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Plants and Breast Cancer

Charlyn Fargo on

Consider a plant-forward diet to help reduce your risk of breast cancer. That's the finding from a new French research study, presented at the recent annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition.

For the study, more than 65,000 French female participants (average age 53) completed nutritional questionnaires in 1993 and again in 2005.

The women were classified as following either a mostly animal-based diet or a diet that's mostly plant-based. Researchers found that those who consumed a healthy, primarily plant-based diet saw their risk for developing any type of breast cancer drop by an average of 14%.

What's interesting about this study is that breast cancer risk fell only among women whose diets included significant amounts of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, vegetable oils, tea and coffee -- even if red meat and poultry occasionally were part of their plates.

But there were no protective benefits seen among older women whose primarily plant-based diet had a heavy reliance on fruit juices, refined grains, sugar-sweetened beverages and desserts. That type of diet, although plant-based, raised breast cancer risk by about 20%.

What we eat matters, whether it's plant-forward or not, and in particular, how much fiber is included in your diet. Researchers explained that the high fiber content of the healthier plant-based diet helped lower cancer risk due to anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.

 

Q and A

Q: What are some of the health benefits of flaxseed?

A: Flaxseed is high in dietary fiber (helpful in preventing constipation) and contains the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (considered a healthy fat that helps reduce cholesterol and prevent hardening of the arteries). Flaxseed also contains phytoestrogen compounds called lignans that may be health-promoting. Additionally, flaxseed may have anti-inflammatory properties. Mix it in your oatmeal, add it to a smoothie or sprinkle over yogurt.

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