Have Cancer? These Are the Foods You Should Be Eating

Cancer is more prevalent than ever, with one out of every three people developing the disease in their lifetime in the U.S. And those over the age of 50 should be particularly wary, as the American Cancer Society notes nine out of 10 of those diagnosed are approaching their senior years. It’s not all bad, however, as better cancer treatments and more options are constantly under development. Now, more people than ever are conquering their diagnosis.

If you do have cancer, knowing how to get the best nutrition can be a challenge. Here are the best foods that cancer patients should consider adding to their diets.

High-protein foods

Vegan protein sources

Protein sources | Rimma_Bondarenko/Getty Images

It’s important to note that there’s no one diet that works for everyone with cancer. But in general, foods high in protein are essential, as they help preserve muscle mass and maintain body weight. The Cleveland Clinic notes¬†unprocessed meats without nitrates are ideal here. Prepackaged tuna and chicken, including organic rotisserie chickens, are an easy option when you don’t have the energy to cook, too. If you’re a vegetarian, beans, quinoa, and tofu are ideal.

The publication also recommends investing in a slow cooker. This device easily transforms any meat into a delicious meal with minimal fussing throughout the day.

Dark green or deep yellow veggies and plenty of fruit

If you’re having trouble getting your nutrients or staying hydrated, make sure you’re adding fresh fruit into your diet. Not only do fruits offer vitamins and minerals, but they’re also typically more calorically dense than veggies. And if you’re eating melons, berries, or pineapple, you’re also helping yourself stay hydrated, which is essential.

As for veggies, WebMD suggests dark, leafy greens or vegetables that are deep yellow in color. Kale, mustard greens, chard, and squash are all great here. These typically carry a ton of essential nutrients.

Good fats

Peanut butter jar and heap of nuts

Peanut butter | Julia_Sudnitskaya/Getty Images

You’ll want to avoid saturated fats and greasy foods, as these may make you nauseous if you’re undergoing cancer treatment. However, sticking with healthy monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats is a good plan. These fats can help keep you satisfied for longer between meals and provide you with long-lasting energy that you may feel like you’re missing otherwise.

As for fats to go for, peanut butter and other nut butters are a good option here, as they also have plenty of protein. Avocados, cheese, chia seeds, and extra virgin olive oil are also worth taking a look at.

Crackers and toast

Cancer treatments may make past favorite foods unpalatable, so it’s a good idea to have some bland foods on hand. Crackers and toast serve as perfect vessels for peanut butter or other toppings if you can stomach them. And if you can’t, just eating them plain can give you extra calories you may be missing from your diet.

Always go for whole grains when possible, too. This simple switch will offer you more complex carbs that are better for your body and digestive system. You can also try cereals, oatmeal, or Cream of Wheat.

Non-caffeinated fluids

Water being poured into a glass

Water being poured into a glass | Pinkomele/iStock/Getty Images

Solid foods aside, it’s equally important to drink the proper amount of water when you have cancer. Some treatments may give you diarrhea or cause vomiting, in which case it’s even more important to step away from caffeine and take in as much water as possible. If you’re dealing with mouth soreness, then drinking water during your meal (and choosing softer foods) can also help alleviate any discomfort.

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