As if you needed another reason to eat up your fruits and veggies—you know, beyond improving gut health, keeping your peepers strong, and just generally being delicious—the nutrient-rich ingredients can help your body stave off certain illnesses and diseases. And according to new research, more is more when it comes to serving size for reducing your risk of breast cancer.
In a large study published in the International Journal of Cancer, researchers analyzed health data from more than 180,000 women over a 32-year period. After giving the participants diet questionnaires every four years, researchers found those who ate more than 5.5 servings of fruit and veggies a day had an 11 percent reduced risk of breast cancer compared to the women who ate 2.5 or fewer servings each day. Even more notable is that the produce was particularly successful in lowering the risk of the more aggressive forms of breast cancer, like ER-negative, HER2-enriched, and basal-like tumors. Lead study author Maryam Farvid, PhD, says this research gives the “most complete picture of the importance of consuming high amounts of fruit and vegetables for breast cancer prevention,” Science Daily reports
Those who ate more than 5.5 servings of fruit and veggies a day had an 11 percent reduced risk of breast cancer compared to the women who ate 2.5 or fewer servings a day.
So, what do you need to know in order to reap the cancer-fighting benefits yourself? Probably most crucially, what constitutes a serving size, so you can plan your meals accordingly: “one cup of raw leafy vegetables, half a cup of raw or cooked vegetables, or half a cup of chopped or cooked fruits,” as defined by the report. Also, be sure to load up on cruciferous veggies (like broccoli, cabbage, kale, and cauliflower) as well as yellow and orange veggies (like bell peppers, corn, carrots, and sweet potatoes), which were particularly impressive at reducing the participants’ risk.
Use these findings as inspiration to get creative in the kitchen and sneak in some extra produce whenever you can, whether it’s in your morning smoothie or your Instant Pot dinner. All the fiber and antioxidants can pay off in more ways than one.
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