Nutrition Before During and After Cancer

Information on nutritional needs for cancer patients


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Your Thanksgiving table

Five recipes with cancer-fighting foods

Cranberries:

Cranberries

These bright red gems contain vitamin C, dietary fiber and anthocyanins, compounds well-studied for their cancer-fighting properties.

Spiced Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Sauce

  • 1/2 cup dried, sweetened cherries
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 1 bag (12 oz.) fresh cranberries or frozen, unsweetened if fresh not available
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves

Directions

In small bowl, soak cherries in cider for 30 to 60 minutes.

In heavy, large saucepan, combine cranberries, cherries with soaking liquid, sugar, cinnamon and cloves, and bring mixture to boil over medium-high heat. Simmer, uncovered, until cranberries pop and soften, but are not mushy, about 15 minutes. If using frozen cranberries, berries may not pop but they will soften; do not let them collapse completely. Spoon hot sauce into decorative serving bowl or other container and cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate cooled sauce for 8 hours to allow flavors to meld. Spiced Cranberry Sauce keeps up to 3 days, tightly covered in refrigerator.

Makes 2 cups, 8 servings (1/4 cup per serving).

Per serving: 74 calories, 0 g total fat (0 g saturated fat), 19 g carbohydrate, 0 g protein, 2 g dietary fiber, 5 mg sodium

Sweet potatoes:

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes with their orange flesh are packed with beta-carotene, a carotenoid with antioxidant properties that may inhibit cancer cell growth and improve immune response. The brighter the orange color of the flesh, the more beta-carotene. Sweet potatoes also are rich in vitamin C, potassium and fiber.

Sweet Potato Wedges with Rosemary

Sweet Potatoes with Rosemary

  • 3 small sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced lengthwise in 8 wedges
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary, and a few sprigs for garnish
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. dry mustard powder
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive or canola oil
  • Salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Place wedges in large bowl. Add rosemary, garlic powder, mustard and oil. Toss to coat well. Arrange potatoes on baking sheet, making sure not to overlap potatoes. Bake 15 minutes. Turn wedges over and bake 15 minutes or until potatoes are soft and beginning to brown.

Lightly season to taste with salt. Garnish with fresh rosemary sprigs. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 146 calories, 7 g total fat (<1 g saturated fat), 20 g carbohydrate,
2 g protein, 3 g dietary fiber, 54 mg sodium.

Green beans:

Green Beans

Cooked green beans contain 4 grams of cancer-preventive fiber per cup, plus some vitamin A and potassium. This casserole dish also features mushrooms, which contain the mineral selenium and compounds called ergosterols; both substances may help to reduce cancer risk.

Green Bean and Mushroom Casserole

green beans and mushroom casserole

  • Canola oil cooking spray
  • 1 lb. green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces, or frozen green beans
  • 2 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. canola oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 8 oz. white mushrooms, stemmed and cut into 4 to 6 pieces
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. rice or all-purpose wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups reduced-fat (2 percent) milk
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Coat 11-inch x 7-inch (2 quart) baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

In large pot of boiling water, cook green beans until almost tender, 5 minutes. Drain in colander, and then transfer beans to bowl of ice water. When beans are cool, drain well and spread in prepared baking dish.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until browned, 8 minutes, stirring often. Scoop onion into small bowl, add panko, and mix with fork to combine well. Set topping aside.

Return pan to medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook until they look wet, 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add garlic and cook until mushrooms are tender, 5 minutes, stirring often. Add mushroom mixture to green beans.

Add remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to pan. Sprinkle flour over oil and cook, using a wooden spoon to stir and scrape mushroom and garlic bits from bottom of pan. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly, lowering heat as needed to prevent flour from browning. Pour in milk while stirring vigorously. When sauce boils, reduce heat and simmer until spoon leaves a wide path and sauce is thick enough to coat spoon well, 5-7 minutes. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper, and add cayenne pepper Add sauce to vegetables, and stir to combine. Then spread in an even layer.

Sprinkle topping over casserole and bake, uncovered, for 10 minutes, or until topping is crunchy and mostly golden brown. Let casserole sit 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 210 calories, 8 g total fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 29 g carbohydrate,
7 g protein, 4 g dietary fiber, 95 mg sodium.

Whole grains (Bread) :

Whole grains Bread

All whole grains contain fiber. There are several ways fiber may lower risk, including promoting healthful bacteria growth. Whole grains may also help with weight control; excess body fat increases the risk of eleven cancers.

  • 2 tsp. instant yeast
  •  1 1/4 to 1 1/3 cups water (start with the smaller amount)
  •  3 Tbsp. canola oil
  •  2 Tbsp. brown sugar, firmly packed, or 2 Tbsp. honey may be substituted
  •    1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
  •  1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  •  1 1/4 tsp. salt
  •  3/4 cup toasted walnuts, finely chopped or crushed

 Directions

1.In large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and stir until dough starts to leave sides of bowl.

2.Transfer dough to lightly greased or floured surface. Knead 6 to 8 minutes or until it begins to become smooth and supple. (You may also knead dough in electric mixer or food processor or bread machine set to “dough.”)

