 5 g dietary fiber, 4 g sugars, 13 g protein.
— American Cancer Society.
BAKED SWEET POTATO WEDGES
4 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed, eyes removed, cut lengthwise into 3/4-inch wedges
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Dash of cayenne pepper (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly spray nonstick baking dish or cast-iron skillet with cooking spray. Spray potato wedges with cooking spray and toss together with all spices in a bowl. Place potatoes in a single layer in the baking dish or skillet. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn over and bake an additional 20 minutes. Serves 8. Approximate per serving: 125 calories; 0 grams of fat.
— American Cancer Society.
REDUCE YOUR RISK OF BREAST CANCER WITH GOOD NUTRITION
With tips from Pamela Rochford, a registered dietitian and board certified specialist in oncology nutrition at Mercy Medical Center.
Unprocessed Foods - The less processed, the better. Think fresh, locally grown, raw foods. “And if you can’t get fresh, the next best is fresh frozen,” Rochford says.
Fish - Boost your Omega-3 intake with fish. Sardines have the highest content. Not a fan? Go for these, ranked in order by highest levels: Salmon (wild-caught has more than farm-raised), canned albacore tuna, mussel, and rainbow trout.
Flaxseed - Flaxseed and flaxseed oil are rich sources of essential fatty acids. A teaspoon or two a day is a good rule of thumb, Rochford said.
Oils - Cook with good fats such as canola or soybean oil. “Make salad vinaigrettes with healthful oils such as macadamia, walnut and olive oil,” Rochford said.
Nuts and seeds - Add loads of flavor, texture and healthy Omega-3 oils to dishes by including walnuts, butternuts, pine nuts, and seeds such as poppy, pumpkin and sesame.
Leafy greens - So what if there’s spinach in your teeth. Spinach, along with other leafy greens such as kale and chard, are low-fat, high-fiber foods rich in nutrients.
Page 4 of 4 - Legumes - Chili, anyone? “Beans have lots of fiber, but you don’t think about them as having Omega-3. Northern, kidney, soy and navy actually have Omega-3,” Rochford said.
Cruceriferous vegetables - Eat your broccoli, just like mom said. And lots of other fresh, high-fiber veggies, such as Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage. “Eat foods high in beta-carotene and anti-oxidants,” Rochford says.