The Best Diet for Breast Cancer Survivors

Struggling with the side effects of breast cancer treatment and looking for the best diet to support your recovery? You’re not alone. Knowing what to eat can be overwhelming, but with the right diet, you can optimize your health and wellbeing. Get ready to power up with the best diet for breast cancer survivors!

Quick facts: Best Diet For Breast Cancer Survivors

  • ✅ Plant-based diets reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence, according to a 2018 study published in the International Journal of Cancer (Source: International Journal of Cancer).
  • ✅ Eating a healthy diet rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and low in red and processed meat may reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence, according to a 2017 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition).
  • ✅ A 2017 study published in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment found that soy foods may be beneficial for breast cancer survivors in terms of reducing the risk of recurrence (Source: Breast Cancer Research and Treatment).
  • ✅ Studies have shown that increased physical activity may reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence, according to a 2016 study published in the journal Cancer Research (Source: Cancer Research).
  • ✅ Adopting a Mediterranean-style diet may reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence, according to a 2013 study published in the journal Annals of Oncology (Source: Annals of Oncology).


Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer among women and can have a significant impact on a woman’s health and lifestyle. For this reason, diet plays an important role in helping women with breast cancer cope with the physical, mental, and emotional challenges that come along with the diagnosis.

A good diet for breast cancer survivors should include a variety of whole, unprocessed foods rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that support the body’s natural healing process and help reduce inflammation. Eating nutrient-dense foods such as fruits and vegetables as well as plant-based proteins can also help to improve energy levels, reduce fatigue and maintain strong bones. Additionally, limiting processed foods that contain high amounts of sugar, fats or preservatives is advisable to avoid an additional burden on the body’s immune system. It is also important to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day to stay hydrated and reduce inflammation-causing toxins from accumulating in the body.

Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet

Research has shown that plant-based diets can provide immense benefits for breast cancer survivors. Plant-based diets are those that are rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains, and are low in saturated fats and processed foods. Consuming a plant-based diet can help reduce the risk of cancer recurrence, as well as improve overall health.

Let’s discuss further why a plant-based diet is beneficial for breast cancer survivors:

Lower Risk of Recurrence

Studies have shown that a plant-based diet can lower the risk of breast cancer recurrence. The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) recommends a diet composed primarily of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and beans, and low-fat dairy products.

Eating more plant foods also helps to reduce the amount of saturated fats consumed. This is important as too much saturated fat has been linked to an increased risk of developing cancer and other chronic diseases.

Additionally, those on a plant-based diet tend to consume more dietary fiber which helps in regulating the body’s sugar levels. This is important for cancer survivors as high blood sugar levels can cause uncontrolled cell growth—a major factor in causing cancer cells to grow or spread through the body.

Therefore, maintaining a healthy dietary pattern rich in plant foods could help reduce the chance of recurrence or metastasis following diagnosis with breast cancer.

Improved Immune Function

For many breast cancer survivors, a plant-based diet can help manage symptoms and reduce the risk of cancer recurrence. A plant-based diet is one that is largely composed of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.

Eating more plants can improve overall health and provide a variety of beneficial compounds like antioxidants that can help boost your immune system. In particular, foods like citrus fruits and cruciferous vegetables contain plant compounds known for their anti-inflammatory properties which may improve immune response. Eating a balanced selection of these nutrient-dense foods can ensure that you are getting essential vitamins, minerals, and natural anti-cancer compounds to strengthen your body’s defenses against any chance of relapse.

Additionally, fueling up on veggies instead of animal products has been linked to reducing certain markers such as C reactive protein (CRP) which could signify inflammation in the body.

Improved Digestion

Eating a plant-based diet can have numerous benefits for breast cancer survivors. One of the primary benefits is improved digestion. Plant-based diets are rich in fiber, which helps to promote healthy bowel movements and reduce the risk of constipation or other digestive issues. Plant-based sources of fiber also help to feed beneficial bacteria in the gut, promoting a healthy microbiome.

Additionally, plant-based diets can help reduce inflammation throughout the body, which can lead to improvements in digestive health. Eating a variety of plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds can also provide essential vitamins and minerals that have been shown to support digestion and overall health.

