Eat & Live Better
We are what we eat – but that isn't always a good thing. By reducing our exposure to toxic chemicals in our food, we reduce our risk of disease.
We all know vegetables are great for us, but the lining in canned food can leach chemicals like BPA. Farmers' market-fresh vegetables are a better choice, but if you can't make it to the market or want something out of season, choose frozen over canned or look for brands that make BPA-free cans.
- Find more tips for kicking the can.
- Find out which canned food makers are trying to go BPA-free.
- Download our 10 Canned Foods to Avoid wallet card.
Which chemicals are on your dinner plate? Learn what they are, where they come from and how they impact breast cancer risk.Chemicals in food >
Organic produce is grown without harmful man-made pesticides and herbicides. Visit a farmers' market for locally grown organic fruits and vegetables, or ask your grocer to stock organic produce. For extra points, look for antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables high in vitamin E, vitamin C and beta-carotene.
When we eat meat and dairy products, we're also eating the residue of what those animals ate, including pesticides, growth hormones and contaminants. Choose hormone-free beef or dairy to eliminate those traces of hormones that can enter our bodies and contribute to an increased risk of breast cancer.
In addition to mercury, seafood can also be contaminated with high levels of PCBs and dioxins (which you should especially avoid when pregnant). Buy farmed fish that are lower on the food chain; for larger fish like salmon and sea bass, buy wild-raised. And limit consumption of fattier fish, like lake trout, or fish that are bottom dwellers, like wild catfish.
- Learn which fish are your safest choices.
- Find out about fish contamination levels in local bodies of water.
When you do eat fish, careful preparation and cooking can reduce the amount of PCBs consumed. Fillet fish to remove as much fat as possible. Frying may actually seal some of the toxic chemicals within the remaining fat, so bake it or broil it instead, which will cook off natural fats and cause the accumulated chemicals to drip out.
Found in cigarette smoke and car exhaust, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are also found in the char of heavily grilled foods. So when grilling, use a slower roast method, go for medium instead of well-done, and scrape off any of the black stuff that results from overcooking.
Natural plant-based estrogens in soy may provide healthy benefits in low doses, but may be a risk factor for breast cancer in higher doses. So use it as part of your regular diet (tofu, anyone?) but stay away from concentrated or isolated forms of soy derivatives, including genistein pills.
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