17 Foods that Prevent Breast Cancer

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Have you been diagnosed with breast cancer and are in search of foods that fight against cancer?

Or perhaps you’re just trying to prevent cancer naturally, but you’re not sure how.

Can you even prevent breast cancer with food? 

In this article, we’ll crown the top 17 foods that prevent breast cancer.

And we’ll also explain what to avoid and how else you can fight breast cancer.

Keep reading to find out what you should’ve been doing all along.

This article may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase, we may get a commission at no cost to you. This helps us provide high quality content.

What is Breast Cancer?

According to the Mayo Clinic, breast cancer is a growth that forms when a breast cancer cell divides out of control.

And since early breast cancer diagnosis is key in women, cancer screening is everything.

Once you’re diagnosed, you’re also typically tested to see if your estrogen receptors are involved.

And you may be told you have estrogen receptor positive breast cancer, Her2 positive or negative breast cancer.

Although this drives your treatment, we will stick to breast cancer as an umbrella term in this article.

Nutrition and Breast Cancer

Studies show that eating a healthy diet can help lower breast cancer risks.

And lower risk is the key to a healthy life.

Thus, recent cancer research has looked at the largely plant based Mediterranean diet.

It’s packed with:

  • Fiber
  • Healthy Proteins
  • Essential Fatty Acids
  • Antioxidants
  • Plant Compounds
  • Vitamins & Minerals

In fact, a study published in 2021 showed that it can prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease and protect against cancer.

And clinical trials show it can lower inflammation and keep your immune system strong.

Our 17 foods that prevent breast cancer are all examples of the Mediterranean diet.

And they’re all powerhouses that help protect your body so you don’t develop breast cancer.

17 Foods that Prevent Breast Cancer

1. Garlic

Garlic is an allium vegetable with amazing health benefits.

It’s full of powerful organo-sulfides such as alliin, di and trisulfides, and ajoenes.

And strong phenolic antioxidants such as quercetin.

Moreover, research has shown that it fights inflammation, infection, heart disease, diabetes, and breast cancer.

To eat alliums mix them raw in dip, pesto, and salsa, or gently heat in stir-fries and casseroles. 

2. Pumpkin

Pumpkin or winter squash is related to butternut squash as well as to cucumber and zucchini.

And although not a relative, sweet potato is another powerhouse food worth mentioning.

They’re all high in a group of strong antioxidants called carotenoids that fight inflammation, heart disease, and cancer.

In fact, a recent study found that carotenoids in pumpkin led to lower breast cancer risk in high-risk individuals. 

Fill your favorite pumpkin with rice, mushrooms, and lentils, and bake in the oven, or add to smoothies.

3. Purple Cauliflower

Person holding purple cauliflower outside.
Photo credit: Kindel Media | Pexels.

Purple cauliflower is rich in anthocyanin which gives it its lovely hue.

It’s a cruciferous vegetable related to broccoli, cabbage, and kale, rich in bioactive compounds.

Two of those are sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinole. 

And they help fight inflammation, heart disease, and many forms of cancer, including breast cancer.

In food, they are great gently steamed, or added to stir-fries and casseroles.

4. Swiss Chard

Person in apron holding plate of Swiss chard.
Photo credit: Maria Verkhoturtseva |Pexels.

Swiss chard, arugula, celery, lettuce, and spinach are all leafy green vegetables.

And they’re high in the antioxidants beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which can lower breast cancer risk.

Green leafy vegetables are great in salads, but can also be stir-fried or added to smoothies.

5. Blood Oranges

Cut blood oranges on wood cutting board on blue background.
Photo credit: Pexels.

Blood oranges along with lemons, grapefruit, mandarins, and regular oranges are citrus fruits.  

But blood oranges have more anthocyanin antioxidants that give them their red color.

Citrus fruits are also rich in the flavonoids naringin and hesperidin.

And they support the immune system, fight inflammation, and prevent breast cancer.

Blood oranges can be eaten fresh, added to salads and marinades, or mixed in smoothies or juices.

6. Blueberries

Blueberries especially wild blueberries and açai are among the foods richest in anthocyanins.

And anthocyanins are strong antioxidants that give blueberries their blue color.

But blueberries also have good amounts of the flavonoids kaempferol and quercetin.

These antioxidants work wonders for the digestive system, brain, heart and blood vessels, and skin.

Moreover, they’re anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, and protect against breast cancer.

7. Pomegranate

Cut pomegranate in blue ceramic bowl on wood table.
Photo credit: Skylar Kang | Pexels.

Pomegranate is a colorful round fruit filled with juicy edible seeds.

Other colorful fruits include apples, mango, peaches, pears, and grapes.

But pomegranate is especially rich in antioxidants, particularly vitamin C, anthocyanins, punicalagin, and ellagic acid.

And these very strong antioxidants fight inflammation, heart disease, diabetes, and breast cancer.  

To eat a pomegranate, cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, and use them in salads, marinades, and hummus.

Or put them in our favorite Vitamix blender to make a smoothie.

