On the heels of breast cancer awareness month in October and during November — which is lung cancer awareness month — conversations around health and cancer are everywhere.
Many of those conversations include the connection between cancer and food given there are many ingredients that have proven cancer fighting and prevention properties. Some of the biggies include cruciferous vegetables, sweet potatoes, fish, ginger root, and many types of nuts.
As it turns out, the traditional Thanksgiving meal already contains several foods that are known to fight cancer, among them turkey, sweet potatoes, and cranberries. But there are ways to add even more cancer-fighting ingredients to your holiday recipes — and you might find the recipes more flavorful, too.
Ready for a change? Consider making a few modifications to the traditional Thanksgiving meal to make delicious nutrition a major part of this year’s menu.
A radical suggestion is to replace the traditional turkey with roasted salmon, which is full of healthy Omega-3 fats. For a more festive salmon dish, consider the salmon with cranberry sauce from GeniusKitchen (bonus: cranberries are loaded with super phytonutrients, which help fight inflammation that can lead to diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and cancer) or a rosemary and garlic roasted salmon from Relish.com.
If you must have the bird for the big day, consider a turkey recipe like this one from Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada, which adds cancer-fighting herbs like coriander and fennel.
First things first: A crudité plate in place of chips and dip will supply you and your guests with a healthy start to your Thanksgiving celebration. Broccoli, cauliflower, and other cruciferous veggies are high in carotenoids (beta-carotene, lutein), vitamins C, K, E, folate, and other minerals. Carrots, meanwhile, are rich in antioxidants and high in fiber.
When it comes to the main feast, consider complementing your protein with another cruciferous vegetable: Brussels sprouts. This recipe adds chorizo and cancer-fighting garlic, while this one adds another cancer-pummeling superfood — walnuts. If you prefer a salad, try one with cancer-fighting veggies as spotlighted in Food & Wine’s kale and apple salad with pancetta and candied pecans or fennel and citrus salad with mint.
Starches and sides:
It’s well-known that sweet potatoes, with their lower glycemic index and payload of antioxidants, are better for you than plain white potatoes, but coat anything in enough butter and top it with marshmallows and you negate the healthy benefits pretty quickly. A sweet potato casserole with crunchy oat topping cuts back the butter and sugar and adds cancer-fighting oats and nuts as a topping, while this spice-forward version from Women’s Health omits the butter altogether.
As for the other classic Thanksgiving side dishes, the aforementioned cranberries are packed with antioxidants, but store-bought cranberry sauce is often loaded with sugar. Try making your own, like this orange cranberry sauce from health.com. Martha Stewart’s version adds another cancer-fighting superfood: ginger.
Stuffing is another holiday favorite than can easily be adapted to feature cancer-fighting ingredients. This version from Cooking Light includes whole grain bread and anticancer foods apples and cranberries.
Nuts, berries, citrus, and apples all are on the list of cancer-fighting foods, so consider a dessert that makes use of any of them. An apple-berry pie would fit the bill, as would an apple pie with walnut topping.
Whether your main dish is fish or fowl, go ahead and pour a glass of cabernet with dinner. Resveratrol, aka the antioxidants found in red wine, have been shown to help prevent prostate, skin, and breast cancer. Just remember to take it easy; overdoing it can negate the positive effects of the antioxidants.
Things to Consider:
- Put together a list of cancer-fighting foods for easy reference when shopping and cooking this holiday season.
- Add more fish and cruciferous vegetables to your daily diet.
- Try modifying all of your favorite recipes to include cancer-fighting ingredients.
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