Foods that Can Help Lower Breast Cancer Risk 

Healthy Vegetables Fight Cancer

Many people are unaware of the important role nutrition plays in fighting off breast cancer and all chronic diseases. A growing body of research highlights diet’s role in not only lowering the risk of developing breast cancer, but warding off re-occurrence, too.

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I’m sharing my top picks for cancer-fighting foods. Take a look at the following list and aim to regularly consume a wide variety of these nutrient-dense foods.

Whole Grains – Whole grains are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals and natural plant compounds that help fight cancer.1 Have three a day. Good sources of whole grains include:

  • Brown and wild rice
  • Oatmeal
  • Whole-wheat pasta and bread
  • Whole- wheat cereal flakes
  • Corn
  • Whole grain snacks including whole grain crackers, tortillas and bagels and popcorn. Yes, popcorn!

Fiber – Research has found that fiber helps reduce the risk of breast cancer by lowering the amount of estrogen in the body. In fact, a study reported in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that those who consumed the most fiber had an 11 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer compared to women who ate the least. Aim to consume 30 grams of fiber a day. Good sources for fiber include:

  • Vegetables like romaine lettuce, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower,  broccoli and sweet potatoes
  • Pinto beans, black beans, lentils and kidney beans
  • Brown rice, oatmeal, kashi cereals, whole-wheat pasta, whole-wheat bread and tortillas

Vitamin D – Studies have revealed a strong link between vitamin D and breast cancer.3 Women with breast cancer often have low levels of vitamin D and those with higher vitamin D levels have been found less likely to develop breast cancer. Good sources of vitamin D include:

  • Fatty fish including salmon, trout, mackerel, tuna, and canned tuna
  • Vitamin D-fortified milk, orange juice and cereals
  • Egg yolk
  • Fish oils
  • Omega-3 supplements fortified with extra vitamin D

Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Research suggests omega-3s reduce inflammation which can encourage breast cancer cells to grow.4 Good sources include:

  • Chia seeds and ground flaxseed
  • Walnuts and walnut oil
  • Canola oil and soy oil
  • Edamames

Folate – Those with higher folate (a vitamin B) levels have been found to have more than a 40 percent lower risk of breast cancer than those with the lowest folate levels.5  To reach a healthy level of folate, try to consume 400 micrograms of folate each day. Good sources include:

  • Lentils
  • Kidney beans, black beans
  • Leafy greens like spinach, kale and arugula
  • Fortified cereals , breads, rice, pasta

Don’t forget that it is your total lifestyle that counts the most – your entire eating pattern of lean meats, healthy oils, whole-grains, colorful beans, fruit, and  vegetables, and low-fat dairy – combined with a healthy weight and regular exercise ( 150 minutes a week), a healthy attitude about life, and relaxation or happy events you plan daily. A  handful of healthy food choices help but nothing compares to a healthy re-vamped TOTAL style of eating and living everyday!  What is good for your whole body helps prevent cancer and energizes your life.


  1. Health Benefits with Whole Grains. Journal of Nutrition, May 2011;141(5):1011S-22S. Epub March 30, 2011
  2. Dietary fiber intake and risk of breast cancer: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2011.
  3. Intake of fish and marine n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and risk of breast cancer. BMJ 2013; 346 doi: 27 June 2013.
  4. Folate, vitamin B12 and postmenopausal breast cancer in a prospective study of French women. Cancer Causes Control. Nov 2006; 17(9): 1209–1213.


RECIPE: Grilled Salmon & Vegetable Packets

Recipe & Tips reprinted from Tufts Health & Nutrition Newsletter Jan 27, 2014


Cooking fish and vegetables together in a foil packet on the grill is an excellent technique for healthy outdoor cooking. Because the food is cooked by the steam, which develops in the packet, you don’t have to be concerned about potentially harmful carcinogens and Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs; see March, 2010 issue of the Tufts Health & Nutrition Newsletter) that form when food is charred on a grill. What’s more, this cooking method delivers lots of flavor with a minimum of fat, and cleanup is a breeze. It is also a great way to incorporate colorful vegetables into your entrée. In this recipe, a savory Asian glaze enhances richly-flavored salmon. Round out this simple meal with brown rice or quinoa.


