What to Eat When You Have Cancer - dummies

By Christina T. Loguidice, Maurie Markman, Carolyn Lammersfeld

Part of Cancer Nutrition & Recipes For Dummies Cheat Sheet

After you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, you may be wondering what foods you should eat. You may have to modify your diet during treatment, but there are some key nutrients you should always strive to get. Here’s what you need every day:

  • Healthy fats (particularly foods containing omega-3 fatty acids): Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and help support immune health. They may also help with appetite and weight maintenance during cancer treatment. Most people don’t get enough omega-3s in their diet. Good sources of omega-3s are flax meal, canola oil, walnuts, and cold-water fatty fish like salmon. If you’re not getting enough omega-3s through diet alone, you can supplement with omega-3s in the form of pills. When shopping for a supplement, be sure to look for a brand that has a high amount of EPA, and that has been independently tested and is guaranteed to be free of mercury and other contaminants. Some brands that have been found by ConsumerLab.com to meets this standard are Carlson and Swanson.

  • Lean protein: Protein is essential for maintaining muscle and immune health during cancer treatment. It’s also important for making new cells in between treatments and for healing after surgery. The best sources of protein are eggs; beans; low-fat dairy products; and lean, unprocessed meats, poultry, and fish.

  • Fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals. Many of these phytochemicals have antioxidant or other properties that help maintain the health of your cells. The more colorful your plate of fruits and vegetables, the greater the benefit. Try to consume a variety of colors on a daily basis, including red, orange, yellow, green, purple, and white.