Macronutrients to Include

Eating a diet with the right balance of macronutrients can be beneficial for breast cancer survivors and can help them improve their overall health. Macronutrients include carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Each of these components can provide important nutrients to the body and can help you achieve a balanced diet. Let’s look at the different macronutrients and how they can help breast cancer survivors improve their diet:

  • Carbohydrates provide energy and essential vitamins and minerals.
  • Proteins are important for the building and repair of body tissues.
  • Fats provide essential fatty acids and can help with absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.

Healthy Fats

Healthy fats, which include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, are an important macronutrient for breast cancer survivors to include in the diet. Healthy fats provide essential fatty acids, help absorb fat-soluble vitamins, and contribute to overall health. Mono and polyunsaturated fats are considered “good” because they help reduce inflammation and lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Examples of healthy sources of fat that can be included as part of a balanced diet for breast cancer survivors include:

  • Olive oil
  • Nuts and seeds (such as walnuts, pecans, almonds, cashews)
  • Avocado
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Fatty fish such as salmon or tuna.

Protein Sources

Protein is an important part of any diet, but especially so for breast cancer survivors. Protein helps build and repair muscle and supports brain function, both of which are essential for feeling good and maintaining overall health. For breast cancer survivors, it is especially important to ensure that sufficient amounts of protein are included in the diet in order to help with healing from surgery and treatment, and to aid in recovery.

Some of the best sources of protein include:

  • Lean meats like chicken or turkey.
  • Legumes such as beans and lentils.
  • Eggs.
  • Nuts and seeds such as cashews or pumpkin seeds.
  • Dairy products such as yogurt or cottage cheese.
  • Quinoa.
  • Tempeh (fermented soybeans).
  • Tofu (soybean curd).
  • Fish like salmon or trout.

Aim for at least 25-30g of protein per meal/snack throughout the day.

Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are a type of macronutrient that is essential for the daily diet of breast cancer survivors. Complex carbohydrates provide a steady supply of energy and can help keep blood sugar levels stable.

Excellent sources of complex carbohydrates include:

  • Whole grains such as oats, quinoa, barley and brown rice can help foster a sense of satiety and nutrition for breast cancer survivors who may struggle with fatigue or nausea due to treatment side effects.
  • Legumes such as beans and lentils provide important sources of plant-based protein and fiber which helps promote a healthy digestive system.
  • Fruits like apples, oranges, and bananas contain vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, natural sugars, and can help with hydration.
  • Vegetables like leafy greens (spinach or kale), carrots or sweet potatoes are nutrient dense foods that can help boost immunity naturally.

Foods to Avoid

As a breast cancer survivor, there are certain foods that you should avoid in order to stay healthy and minimize the risk of cancer recurrence. While the exact list of foods to avoid may differ from person to person, some of the most commonly recommended items include:

  • Processed and heavily processed meats
  • Refined sugars and grains
  • Deep-fried foods

Let’s take a look at which foods to avoid.

Processed Foods

Processed foods are those that have been changed from their natural state through chemical processing, canning, freezing, dehydration, smoking, and other methods. Many of these foods are high in fat and calories, with added salt and sugar to enhance flavor. Processed foods also tend to be low in essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Eating processed foods should be avoided by breast cancer survivors due to their high levels of fat and preservatives. Eating a diet that is low in fat has been found to reduce the risk of recurrence of breast cancer in post-treatment women. In addition to being high in fat and calories, processed foods often contain other unwanted additives such as trans fats or added sugars which can cause serious health issues when consumed in excess.

All breast cancer patients should focus on eating a healthy diet that includes mostly whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean protein sources while avoiding processed food as much as possible.

Refined Sugars

Refined sugars are simple carbohydrates that the body absorbs very quickly. These sources of simple carbohydrates quickly spike blood sugar, prompting a rapid insulin release from the pancreas. This can increase the risk of cancer-promoting inflammation and cause insulin resistance in some individuals over time. Because of this connection to inflammation and insulin resistance, refined sugars should be avoided for those wanting to reduce their risk of cancer recurrence.

Common sources of refined sugars include white sugar, brown sugar, table sugar, and high fructose corn syrup; all of which should be eliminated from your diet. Instead, opt for natural sweeteners like honey, coconut sugar, or dates as they contain beneficial vitamins and minerals that come with a lower glycemic index than refined sugars.

Red Meat

Red Meat has been a common dietary staple for centuries, but it should be avoided by breast cancer survivors. Studies suggest that consuming red meat on a regular basis may increase the risk of breast cancer recurrence and death.