  • 3 cups sliced (1/2 inch-wide ribbons) napa cabbage
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 3 tsp minced fresh ginger (divided)
  • 1 tsp minced garlic (divided)
  • 2 1/2 tsp reduced-sodium soy sauce, divided
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tsp rice vinager
  • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 8 ounces salmon fillets or archic char, skin removed (see Tip), cut into 2 portions
  • 1 tbsp chopped scallion whites


  • Preheat grill to medium-high. Cut two 12 x 16-inch sheets of aluminum foil. Fold each one in half to form a 12 x 8-inch rectangle.
  • Combine napa, bell pepper, 1 tsp ginger, ½ tsp garlic, 1 tsp soy sauce, and sesame oil in large bowl; toss to coat.
  • Mix hoisin sauce, vinegar, crushed red pepper, remaining 2 tsp ginger, remaining ½ tsp garlic, and remaining 1 ½ tsp soy sauce in small bowl.
  • Open a foil rectangle. Spray half of the rectangle with cooking spray. Place half of the vegetable mixture on sprayed side of rectangle. Top with a piece of fish. Spread half of the hoisin sauce mixture over fish. Sprinkle with half of the scallions. Fold the other half of the foil rectangle over to enclose contents. Seal packet. Repeat with remaining ingredients to make 1 more packet.
  • If using a gas grill, turn off one of the burners. If using a charcoal grill, push hot coals to one side of the grill. Place packets on unheated portion of grill. Cover grill and cook packets over indirect heat for 12 to 15 minutes, depending on thickness of fish, or until packets are puffed and fish just begins to flake. (When you open a packet to check for doneness, be careful of steam.) To serve, use a wide spatula to transfer contents of each packet to a plate. Spoon vegetables around fish and pour any accumulated juices over fish.

Yield: 2 servings.

  • Per serving (with wild Coho salmon): Calories: 262. Total fat: 10 grams. Saturated fat: 2 grams. Cholesterol: 57 milligrams. Sodium: 449 milligrams. Carbohydrates: 12 grams: Fiber: 3 grams. Protein: 30 grams.
  • Per serving (with Atlantic farmed salmon): Calories: 284. Total fat: 15 grams. Saturated fat: 3 grams. Cholesterol: 63 milligrams. Sodium: 457 milligrams. Carbohydrates: 12 grams: Fiber: 3 grams. Protein: 25 grams.
  • Tip: You can ask the fish counter to remove the fish skin for you. But it is easy to trim the skin yourself. Place salmon fillet, skin-side down, on cutting board. Use paper towel to grasp the edge of salmon skin with your free hand. Holding a chef’s knife at a 45º angle towards skin, ease knife forward to separate skin from flesh. 
  • Tip: If the weather is not suited to outdoor cooking, you can cook the packets (use foil or parchment paper) in a 400ºF-oven for 15 to 17 minutes.
  • Shopping for Salmon: Seafood Watch at the Monterey Bay Aquarium lists wild-caught Alaskan salmon as a “Best Choice” because of the clean waters in its habitat and carefully managed fishery practices. Most farmed Atlantic salmon, on the other-hand, falls into the “Avoid” category because of high levels of PCBs, and the farms’ harmful effect on the environment and wild salmon population. If using farmed salmon, be sure to trim skin and fatty portions because that is where the contaminants collect. For more information on sustainable seafood, check out web sites, such as ( and Resource Defense Council


Savor Summer with Smart Grilling Tips

Grilled Vegetables

Summer is in full swing. What better time to take advantage of the season than firing up the grill for a summer cookout while taking advantage of the season’s freshest ingredients.

To ensure your summer BBQ is flavorful and healthy, follow these simple tips:

