You’ve probably heard a lot of buzz about how healthy certain foods are good for you, but they're not the end all be all of a healthy diet.
You’ve probably heard a lot of buzz about how healthy certain foods are good for you — like kale, salmon, almonds and avocado to name a few. While we love these foods (and they’re famous for a reason), they are certainly not the “be all, end all” of a healthy diet. Even if these foods are not your favorite, here are a few swaps for an equally healthy diet.
Both kale and cauliflower are part of the cruciferous vegetable family which contain glucosinolates which help eliminate disease-causing toxins and control hormones. These sulfur-containing glucosinolates give these vegetables the classic “stinky” odor that you know and will learn to love. These phytochemicals act as antioxidants, block tumor growth and cause cancer cells to die. Be careful not to overcook, though, because that may deplete some of the nutrients, so try sautéing or roasting.
Contrary to popular belief, moderate intake of shrimp and eggs do not contribute to increased cholesterol. They are both great sources of protein and also one of the few food sources of choline which is essential for optimal memory, detoxification of the liver, and nervous system activity. Adequate protein is essential during and after cancer treatment.
Cashew butter, sunflower seed butter
Instead of almonds, you can use nut butters like cashew and sunflower seed. They are more mild in flavor, but still have the healthy fat and protein that almonds are known for to keep you feeling full. Nuts are great sources of sterols, which are a phytochemical that cause cancer cell death and lessens chronic inflammation that can support cancer growth.
Grilled Chicken →
Sick of that boring grilled chicken breast? Taste changes during cancer treatment is common. Try using ground turkey instead. Turkey and ground turkey is high in protein and very versatile. It can be the main attraction or easily hidden in a dish.
Not an “apple a day” kind of person? Try blueberries instead. Both are great sources of an antioxidant called quercetin which improves cardiovascular health and encourages healthy blood flow. When your body is stressed it produces cortisol which is a hormone that creates the fight or flight response. Quercetin suppresses the enzyme necessary for cortisol release, to protect your body from the damaging effects of stress.
Kefir, Almond Milk
Yogurt is one of the food sources that provides probiotics which are required for optimal gut and immune function. Kefir is a great drinkable alternative to yogurt with the same probiotic benefits. If you’re cutting back on dairy, try using almond milk which acts as a great dairy free calcium source. As added benefit, a whole cup only had 30 calories, to help fill you up without filling you out.
Avocado has heart smart monounsaturated fats and helps lower harmful cholesterol. Tahini, a paste made from sesame seeds, also provides these heart healthy fats while also a good source for minerals like potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Tahini is extremely adaptable and great as a part both sweet and savory dishes.
Salmon is famous for its high content of omega-3 fatty acids, making flax seeds a healthy alternative. With two tablespoons providing 5 grams of fiber, these will also help keep you full and alleviate constipation. For women on hormone treatment, one to two tablespoons a day may help reduce hot flashes and does not interfere with the medication.
Like bell peppers, carrots are also super high in anti-inflammatory vitamin C and can be found in a variety of bright, beautiful colors this time of year. Carrots are healthy complex carbohydrates that provide a variety of phytochemicals and antioxidants from the jewel toned pigments such a beta carotene and lutein, and anthocyanins. Carotenoids act as antioxidants, help inhibit cancer cell growth and improves the immune system.
Onions, scallions, shallots, chives, leeks
Garlic gets a lot of health press, and for good reason. But other allium vegetables like onions, shallots and scallions great aromatic alternatives. The alliums in this family of aromatics helps to slow or stop the growth of tumors. Hint—if using garlic, cutting or crushing it at least 10 minutes before cooking makes those cancer-fighting compounds more available.
Amanda Bontempo, MS RD CSO CDN