Eating to prevent skin cancer
We all know skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. However, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, did you know melanoma claims the life of one person every hour, and one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime? Statistics like these make skin cancer very real. You might ask, I diligently apply broad spectrum UVA/UVB sweat and water resistant sunscreen every 80 minutes, avoid tanning booths and prolonged exposure to the sun and wear sunglasses, hats and sun protective clothing, I’m covered, right? Wrong. While all these things are important for protecting yourself against skin cancer, there’s one ingredient you’ve been missing: your diet.
Omega-3 fatty acids
When we think of the Mediterranean, images of the sun, crystal clear beaches and bright turquoise homes come to mind. Well, recent findings from a study in the International Journal of Epidemiology concluded diets similar to those of its natives (e.g. fruits, vegetables, fresh herbs, olive oil, and omega-3 fatty acids) have cut the risk of melanoma by 50%. Omega-3 is a rich antioxidant source believed to fight free radicals, cancerous or damaged cells. So, be sure to incorporate oily, fatty fish like salmon, trout, sardines, and mackerel into your weekly diet.
Fruits and veggies
Oranges are good for more than curing a cold, citrusy fruits like: lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruits boost your vitamin C levels, which help create more cancer-fighting antioxidants. Popeye, too, knew what he was doing, when he chomped on spinach. Dark, leafy green and cruciferous vegetables like: collared greens, spinach, beet leaves, kale, broccoli, and cauliflower, when consumed in large amounts all help contribute to fighting melanoma. Additionally, tomatoes or more specifically tomato paste, are a lycopene-rich food which may help prevent sunburn, by protecting the skin from the inside-out. See, mom was right on the money when she told you to eat your fruits and vegetables. Not only do they taste great but also can help prevent skin cancer.
Vitamins and herbs
While fresh is best, sometimes it’s not possible to fit in all your daily requirements. According to Nicholas Perricone, dermatologist and author of The Wrinkle Cure, “in just 30-45 minutes the sun depletes 80% of your body’s vitamin stores.” Help your body out by taking vitamin supplements or adding certain herbs and spices to your diet. Perricone recommends, taking approximately 500 mg of vitamin C, 300 mg of vitamin E, 100 mg of alpha lipoic acid (antioxidant), and 30 mg of coenzyme Q10 (oil-like substance used to carry antioxidants to the heart, liver and kidneys). One common misnomer about wearing sunscreen is it prevents your body from absorbing vitamin D. Not true. According to new research from King’s College London’s Institute of Dermatology, you body produces and absorbs vitamin D, even while wearing sunscreen. If you do feel like you aren’t getting enough vitamin D, there are other options besides soaking up the sun: drinking vitamin D fortified milk or taking extra vitamin D supplements. If you do feel like the sun is the best source, don’t be afraid to slather on the sunscreen!
Here’s something to raise you cup of java to: a correlation between increased coffee intake and a decreased risk of basal cell carcinoma has been found. Additionally, regular exercise, eating healthy and limited exposure to the sun not only helps fuel your body but also protects against skin cancer, especially melanoma. Eating a diet rich in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, fruits, and vegetables all contribute to fighting free radicals, which lowers your risk of cancerous cell growth. So, drink and eat up!
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Lemon Salmon with Garlic Spinach
Recipe reprinted from Dr. David Katz's Flavor-Full Diet
This salmon recipe may be quick and simple, but don't be fooled by the humble appearance—each ingredient packs its own nutritious punch. Whether it's the salmon (omega-3 fatty acids) and olive oil (oleic acid, vitamin E, and flavonoid antioxidants), or the baby spinach (iron, vitamin A, and lutein) and garlic (countless benefits, including lowering overall cholesterol and blood pressure), this dish is no slouch in its impact on your family's health.
Servings: Serves 4
- 4 salmon fillets (about 1 1/2 pounds total; preferably wild Alaskan)
- 4 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 Tbsp. lemon juice
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 cloves garlic , chopped
- 12 ounces baby spinach , rinsed
Line a baking sheet with foil and preheat broiler. If your oven doesn't contain a separate broiler, move rack to 5 to 6 inches below heating element.
Place fish on the baking sheet and drizzle the fillets evenly with 2 teaspoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Broil for 10 to 12 minutes or until cooked through.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and sauté, stirring, for 20 seconds. Add spinach, several handfuls at a time, and toss until each batch wilts and all 12 ounces fit into the skillet. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice.
To serve, divide spinach among 4 plates. Top each with a fillet.
Watermelon and Cashew Nut Smoothie
A nutritious power-packed smoothie, that is perfect for a summer morning breakfast.
- 1 cup almond or soy milk
- 3/4 cup cashew nuts
- 1/2 teaspoon black salt
- 6 cups of cubed watermelon (about 3 pounds)
- Mint Sprigs
Place the almond milk and the cashew nuts in the blender and process into a smooth paste.
- Add in the black salt and the watermelon and pulse a few times and then blend for 3 minutes until smooth and frothy. Please note, if the watermelon has large seeds, these need to be removed before adding.
- Pour the watermelon shake into serving glasses and add a few strands of saffron if desired and garnish with mint springs.
Image Copyright: Radu Bercan/Shutterstock
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