Red meat includes beef, pork, lamb, and other land-based meats like venison and bison. Instead of red meat, breast cancer survivors are encouraged to eat fish or poultry as their main sources of protein. Additionally, adding more plant-based proteins like beans and legumes into their diets can provide essential nutrients and also reduce their risk for recurrence.

Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is also important to ensure that one is getting all the nutrients they need while avoiding any potential risks associated with eating red meat.

Tips for Success

For breast cancer survivors, a healthy diet plays an important role in their recovery and overall health. Eating the right foods and avoiding processed and refined foods can help patients maintain a healthy weight, reduce their risk of developing further health complications and improve their quality of life.

In this article, we will discuss the tips for a successful diet for breast cancer survivors:

Meal Planning

Meal planning is an important tool for all breast cancer survivors, especially those on a special diet. Meal planning can help to ensure that you’re getting the necessary nutrients to support your health and recovery, and it can also help to make meal times easier and less stressful. Creating a weekly meal plan can be beneficial as it allows you to plan out healthy meals for each day of the week ahead of time.

When creating a meal plan, consider incorporating:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Lean proteins (such as fish and poultry)
  • Low-fat dairy products like Greek yogurt
  • Legumes like beans, nuts and seeds for healthy fats
  • Fiber-rich foods like oats, quinoa and brown rice
  • Anti-inflammatory foods such as garlic, turmeric, ginger and dark leafy greens
  • Healthy beverages such as water or unsweetened tea

Avoiding processed foods is also key when eating for breast cancer recovery.

Eating Out

When it comes to eating out, the best diet for breast cancer survivors is all about making smart choices. Choose nutrient-dense options such as grilled fish or chicken, fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grain breads and pastas. It’s also important to be aware of calorie counts as well as portion size. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about ingredients used in dishes or request modifications if needed.

And when it comes to drinks, try to limit your intake of sugar-sweetened beverages like soda and iced tea, and opt for water instead. To keep on track with your diet goals when eating out, bring along a copy of your meal plan so you can make sure everything you choose fits in with your overall eating strategy.

Grocery Shopping

Grocery shopping is a key part of staying healthy and managing diet for breast cancer survivors. Many people plan their meals in advance so they don’t become overwhelmed while grocery shopping. It is important to make sure that the food you buy is not only nutritious, but also enjoyable and suitable for your daily diet.

When shopping at the grocery store, it’s important to stick to the outside perimeter of the store first and fill your cart with whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and low-fat dairy products. Avoid processed foods as much as possible; these contain high amounts of sodium and unhealthy fats that can be detrimental to breast cancer survivors. Eating whole foods like nuts and seeds can help you stay full for long periods of time throughout the day. If a product says “low-fat,” read through the labels before buying it—low-fat products are often filled with sugars or other added ingredients that may not be beneficial for your health.


The best diet for breast cancer survivors is one that is tailored to their individual needs, preferences and health goals. It should include lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats. Additionally, it should contain plenty of dietary fiber from cereals, legumes and nuts to help regulate blood sugar levels and reduce inflammation.

It is important to maintain a healthy weight or even lose a few pounds to lessen the risk of cancer recurrence. Finally, including some anti-cancer foods into your diet such as turmeric, green tea and cruciferous vegetables can provide additional protection against breast cancer. Eating a variety of nutrient-rich foods can help you achieve optimal health and reduce the risk of other chronic diseases.

FAQs about: Best Diet For Breast Cancer Survivors

Q: What types of foods should breast cancer survivors eat?

A: Breast cancer survivors should focus on including a variety of healthy foods in their diet, such as fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats. Eating a variety of nutrient-dense foods can help provide the body with the essential vitamins and minerals it needs to stay healthy.

Q: Are certain foods known to help prevent breast cancer recurrence?

A: Yes, there are certain foods that may help to reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence. Examples of foods that may help to reduce the risk include cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower and broccoli, and foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, chia seeds, and flaxseeds.

Q: Are there any foods that should be avoided by breast cancer survivors?

A: Breast cancer survivors should avoid processed foods and foods that are high in sugar and saturated fat, as these can increase risk factors for cancer recurrence. Additionally, foods that are high in sodium should be limited, as they can cause dehydration and interfere with treatments.

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