  • Experiment with Marinades: You can add a lot of flavor without adding too many calories, salt, sugar and fat. In fact, spicing up your meat not only helps with flavor but can also make it healthier. Spices and herbs high in antioxidants and ingredients with Vitamin C help get rid of harmful HCAs (heterocyclic amines) formed when meat fat drips on a hot grill. So be sure to add lemon juice , orange juice or pineapple juice to your marinade, as well as great plant seasonings  such as thyme, rosemary, oregano, sage, garlic or onion. Toss out used marinade. Never add it to a cooked food.
  • Trim Fat: Before firing up your grill, take the time to remove excess fat from m Buying lean beef or pork or lamb cuts will also help eliminate some of the saturated fats consumed. Lean cuts include flank steak, pork or beef tenderloin, skirt steak, fat- trimmed leg of lamb, or lean ground beef.
  • Go for Seafood: The grill is not just for meat. It’s a delicious and healthy way to cook seafood, too. Opt for lighter marinades that won’t overpower the taste of your seafood. Firm fish, such as tuna, salmon or snapper prove to be much better options for grilling as opposed to delicate, flaky fish like cod and tilapia. Firmer fish do much better with the high heat of the grill and smoky flavor. For shellfish, like shrimp or scallops, choose jumbo varieties and consider using a basket or skewers, which handle better on the grill.
  • Add vegetables: Add vegetables to the grill every chance you can. They are delicious and you won’t have to worry about overcooking. Add a little olive or canola oil to your veggies or marinade them. Make kabobs, using half meat and half vegetables . Grill extra veggies on the grill, in foil, or in a grilling basket to enjoy tomorrow as a side, snack or add to a salad or sandwich. Grill ears of corn in their husk (after soaking in water to prevent burning). Get creative. Grill romaine lettuce leaves, whole onions, pineapple or peach slices – all rich in flavor.

For some creative ideas, check out the recipes below for some of my favorite summer grilling recipes:

This nutrition information does not address individual health conditions. Please consult with your physician or registered dietitian to meet specific health and dietary needs.


Healthy Summer Foods to Add to Your Diet

Summer VegetablesJune is National Dairy and National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month. Just a quick reminder here that this is a perfect time of year to add more fresh produce and dairy to your eating and be mindful of their importance. These are nutrient-dense foods critical to your health and they provide a high ratio of nutrients per calorie.

Diets rich in fruits and vegetables reduce our risk of chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease. Two to three fruit and two to three cups of veggies daily have been highlighted in studies to be health-promoting. Why not explore this summer’s finest ripe, sweet fresh produce such as cherries, berries, apricots, blackberries, peaches, melons, and sweet peppers, beets, radishes, tomatoes, cucumbers and summer squash!

Like fruits and vegetables, dairy foods are nutrition-powerhouses also. Key to bone health, blood pressure and heart rhythm, milk products are the easiest way to assure you are getting enough calcium and Vitamin D in your diet. In fact, each glass of milk contributes significant amounts of nine major nutrients, as well as almost every other nutrient we need. Two glasses a day, and you are on your way to a healthier day. When choosing milk, note that regular non-fat milk has a higher potassium content than soy and almond, and Greek yogurt concentrates even more potassium. Potassium plays a big role in a maintaining a healthy blood pressure and heart rate.

To celebrate National Dairy and National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month, why not try these two easy, healthy breakfast recipes from You can swap in your favorite fruits or add a few green leaves, including kale or spinach leaves, to the smoothie, or add a touch of orange juice to replace the sweetener in oatmeal.

Protein-Packed Berry Burst Smoothie – provides 10 grams of protein and 250 mg calcium, meeting 25% of your daily need (Daily Value) for calcium per serving.

Slow Cooker Oats – This easy make-ahead recipe is perfect for busy families, provides 9 grams of protein and meets 25% of your daily need (Daily Value) for calcium per serving.

This shake and oatmeal each include milk, oatmeal (a whole-grain), nuts and fruit – a winning combination for any meal. So, go ahead and try these.  You’ll start your day with additional health and a burst of flavor!

For more ideas on healthy eating, check out The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate (2009). My guidebook of tips makes healthy eating more enjoyable and more manageable. Connect with me online at @GeorgiaKostas and Facebook/Georgia KostasNutrition and visit:

This nutrition information does not address individual health conditions. Please consult with your physician or registered dietitian to meet specific health and dietary needs.

Preventing Osteoporosis: Smart Eats for Stronger Bones

Milk Pour

Weak and brittle bones are typically thought to be a senior health concern, however, no matter what age you are, how you treat your bones today strongly impacts your bone health for the rest of your life.

Bones are living tissue and your body constantly creates new bones to replace its older bones. By about the time you reach the age of 30, your bones begin to break down faster than they are rebuilt. This causes the bones to shrink and become less dense, resulting in poor bone health and disease.