8. Low-Fat Kefir

Fermented low fat dairy products such as yogurt and kefir play an important part in a healthy diet.

Kefir is a cultured milk product with more beneficial bacteria than yogurt.

Its main antioxidants include vitamin A, carotenoids, sulfur-containing amino acids, and whey protein.

And therefore, it’s beneficial for the gut, anti-inflammatory, and may fight breast cancer.

9. Chili Pepper

Herbs and spices are generally regarded as anti-inflammatory cancer fighters.

And chili peppers, in particular, are loaded with antioxidants and plant compounds.

One of those is capsaicin which could play a role in fighting breast cancer.

Add dried basil, mint, parsley, rosemary, and a pinch of chili or cayenne pepper to foods or mix fresh herbs in salads.

10. Turmeric

Turmeric roots and powder in small bowl and on table with spoon and ginger.
Photo credit: Karl Solano | Pexels.

Turmeric just like ginger is a flowering plant whose rhizome is used medicinally.

Turmeric is high in curcumin which has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cancer-fighting properties.  

Add turmeric and ginger to smoothies, teas, and your favorite stir fry or casserole.

PRO TIP!

Curcumin is poorly absorbed, but by adding black pepper you can drastically increase it.

11. Soybeans

Soybeans and soy foods such as soy milk, tofu, miso, and tempeh are high in the antioxidants genistein and daidzein.

And although they’ve caused a stir in the past, current data tells a different story.

In fact, eating soy reduces the risk of breast cancer in pre- and postmenopausal women. 

And consequently, breast cancer survivors shouldn’t be afraid to eat soy foods in moderation.

12. Maitake Mushrooms

Maitake mushroom up close on marble.
© Heselholt Group, LLC.

Maitake mushrooms or hen-of-the-woods are edible fungi with an earthy sweetish flavor.

Other mushrooms include white button, portobello, reishi, shiitake, and turkey tail.

They’re rich in a polysaccharide called beta-glucan.

And beta-glucan is anti-inflammatory, protects heart health, and may prevent breast cancer.  

To eat mushrooms, pan-fry with canola oil, chives, and garlic or put in casseroles.

13. Walnuts

Although almonds, hazelnuts, and flax- and chia seeds are amazingly healthy, walnuts are the star of all.

They’re higher in antioxidants and essential omega-3 fatty acids than any other tree nut.

And they’re high in melatonin, plant sterols, phenolic acids, flavonoids, and tannins.

Furthermore, they have impressive heart health, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties.

Thus, adding about 1-2 handfuls of walnuts per day in salads, pesto, or smoothies may help prevent breast cancer

14. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive oil or EVOO is the healthiest, most flavorful, and least processed olive oil of all varieties.

And it has the most polyphenols such as oleuropein and hydroxytyrosol.

They’re powerhouse antioxidants that fight free radical damage that otherwise can result in cancer.  

EVOO also stimulates the immune system and prevents heart disease, and is anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic.

Thus, EVOO is consistent with a lower risk of breast cancer.

15. Barramundi

Plated barramundi with leafy vegetables.
Photo credit: Farhad Ibrahimzade | Pexels.

Barramundi or Asian Sea Bass is a mildly sweet and buttery-flavored white fish.

It’s sustainably farmed and largely toxin-free.  

And compared to salmon, it packs about a quarter of the omega-3 fatty acids in half the calories.

Omega-3s reduce inflammation and heart disease, protect the brain, and prevent breast cancer.

Thus, it can be a leaner alternative to salmon even though it’s not technically a fatty fish.

16. Purple Rice

Purple rice in bowl on table.
© Heselholt Group, LLC.

Purple rice, barley, oats, and quinoa are whole grains, meaning they consist of all layers of a kernel.

Because of that, they’re packed with fiber and nutrients making them real nutritional powerhouses.

Purple rice perhaps the most amazing whole grain gets its purple color from the powerful antioxidant anthocyanin. 

Furthermore, it boosts the healthful compounds quercetin, carotenes, tocopherols, plant sterols, and stanols.

And that strong antioxidant power helps lower the risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and breast cancer

17. Green tea

Green tea is made by steeping the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant.

The main bioactive component in green tea is the powerful antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG. 

EGCG is a polyphenol that can protect the brain and liver, reduce inflammation, and prevent breast cancer.

Bonus: Breast Cancer Diet Plan PDF

To get your bonus breast cancer diet plan based on 17 foods that prevent breast cancer, click on the image below.

Click to open!

Foods to Avoid with Breast Cancer

The best foods for cancer patients to avoid are inflammatory, low-nutrient, and high-calorie foods.

And they include things like sodas, fast foods, and chips. See the table below for more examples.  

Foods to AvoidExamples
Added SugarsSodas, juices, desserts, candy
Fast & Fried FoodsPizza, chicken nuggets, fries, doughnuts
Refined FoodsFrozen meals, instant noodles, crackers, chips
Red & Processed MeatsSteak, burgers, hot dogs, sausages
Foods that may increase risk of breast cancer.