3.Transfer dough to lightly greased bowl. Cover bowl and allow dough to rise until puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk, about 1 to 2 hours.

4.Transfer dough to a lightly oiled work surface and shape into 8-inch log. Tuck ends under as you place log in lightly greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan. Cover pan loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap and allow bread to rise for about 90 minutes until domed about 1-inch above edge of pan. A finger pressed into dough should leave a mark that rebounds slowly.

5.Bake bread in preheated oven at 350 degrees for about 35 to 40 minutes until golden brown. Test for doneness by removing from pan and thumping on bottom it should sound hollow. Or measure interior temperature with an instant read thermometer that should read 190 degrees at center of loaf.

6.When done, remove bread from pan and cool on wire rack before slicing. Store in plastic bag at room temperature.

Makes 16 slices.

Per serving: 150 calories, 7 g total fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 20 g carbohydrate, 4 g protein, 2 g dietary fiber, 180 mg sodium.

Apples:

Apple

High in fiber, particularly pectin fiber, apples help gut bacteria produce compounds to protect colon cells. Apples also are rich in the phytochemicals quercetin and epicatechin, which researchers are studying for their role in cancer protection.

Easy Baked Apples with Walnuts and Raisins

Easy Baked Apples with Walnuts and Raisins

  • Canola oil cooking spray
  • 3 large Granny Smith apples or any variety baking apple
  • 3 Tbsp. whole-wheat flour
  • 3 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 3/4-1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup apple cider

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray oven-proof glass pie dish.

Cut apples in half from top to bottom, core and peel. Lay halves flat and cut into medium slices. Place apple slices in large bowl.

In medium bowl, mix together flour, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Sprinkle mixture on apples and gently stir until apples are evenly coated with spices. Gently fold in walnuts and raisins.

Spoon apple mixture into prepared pie dish. Drizzle cider evenly over top.

Bake 50-55 minutes or until apples are tender. Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes. Using spatula, carefully turn over apple mixture to get caramelized sauce from bottom of dish. Serve hot or let cool to room temperature, refrigerate and serve cold later.

Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 151 calories, 3.5 g total fat (<1 g saturated fat),
31 g carbohydrate, 2 g protein, 4 g dietary fiber, 5 mg sodium.

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What’s the problem with eating sugar?

sugar-spoon

The federal government’s decision to update food labels marked a change for consumers. For the first time, beginning in 2018, nutrition labels will be required to list a breakdown of both the total sugars and the added sugars in packaged foods.

added-sugar

Why are food labels being revised?

The shift came after years of urging by many nutrition experts, who say that excess sugar is a primary cause of obesity and heart disease. Many in the food industry opposed the emphasis on added sugars, arguing that the focus should be on calories rather than sugar. They say that highlighting added sugar on labels is unscientific, and that the sugar that occurs naturally in foods like fruits and vegetables is essentially no different than the sugar commonly added to packaged foods.

natural-sweeteners

What about “natural” sweeteners?

Food companies like to market agave nectar, beet sugar, evaporated cane juice and many other “natural” sweeteners as healthier alternatives to high-fructose corn syrup. But whatever their source, they are all very similar. To suggest one is healthier than another is a stretch. In fact, the F.D.A. urged food companies to stop using the term evaporated cane juice because it is “false or misleading” and “does not reveal that the ingredient’s basic nature and characterizing properties are those of a sugar.”

 What’s the issue with added sugars?

It mainly comes down to the way they’re packaged.

Naturally occurring sugar is almost always found in foods that contain fiber, which slows the rate at which the sugar is digested and absorbed. (One exception to that rule is honey, which has no fiber.) Fiber also limits the amount of sugar you can consume in one sitting.

sugar-in-nature

A medium apple contains about 19 grams of sugar and four grams of fiber, or roughly 20 percent of a day’s worth of fiber. Not many people would eat three apples at one time. But plenty of children and adults can drink a 16-ounce bottle of Pepsi, which has 55 grams of added sugar – roughly the amount in three medium apples – and no fiber. Fiber not only limits how much you can eat, but how quickly sugar leaves the intestine and reaches the liver.

Why is it a problem to have too much sugar?

Many nutrition experts say that sugar in moderation is fine for most people. But in excess it can lead to metabolic problems beyond its effects on weight gain. The reason, studies suggest, is fructose. Any fructose you eat is sent straight to your liver, which specializes in turning it into droplets of fat called triglycerides.

While many health organizations – including AICR – recommend avoiding sugary drinks, this highlights the powerful affect that cutting out one single part of the diet may have, independent of other healthy changes.

sweet_graphic

A study focused on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a condition that can eventually cause cirrhosis and even liver cancer, suggests that a daily sugary drink increases the risk for NAFLD, especially – but not only – among overweight individuals.

Obesity and overweight are key risk factors for NAFLD, when there is extra fat in liver cells not caused by alcohol. AICR’s latest report on liver cancer, found that obesity increases the risk of this cancer. And research currently links sugary beverages to weight gain and obesity.

