March 8th it is a tribute to the woman- the mother, the sister, the friend, the girlfriend and wife – and it is celebrated throughout the world as the woman’s day. In some countries, like the ex Soviet Union countries, it is even a Bank holiday. One of the most common diseases that the women face is breast cancer. Since it is well said and documented that prevention is the best cure of a disease, it is among the documented facts that Mediterranean diet foods prevent Breast Cancer. What we mean by Breast cancer is off course the malignant tumor that develops in the breast.
Several studies that have been contacted for the purposes of Mediterranean diet have shown that women in the Mediterranean that have followed their traditional diet had no or very low incidents of Breast cancer. Women in Greece, Italy, Turkey, Cyprus and North Egypt, who participated in recent studies, had lower incidents of Breast cancer than women in United States and Canada who followed a completely different, and certainly non-Mediterranean style, diet.
So what was the difference? Apart from the different lifestyle, it was certainly the different types of foods that these groups of women were eating. It was found that the following Mediterranean foods give increased protection and fortify the prevention mechanisms of the human body so as to withstand the attacks of the cancerous aggressive cells on the female breast. Some of these foods are listed below:
Whole Grain Products: Whole Grains and thus whole grain products increase the amount of fiber in the body, which in turn lowers the estrogen levels, thus reducing the risk and possibility of Breast cancer. Whole Grain foods include whole grain bread, bagels, whole grain pasta and various whole cereals.
Nuts: Nuts are part of the Mediterranean diet and should be eaten daily. Nuts contain Calcium, Magnesium, Vitamin E and phytochemicals, all of which are cancer prevention substances and especially for breast cancer. Phytochemicals are considered to affect health even though they have not been established as nutrients. They are however anti-oxidants and are included in every anti-cancer diet. The most common nuts used by Mediterranean people are almond and walnut nuts.
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables: Fruits and vegetables are basic foods and components of the Mediterranean diet and should be eaten by all daily. For people who already have been attacked by cancer it is recommended that they double the intake amounts. They, fruits and vegetables, contain fibers, Vitamin D, anti-oxidants and other elements that are anti-breast-cancer nutrients. Vegetables such as spinach and carrots are especially rich and more effective than others. From the fruits category, Pomegranate is one fruit that has the most anti-cancer nutrients.
Dairy products: Dairy products are certainly a part of the anti-cancer diet that people should follow and if they part of their daily diet it can be a cancer prevention ‘weapon’. They are certainly part of the Mediterranean diet. It should be distinguished however that in the very basic Mediterranean diet the milk was from goats and sheep and the various dairy products were from goat and sheep milk. Dairy products contain the so called dairy fat which contains conjugated linoleic acid which is an additional cancer fighting nutrient. Dairy products that should be taken daily are white cheeses and yogurt.
Fish: Fish is a must in the weekly diet plan. It should be taken at least 3 times a week. Women should eat the Omega-3 rich fish, since Omega-3 is a breast cancer prevention nutrient. All fish have Omega-3 but fish like sardines, tuna and salmon contain especially high quantities of Omega-3.
Women that have been diagnosed to have breast cancer should avoid red meat and cow milk that contains growth hormones.
Women who wish to follow the Mediterranean diet or eat selected Mediterranean foods should remember that this should be done part of their way of living and not be done sporadically and as and when the fear of cancer dominates their thoughts.
Happy Woman’s Day and may the Mediterranean diet be a new start for you.