May is National Osteoporosis Month and a time to take a closer look at the disease affecting more than one out of three Americans and what we can do to offset our risk. Osteoporosis occurs when bones become porous, brittle and prone to fracture. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, more than half of women over 65 years old suffer from osteoporosis and 15-25 percent of men over age 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture. Not only does poor bone health result in fractures, but it also leads to disabilities, chronic pain and an inability to partake in everyday activities.1

So how do you prevent osteoporosis and ensure bone health throughout your life? A healthy diet high in calcium and Vitamin D can play a crucial role. Calcium is vital to supporting bone and teeth structure and Vitamin D improves bone growth and the body’s ability to absorb calcium.

Adults up to age 50 need 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day and 200 international units (IU) of Vitamin D. After age 50, adults should aim for 1,200 milligrams of calcium and 400-600 IU of Vitamin D.

Following are my recommendations for the best foods to ensure ample calcium and bone health.

  • Milk – Eight ounces of fat-free milk will provide 30 percent of your daily dose of calcium ( about 300 mg calcium). Look for brands fortified with Vitamin D to get double the benefits. Check out Kroger’s CarbMaster Nonfat Milk, which is available in three flavors including nonfat, chocolate and vanilla. It contains up to 40 percent of your daily calcium and only 60 calories per cup!  Typically, drink 2-3 cups milk (or foods with the equivalancy in calcium) to consume needed calcium daily. Add milk to cereal, oatmeal, smoothies, soup and mashed potatoes.
  • Dark green leafy vegetables – A cooked cup of spinach, broccoli or collard greens can contain upto 25 percent of your daily calcium plus they are loaded with other nutrients like fiber, iron and Vitamin A.  Add greens to any spaghetti meat sauce or stew or bean dish, or even a smoothie.
  • Low-fat cheese – Great options include light cheeses such as from Cabot or Laughing Cow, which are high in calcium and lower in calories and fat ( 150-200 mg calcium; 50 calories per oz).
  • Yogurt –Enjoy Greek yogurt like nonfat Fage, which contains more calcium and more protein than most yogurts (250 mg calcium, 23 gm protein per 1 cup).
  • Salmon – A 3-ounce piece of salmon contains more than 100 percent of your Vitamin D serving for the day so load up!
  • Sardines – These small fish usually found in cans, can make a great addition to pasta or salads as they have surprisingly high levels of both Vitamin D and calcium.
  • Breakfast Calcium Boost – Get a calcium boost at breakfast time! Along with milk in cereal or oatmeal, choose calcium and Vitamin D- fortified orange juice. Look for Tropicana Pure Premium or Minute Maid Pure Squeezed with Calcium and Vitamin D (350 mg calcium per cup).
  • Add it up. How much calcium do you consume daily? Keep track and make sure you are getting the proper amount in your diet.

Emerging research also indicates the following nutrients play an important role in increasing bone density: Vitamin K (found in green vegetables), magnesium (found in leafy green vegetables, nuts, beans, bran and whole grains) and foods rich in omega-3 (found in seafood) and boron (found in apples, avocados, dates and nuts, and fruit and vegetables). These nutrients and vitamins lower the body’s acidity and calcium loss. Eat these foods regularly for added bone strength.

For more ideas on how to increase bone density and help prevent osteoporosis with a healthy diet, check out The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate (2009). My guidebook of tips makes healthy eating more enjoyable and more manageable. Connect with me online at @GeorgiaKostas and Facebook/Georgia KostasNutrition and visit:

This nutrition information does not address individual health conditions. Please consult with your physician or registered dietitian to meet specific health and dietary needs.

1 The National Osteoporosis Foundation

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Planning a Healthy and Happy Easter for Your Whole Family


Spring is finally in the air and Easter is here! It’s time to plan your treats and eats for the holiday festivities. Check out these easy ways to add healthier surprises to your Easter baskets and satisfy your family and Easter guests.

Easter Baskets 

Easter baskets are, of course, a highlight of the holiday for kids, but they are typically filled with candy loaded with calories, fat and sugar. With some simple planning you can swap in some healthier and lighter Easter sweets and still delight your kids.

