Vitamins, Vegetables and Breast Cancer

If only there were a magic-bullet food to prevent breast cancer. While it may not be that easy, certain foods eaten in combination could very well have cancer-preventative nutrients. So you can't go wrong when you connect the dots between vitamins, vegetables and breast-cancer prevention.

Vitamins that help fight breast cancer

When you add antioxidant vitamins to your diet, you just hired an army that can fight the formation of your body's enemy: free radicals. This enemy destroys body cells through oxidation that may cause breast cancer. Your body's natural defense system fights against free radicals, but it needs more reinforcements in the form of antioxidants like selenium, beta-carotene (a specific form of vitamin A), and vitamins C and E.

Other breast-cancer-fighting nutrients include phytochemicals (flavonoids, phenols and terpenes) and folic acid. Research is revealing that folic acid assists in the formation of new cells and tissues while keeping red blood cells healthy.

Although it's easy to grab a vitamin pill while running out the door, research suggests that getting nutrients from real food rather than pills delivers a stronger punch of nutrition and health benefits.

Vegetables and breast health

When you eat vegetables in their raw form, you are rewarded with higher nutrient values. Heating vegetables depletes their natural vitamin levels. Add the following to your next market list:

Dark green: Dark green leafy vegetables are rich in vitamins A, C and E. Choose bok choy, kale and romaine for salads. Spinach and asparagus are powerhouses of folic acid.

Bright colors. Tomatoes, peppers, carrots, broccoli, cabbage and soy beans are all loaded with breast-cancer-fighting phytochemicals. Tomatoes are one of the few vegetables whose cancer-fighting properties actually improve when processed or heated as a juice or sauce.

Cabbage family. A simple head of cabbage is only one member of the valuable cruciferous vegetable family. Others in this breast-cancer-fighting family include broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.

It's important to maintain a healthy balance at mealtime. The American Institute for Cancer Research suggests that you make vegetables take up at least two-thirds of your food plate, accompanied by no more than one-third animal protein.

Another reason to add more colorful vegetables to your diet in addition to breast health is that they are lower in calories. Eating a diet with more vegetables loaded with vitamins will also help you lose weight and keep it off. According to the Mayo Clinic, "A healthy diet can also help you maintain a healthy weight -- a key factor in breast cancer prevention."

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