New research suggests women looking to prevent breast cancer after menopause may want to consider dietary changes, including adopting Mediterranean eating habits, to reduce their risk.
According to information published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Greek post-menopausal women who rated highly in terms of researching scores in their consumption of foods that fit with a Mediterranean diet were 22 percent less likely to develop breast cancer during the study than others. Although the diet is not a cure-all for breast cancer, researchers estimate that if all women in their study population had closely adhered to a traditional Mediterranean diet, about 10 percent of the 127 postmenopausal breast cancers in the group would have been avoided.
It has long been believed that a Mediterranean diet has many positive effects on personal health. Although studies have only been conducted on breast cancer thus far, there is also hopeful evidence that the diet may reduce the risk for other cancers, including colon and stomach cancer, as well as reduce the chances for heart disease.
What Is a Mediterranean Diet?
Nations in the Mediterranean region, including Italy, Greece, Turkey, and Spain, have historically had lower rates of heart disease and some cancers, including breast cancer, compared with other European countries and the United States. Researchers believe there is a correlation between the foods Mediterranean people eat and the rates of cancer and other illnesses.
A traditional Mediterranean diet is rich in seafood, heart-healthy fish, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and olive oil. It is relatively low in dairy and red meat products. According to the Mayo Clinic, most if not all major scientific organizations encourage healthy adults to adopt a diet similar to the Mediterranean diet to prevent major chronic diseases.
Those who want to follow a Mediterranean diet can consider the following guidelines.
* Base every meal on the consumption of fruits, vegetables, grains, olive oil, beans, nuts, legumes, seeds, herbs, and spices.
* Consume fish and seafood often, at least two times per week.
* Enjoy moderate portions of poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt daily to weekly.
* Reduce and limit consumption of meats and sweets.
Experts say that if the Mediterranean diet does have a preventative nature toward breast cancer and other illnesses, it is likely due to the antioxidant components of the diet. The Mediterranean diet is rich in antioxidants, which protect cells from damage that may lead to diseases. The diet also helps to promote a healthy body weight, which is instrumental in keeping the body in top form and helping with immune system function.
To get started on the path of healthy Mediterranean eating, enjoy this recipe for Eggplant Dip.
1 medium eggplant
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 small chile pepper, such as jalapeno, seeded and minced (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon salt
Position oven rack about 6 inches from the heat source; preheat broiler.Line a baking pan with foil. Place eggplant in the pan and poke a few holes all over it to vent steam. Broil the eggplant, turning with tongs every 5 minutes, until the skin is charred and a knife inserted into the dense flesh near the stem goes in easily, 14 to 18 minutes. Cool on a cutting board until ready to handle.
Put lemon juice in a medium bowl. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and scrape the flesh into the bowl, tossing with the lemon juice to help prevent discoloring. Add oil and stir with a fork until the oil is absorbed. (It should be a little chunky.) Stir in yogurt, onion, bell pepper, chile pepper (if using), basil, parsley, cayenne and salt.
If the eggplant has a lot of seeds it may be bitter. Add a dash of salt to sweeten the dip.
Serve with whole-wheat crackers, wedges of toasted pita, or fresh vegetable slices.