How much sugar is too much?

One of the largest studies of added sugar consumption, which was led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that adults who got more than 15 percent of their daily calories from added sugar had a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. The biggest sources for adults were soft drinks, fruit juices, desserts and candy.

While those might seem like obvious junk foods, about half of the sugar Americans consume is “hidden” in less obvious places like salad dressings, bread, low-fat yogurt and ketchup. In fact, of the 600,000 food items for sale in America, about 80 percent contain added sugar.

 Follow the World Health Organization’s guidelines, which recommend that adults and children consume no more than about six teaspoons daily of added sugar.

too-much-sugar


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These Foods can be part of a healthy diet

It is usually assumed that cutting certain foods from your diet will automatically make it healthy, or help with weight loss. However, if you’re solely focused on what you shouldn’t eat, you could be missing out on key benefits and nutrients and the pleasure of eating foods you really like that aren’t necessarily as damaging to your diet as you may think. The less you think exclusion, the more likely you’ll continue your healthy-eating habits long-term.

Here are some surprisingly healthy foods you might be missing out on:

Eggs

Eggs

Eggs have vitamin B-12, they are particularly important if you eat a mostly veggie-based diet. It’s the most biologically available protein. If you are worried about too much cholesterol, have egg whites.

Dairy

Dairy Products

Dairy has eight grams of protein, if you switch to soy, almond or coconut you lose all that, it is a great source of calcium and potassium, items like cheese and milk don’t usually make it into all the fancy diets . So, don’t ditch dairy for the wrong reasons. Keep cheese limited to a one-ounce serving, and stick to a cup of skim milk to keep calories in check.

Pasta

Pasta

People do not gain weight from eating pasta; they gain weight from eating too much pasta, serving size matters. Instead of creamy sauces, toss with olive oil, veggies, and a lean protein source like shrimp to balance out.

Potatoes

Potatoes

White potatoes have been deemed useless for some time now, they are a good source of fiber and potassium, and they’re not high in calories. It’s all in the way you prepare potatoes, the French fries, potato skins, baked potatoes with lot of cream and cheese are not the way to go, instead top your potatoes with salsa, Greek yogurt, or hummus.

Nuts

Pile of assorted nuts close up

They are an excellent source of healthy fats and protein. Portion them out — a serving is roughly the size of a shot glass. Just never eat them straight out of a container.

 Bread

Bread

Bread should be truly a source of whole grains (“whole wheat” should be the only flour you see on the label), so it’s rich in protein, fiber and other important nutrients.

Alcohol

red-wine

Alcohol can be a part of a well-balanced diet, keep your intake modest, rotating with water. A glass of red wine or a vodka soda with lime is a far, far better option than a piña colada. If you cut it all out, you may think you can’t be social — and all of a sudden, healthy eating becomes a chore instead of a better lifestyle choice.

Chocolate

Dark Chocolate

Yes chocolate too. Research shows that consuming chocolate increases the antioxidants in our blood. Cocoa powder ranks as having the highest antioxidants of the chocolate products, followed by dark chocolate and milk chocolate, make it sugar free.


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The Chocolate

The health benefits of chocolate depend upon the type of chocolates you choose – and how many.

The Healthy Insides

Dark Chocolate

Most of the health benefits with dark chocolate relate to cardiovascular disease. Dark chocolate is packed with flavonoids, a group of phytochemicals that act as antioxidants. Research shows that consuming chocolate increases the antioxidants in our blood. Cocoa powder ranks as having the highest antioxidants of the chocolate products, followed by dark chocolate and milk chocolate. Studies link eating chocolate in moderation with heart health, including improving blood vessel function and lowering blood pressure. The flavonoids can slow the oxidation of LDL cholesterol (the “bad” type). When LDL cholesterol becomes oxidized it can clog blood vessels.

Cocoa Powder

Given chocolate’s rich supply of flavonoids, researchers have also investigated whether it may play a role in cancer prevention. The studies in cancer prevention are still emerging. A recent review of studies on the cancer protective properties of cocoa concluded that the evidence is limited but suggestive.

Cacao Beans

From Cacao to Cocoa

Whatever the chocolate, it all begins with the cacao bean. First, the cacao bean is roasted and ground into thick chocolate liquor (non-alcoholic). This liquor, hardened, is unsweetened chocolate. When pressure is added to the liquor, it pushes out the bean’s fat, called cocoa butter. Cocoa powder is made by drying and sifting the remaining material from the liquor. Mix up some chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, sugar and milk, and the commercial chocolate treat emerges. In general, higher the percentage of cacao, the darker the chocolate, more intense the flavor and less room for sugar.

White chocolate contains cocoa butter but not any chocolate liquor; technically it is not chocolate. (It gets its name because it contains cocoa butter.)

Pick Your Pleasure

There are plenty of ways to get the same healthful plant compounds contained in chocolate, such as by eating fruits and vegetables. For chocolate lovers, you can enjoy it all. Whether it’s dark or milk, aim for the plain chocolates without sugar.