Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. FoodFacts.com has always felt that Hippocrates had the right idea! We’re always thrilled to learn about how the foods we consume can have a positive influence on our health and well being. And we’re especially excited to discover that simple additions of fresh, healthy food to our diet can help us avoid chronic and often fatal illness.
A recent study from the researchers at Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School has shown that women with high levels of carotenoids (naturally occurring plant chemicals) have a significantly lower risk of breast cancer.
While we know that diets high in fruits and vegetables have a positive influence on the risk of many different cancers, this particular link to those that are high in carotenoids offer specific benefits for women.
We’ve often heard the advice that “It’s best to eat in color”. This is certainly the case here. Carotenoids are pigements that give vegetables and fruits deep yellow, orange and red hues. Carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, winter squash, apricots, mangoes and papyas are all great examples of foods high in carotenoids.
The researchers conducted a meta-analysis of data from 8 different studies that included 7,000 women. They discovered that the women whose blood levels were in the top 20 percent for carotenoids were 15 to 20 percent less likely to develop breast cancer than those women whose carotenoid levels were in the bottom 20 percent. Most impressive, thought, was that the link between higher carotenoid levels in the blood was the strongest for the most aggressive, lethal forms of breast cancer.
Researchers noted that it seemed to be a linear relationship. The higher the levels of caretonoids in the blood, the lower the risk of breast cancer.
While more research is needed to discover the specific reason for the link, researchers hypothesize that the body may metabolize carotenoids into retinol, which may inhibit tumor growth.
It was noted in the study that the most effective way to boost carotenoid levels in the blood is through food consumption, not supplementation. They clearly felt that increasing fruit and vegetable intake is the best way to receive the health benefits of carotenoids and perhaps decrease the risk of breast cancer.
There are so many wonderful fruits and vegetables in beautiful colors. FoodFacts.com honestly has a difficult time deciding which ones to include in our diets first. Whichever you choose, enjoy them in good health, knowing that the rich bounty of colorful, carotenoid-containing produce may help us decrease our odds of developing a deadly disease.