  • Dark Chocolate  Choose dark chocolate over milk chocolate. Look for dark chocolate made with at least 70% cocoa. This ensures heart-healthy antioxidants. Also, opt for hollow or marshmallow-filled eggs, which can have half the calories of crème-filled or solid chocolates. Chocolate almonds are favorites, too.
  • Plastic Eggs – Fill plastic eggs with healthier snacks like trail mix, nuts or colorful dried fruit bits. Half the excitement for kids is finding the eggs. Including healthier surprises inside adds variety and a welcomed change!
  • Fruit , Seeds, Nuts, Popcorn – Consider making your own chocolate-covered treats using dark chocolate melted over dried or fresh fruits, seeds, nuts or popcorn. One fun idea: chocolate-covered clusters of pomegranate seeds or dried cherries with sunflower seeds. Serving a sweet treat may introduce kids to a new nutritious food.
  • Think Beyond Treats – Add some of your children’s favorite fruits to the basket…such as berries, grapes, raisins, dried apricots or apple slices. For a little protein, include healthy almond or peanut butter packets or fruit yogurt for dipping. Individually-wrapped light cheese portions, as from Cabot Cheese and Laughing Cow are also welcomed snacks.
  • Non-Edible Surprises – Load baskets with non-food items. Think of what hobbies your kids enjoy and create a theme. You could include items like a jump rope, a stuffed animal, sidewalk chalk or Easter-themed stickers and coloring books. 

Easter Brunch

 Are you looking to please your brunch bunch? When planning your Easter feast, consider the fresh flavors of the season and springtime produce. To balance the sweets, keep your menu light, easy, healthy and colorful. Here are my suggestions:

  • Make your grains count – Try a new whole-grain. Cook quinoa or polenta. Add Greek yogurt, nuts and fresh fruit for delicious and hearty parfaits.
  • Give eggs a healthy twist - Mix eggs with fresh veggies such as onions, red bell pepper, spinach, asparagusand add lean protein like light cheese or beans. Serve as a frittata or omelette. Skip creamy, heavy dishes. Check out this recipe from Cabot for a spinach frittata baked with caramelized onions and light Cabot cheddar cheese.
  • Serve a salad - Add a beautiful fruit or spring salad to your menu. This time of year, strawberries, oranges and grapes are at their peak, so get creative with these sweet fruits. For green salads, incorporate spring veggies like asparagus, artichokes, radishes and sweet onions in a homemade vinaigrette dressing.
  • Choose healthy spreads - If serving whole-grained bagels or breads, offer nutritious spreads with fewer calories and saturated fats. Nut butters, hummus, tuna, ricotta or cottage cheese-based dips containing veggies (like chopped onions, carrots, broccoli, olives) are great protein options.
  • For smoothies, go green - For a sweet kick, prepare smoothies for your guests with fresh fruit and don’t be afraid to add some green…like spinach or kale leaves or avocado. Look for a way to fit in greens at any meal.

Wishing you all a healthy, happy Easter!

For more ideas on healthy eating and quick meals , check out The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate (2009) or contact me for individual counseling. My guidebook of tips makes healthy eating more enjoyable and more manageable. Connect with me online at @GeorgiaKostas and Facebook/Georgia Kostas Nutrition and visit:

This nutrition information does not address individual health conditions. Please consult with your physician or registered dietitian to meet specific health and dietary needs.

RECIPE: 15 or 16 Bean Soup


  • 1 lb bagged beans (15-16 types)
  • 1 lb lean ground beef or turkey (90% fat free)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 5 large cloves of garlic, diced ( or 1 tablespoon minced garlic, purchased)
  • 1 large onion, peeled, sliced into chunks (2 cups)*
  • 5 large carrots, cleaned, peeled, sliced into chunks (2 cups)*
  • 6 celery stalks, cleaned, sliced into chunks (2 cups)*
  • 4-8  cups kale leaves, washed, loosed packed, cut into thin strips
  • Optional: jalapeno or serrano pepper, de-seeded and sliced (or canned)
  • 2 quarts of chicken broth
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 14.5 oz  can diced tomatoes
  • 3  tablespoons Greek seasoning
  • 1  teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar (add at end)

* You could also use a frozen veggie mix.


1. Night before: Sort beans in colander and rinse to remove dirt.  Transfer to a large pot and soak beans overnight in a large pot of water.

2. Next morning or night before: Clean and cut all vegetables into similar sized chunks, so they cook evenly.  Throw out soaking water and retain beans to transfer to a  crockpot.

2.  In a crockpot,  cover bottom with oil (to prevent food from sticking). Add all ingredients and beans.

4.  Stir and simmer 6-8 hours.  During last 15 minutes, add 1 tablespoon of vinegar to add a zesty flavor.