Eating them carries an increased risk of:

  • Weight gain which leads to higher estrogen and insulin levels
  • Weaker immune system
  • Poorly defended cells more prone to developing breast cancer

How to Prevent Breast Cancer Naturally

Besides food, the causes of breast cancer include many lifestyle behaviors.

And to prevent breast cancer naturally, the American Cancer Society suggests a breast cancer diet and exercise routine. 

That lowers hormone levels and keeps the immune system healthy, which reduces the risk.

The table below gives more details on prevention.

Guidance on Cancer Risk FactorsHow It Can Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
Stay lean throughout lifeLess estrogen and insulin
Exercise dailyLower estrogen and insulin levels, healthier immune system
Avoid tobacco and alcohol  No toxic chemicals, less estrogen, healthier immune system
Avoid meats grilled on high heat over open flamesNo cancer-causing chemicals
Foods that may reduce risk of cancer.

What Are 5 Ways to Prevent Breast Cancer?

5 ways to prevent breast cancer are:

  1. Stay at a healthy body weight throughout life
  2. Eat plenty of brightly colored fruits & veggies
  3. Include daily whole grains, beans & peas, healthy proteins & fats
  4. Avoid processed foods, red meat, tobacco & alcohol
  5. Exercise daily

Answers to Common Questions

What Is a Breast Cancer Nutritionist?

A cancer nutritionist is a registered dietitian that is board-certified in cancer.

While a breast cancer nutritionist sees patients only for breast cancer nutrition.

But unless you’re in a major cancer center, it can be hard to find a nutrition breast cancer specialist.

What’s the Best Food for Breast Cancer Patients During Chemotherapy?

The best food for breast cancer patients during chemotherapy is different than during survivorship.

During treatment, it’s more important to stay a healthy weight which helps you go through breast cancer treatment.

Thus, during treatment eat normally, and then when it’s complete, focus on breast cancer prevention.

Of course, always check with your medical team before making any changes to your diet.

What’s the Best Diet for Breast Cancer Survivors?

The best diet during breast cancer survivorship is the largely plant-based Mediterranean diet.

It includes:

  • DAILY Whole grains, fruits & veggies, herbs & spices, beans & peas, nuts & seeds, and healthy fats
  • TWICE WEEKLY Fish & seafood
  • MODERATE Low fat dairy products, eggs, and lean chicken & turkey

If you want to, add nutritious smoothies to boost your fruit and veggie intake.

Aim for:

  • 1.5-2 cups of fruit
  • 2-3 cups of vegetables
  • 3 servings of whole grains daily

Are There Miracle Foods that Cure Breast Cancer?

No, unfortunately, there is no breast cancer killer juice you can drink that can cure breast cancer.

And although people ask us what foods kill breast cancer cells, no such foods exist.

Instead, being healthy as this article suggests is how to stop breast cancer from growing.

What Kind of Food Causes Breast Cancer?

No food directly causes breast cancer, but eating processed food increases the risk.

That is, they have indirect effects on the body that increases the risk.

Are There Breast Cancer Foods to Avoid Estrogen Positive?

Estrogen positive breast cancer foods to avoid are the same for other forms of breast cancer.

Thus, there isn’t specifically an estrogen-positive breast cancer diet or foods that fight estrogen positive breast cancer.

What’s the Best Food for Breast Pain?

Breast pain can be caused by many things and the best food can vary from person to person.

Therefore, it’s important to get a diagnosis from your health care clinic.

However, chocolate, coffee, tea, and carbonated sodas can make breast pain worse.

In addition, a low-fat diet high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and physical activity can help.

Where Can I Find Breast Cancer Diet Recipes?

If you’re a survivor trying to prevent cancer, try sites like the Mediterranean diet, Olive Tomato, or Fred Hutch.

And you can learn more from our previous articles on anti inflammatory foods and smoothies.  

Or if you’re going through treatment and are struggling, see clinical resources from the National Cancer Institute.

Final Thoughts

No single food can directly fight against cancer.

Prevention is about what you eat on a daily basis and not a single food.

However, a healthy diet can lead to a reduced risk.

An example of a healthy diet is the largely plant-based Mediterranean diet.

It’s packed with fiber, healthy fats, antioxidants, plant compounds, vitamins, and minerals. 

And of the 17 foods that prevent breast cancer, it’s best to eat as many as you can on a daily basis. 

They keep your immune system strong, lower inflammation, and reduce free radical damage.

All of which can defend against breast cancer development.

DISCLAIMER

Our 17 foods that prevent breast cancer article is for general information. We don’t provide medical advice and this isn’t an individual meal plan. It’s based on medically reviewed evidence on prevention of cancer breast cancer specifically. See your cancer care clinic for further advice.

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2 thoughts on “17 Foods that Prevent Breast Cancer”

  1. Hi Doctor , it’s a great pleasure to know how I can improve my lifestyle through the above mentioned foods and by having a proper diet .Thanks a lot for these resourceful and valuable nformation that can help us avoid a toll on our health . These information is WORTH sharing for the benefits of mankind and cancer patients wellbeing . Thanks

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