October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Nearly 1 in 8 women in the U.S. (roughly 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. Approximately 268,600 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S in 2019, along with 62,930 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer.
Since 1991, the Breast Cancer Awareness campaign and its marquee ribbon have us “thinking pink” instead of the traditional orange of the season. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, many people and businesses display pink ribbons in the fight against breast cancer. While pink may have become the symbolic color of breast cancer, orange is the color that can actually help prevent this disease.
While medical advances in breast cancer treatment are extending the lives of hundreds of thousands, lifestyle interventions could prevent some cancers altogether. While an exact figure is unknown, it’s estimated that lifestyle choices are responsible for up to 70% of cancer diagnoses. The more you know, the more you can protect yourself and your loved ones.
Breast cancer has very likely touched you or someone you know and love. My loved ones have been touched by breast cancer and other cancers. All of the mother figures in my life have been stricken with cancer and only my mother-in-law has survived it. Nutrition was never part of the discussion or treatment plan from the medical teams of my loved ones.
For example, research has shown that women who eat a lot of grilled, barbecued or smoked meats and very few fruits and vegetables have a higher risk of breast cancer compared to women who don’t eat a lot of grilled meats. Women who consume the most orange vegetables, which are rich in carotenoids, lower their risk of breast cancer by 19%.
Autumn is here and many carotenoid-rich vegetables are in season. Now is the time to stock your grocery cart with orange foods and visit farmers’ markets to load up on locally grown cancer-fighting foods like pumpkin, squash, and sweet potatoes. Make sure that even if you’re wearing pink, you’re still eating orange.
Mango-Turmeric Cancer-Fighting Smoothie
Makes 1 serving
This smoothie is a prescription in a glass: energizing and packed with cancer-fighting carotenoids and immune-boosting spices. There is no need to be concerned about the natural sugars in fruit. Fruit and the abundant antioxidants they bring lower cancer risk, whereas processed and refined sugars are known to feed cancer.
1 cup plant-based milk of choice
1 cup fresh or frozen mango
1 fresh or frozen banana
1 Medjool date
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ginger
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
Add all ingredients to a blender and process until smooth. If mango and banana are fresh, not frozen, add ice cubes to desired consistency.
Makes 5 Servings
A flavorful dish that is simple to prepare and packed with protein, fiber
Plant-based eating offers so much variety. It’s often reported that food becomes more enjoyable because it is an invitation to explore new ways of preparing meals that are filling and exciting to the palate while promoting good health.
2 tablespoons water
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon mild curry powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon sea salt
1½ cups green or brown canned
lentils rinsed and drained (or cooked from scratch)
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree (or 1½ cups steamed fresh pumpkin)
2¾ cups water
2 cups chopped apples
1½ tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
In a large pot, combine two tablespoons of water, onion, curry powder, coriander, cinnamon, garam masala and salt. Cover and cook over medium to medium-high heat, stirring once, for four to five minutes, until onion starts to soften. If the onion sticks, add another splash of water.
Add lentils and stir for a few minutes, then add the pumpkin and water. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, add the apples, cover, and simmer for 45 to 50 minutes (or longer) until the lentils are tender and the water is absorbed.
If the curry is too liquid for your taste, you can reduce it (uncovered) for another 15 minutes or so. Add the lemon juice, stir to incorporate and serve.
If you’d like some heat, add 1/4 teaspoon or more crushed red pepper flakes or a spicier curry powder along with the other spices when sautéing the onions.
Mango-Turmeric Cancer-Fighting Smoothie recipe and photo by Betsy Bruns
Lentil-Pumpkin Curryrecipe and photo courtesy of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM)