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What’s cooking? Holiday meals can be stress free and nutrient packed

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Rio Grande Cancer Foundation
Rio Grande Cancer Foundation
Rio Grande Cancer Foundation
  Ted Escobedo   3 min read 7 years ago

What’s cooking? Holiday meals can be stress free and nutrient packed

Preparing a holiday dinner can be an overwhelming task for any seasoned cook.

But what happens when one of your guests is undergoing cancer treatments?

Radiation and chemotherapy, which are used to fight mesothelioma and other cancers, can alter the patient’s sense of taste and appetite, making some foods unappetizing. Other patients experience difficulty swallowing and must only eat pureed foods.

Also, those treatments can be draining on a person’s body and energy level. Making sure a cancer patient eats the right kind of foods before and after undergoing treatment is extremely important to their overall health.

While it may seem like a daunting task, reworking tasty, cancer-fighting superfoods like mushrooms, pumpkins and cranberries into your Thanksgiving menu is easier than it sounds. By adding a few key items, you’ll make your feast patient-approved, while preserving holiday traditions.

Holiday Foods That Fight Cancer

Mushrooms and Pomegranates

Mushrooms and pomegranates contain substances that help block the hormones that make breast cancer grow and spread. According to the American Cancer Society, shiitake mushrooms fight the development and progression of cancer by boosting the body’s immune system.

They contain a compound called lentinan, which some studies show can stop or reduce tumor growth. Other studies show activated hexose-containing compound, also found in mushrooms, can reduce tumor activity and lessen the side effects of cancer treatment.

Food for Thought: Try marinating some shiitake mushrooms and including them as a Thanksgiving side dish or prepare them into savory mushroom gravy. Gravy by itself doesn’t provide much nutritional value, but adding mushrooms boosts health benefits. Plus, it makes a delicious topping on biscuits or brown rice.

Antioxidant-rich pomegranates also can help those battling cancer. A study published in Cancer Prevention Research shows doctors discovered six compounds in pomegranates that may prevent breast cancer growth by blocking aromatase, an enzyme that plays a key role in most breast cancers.

Researchers show compounds in pomegranate juice may slow the growth of prostate and breast cancer cells.

Food for Thought: Did you know that one serving of cranberries provides at least 10 percent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C and fiber, both of which are linked to reducing the risk of esophageal and colon cancer? Consider adding pomegranates to your homemade cranberry sauce or as a topping on a spinach salad. If you’re looking for a unique healthy beverage to add to your menu, try pomegranate juice.

Orange Foods Pass the Cancer-Fighting Test

While this fall squash is most commonly associated with Halloween, delicious-tasting lattes and seasonal beer, research shows pumpkins have many health benefits for cancer patients.

Beta-carotene, the pigment responsible for pumpkins’ bright-orange color, is a powerful antioxidant praised for its possible cancer-fighting power. Research shows people who eat a diet rich in beta-carotene may have a lower risk of colon, prostate and lung cancer.

Pumpkin also contains high amounts of vitamins A and C, antioxidants that help boost your immune system, and it’s rich in fiber, which slows down digestion and keeps you feeling fuller longer. Additionally, pumpkin seeds contain phytoestrogens, a plant compound that mimics estrogen and can help prevent breast cancer.

Food for Thought: Instead of serving traditional pumpkin pie, try incorporating creamy pumpkin and curry cashew or a simple fresh pumpkin puree.

Sweet potatoes contain powerful antioxidants known as carotenoids, which boost your immune system and provide vitamin A. Experts say eating one cup of sweet potatoes a week could help reduce your risk of skin, prostate and lung cancers.

Food for Thought: Why not try making a sweet potato casserole with cinnamon and nutmeg? Cinnamon gives your dish added flavor. It’s also used to treat Type 2 diabetes and reduce the risk of colon cancer.

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