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  • Hui Hui Lee, RD/LD

Fight Against Breast Cancer

(Image credit to National Day Calendar)

Oh boy, this month has just gone too quickly, we are ready half way thru October. October is the breast cancer awareness month. It is a devastating illness and most commonly affects women. All women are at risk of developing breast cancer, and of course some are more vulnerable than others. The risk factors of breast cancer are increasing age, family history, genetics, early onset of menstruation (before 12 years of age), and women who are on hormone replacement therapy.

There are ways to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. A few points to reduce your risk include maintain a healthy weight, be physically active, and adapt healthy eating habits.

Foods that are packed with dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals may have benefits of protecting our cells from developing certain cancers.

Eat a variety of different color non-starchy vegetables: cruciferous, dark leafy vegetables. Eat fruits that are high in antioxidants: berries, citrus fruits, pomegranates. Choose whole grains: quinoa, oats, brown rice, barley, buckwheat. Try legumes as your alternative protein source: beans, peas, lentils, and soy.

I was browsing for a recipe idea that contains all the nutrients I mentioned above and found this wonderful recipe - a colorful beet salad with carrot, quinoa, and spinach. To be honest, I was a little skeptical about adding beets to a salad, but was quite surprised and pleased with the taste. Please refer to Cookie and Kate for the recipe.

Let me break down the nutrient contents of the main ingredients of the recipe.

Beets: the recipe calls for beetroot which is rich in fiber, vitamin C, potassium, dietary nitrate, antioxidant (betalain) (Thalheimer, 2016)Spinach: a dark leafy veggie which is a good source of antioxidants (flavonoid), calcium, potassium, fiber, folate, and vitamins A, C, and K. Not just that, it also is packed with iron and vitamin E. Quinoa: an ancient grain which contains a complete protein. It is also rich in iron and phosphorus (Getz, 2014). Phosphorus is known for strengthening bones/teeth, managing our body’s energy usage/storage, helping muscles contract and recover after exercise, filtering/removing waste from kidneys, and making DNA/RNA (Fletcher, 2019). Edamame: it is a whole, immature soybean. I am sure many of you have heard the bad reputation of soy and breast cancer. It is actually a myth. Soy is well-known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that have benefits over reducing cancer growth and risk. The American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR), the American Cancer Society (ACS), and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) recommend that one to two servings of whole soy foods per day are safe for everyone (including breast cancer survivors and those at high risk of developing breast cancer). NOTE: the recommendation emphasizes whole soy foods such as soymilk (unsweetened), soybeans, tofu, miso, tempeh. The recommendation does not recommend the use of soy protein isolate supplements (Buchan, 2018).


Buchan, K. (2018). Soy and breast cancer: An in-depth review of the research. Today’s Dietitian, 20 (7), 48. Retrieved from

Getz, L. (2014). Enjoying Ancient Grains. Today’s Dietitian, 16 (9), 46. Retrieved from

Fletcher, J. (2019). What are the health benefits of phosphorus. Medical News Today. Retrieved from

National Day Calendar (2019). Logo of breast cancer awareness month [Digital image]. Retrieved from

Thalheimer, J. C. (2016). Ruby Red Produce. Today’s Dietitian, 18 (12), 22. Retrieved from

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