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Nutrition Tips for Patients Undergoing Breast Cancer Treatment

While undergoing treatment for breast cancer, it is important to maintain a generally healthy diet, but here are some particular guidelines to follow. As a rule, make sure to eat enough calories and protein. If you lose your appetite, try smoothies, and keep easy foods around such as sardines, nuts/seeds, eggs and yogurt. Also, drink plenty of water throughout the day– aim for 6-8 cups.

Always remember:

  • Eat a nutrient-dense, plant-based diet.
  • Avoid foods with refined sugar as much as possible.
  • Check blood test for vitamin D levels.
  • Limit saturated fats and eliminate trans fats.

Specific Foods to seek out

  • Cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli, kale, and Brussels sprouts)
    • These vegetables are high in glucosinolates which are sulfur-containing compounds which convert to sulforaphane (SFN) a chemopreventive, which induces apoptosis of cancer cells and slows their growth.
  • Foods high in beta carotene (look for vegetables that are orange, red, or yellow, such as peppers, squash, and carrots)
  • Pomegranates
  • Foods high in omega 3 fatty acids: ALA (flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, hempseeds) and EPA/DHA (salmon, sardines, black cod, mackerel)
  • Flaxseeds (Grind them to increase their availability)
    • These seeds are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and lignans which have beneficial phytoestrogen which helps with Tamoxifen (SERM).

Can I eat soy?

  • It’s a good idea to limit processed soy products such as supplements or isoflavone extracts.
  • Stick to whole soy foods such as miso, edamame and tofu

Breast cancer treatment can trigger certain responses that make eating difficult.

Change in taste

  • Keep a list of favorite foods and dishes
  • Use tart flavors (if tolerated) such as lemon, pickled foods, balsamic vinegar
  • Season foods with herbs and spices such as oregano, onion, garlic or rosemary
  • Rinse your mouth with water and baking soda

Nausea and Vomiting

  • Eat small and light meals before treatment
  • Bland foods: oatmeal, boiled potatoes, rice, toast, crackers
  • Avoid high fat, fried, very sweet and heavily spiced foods


  • Increase fluid intake
  • Replenish lost electrolytes with broth, bananas, sprinkle sea salt in water, dark greens and fruits


  • Increase fiber and fluids

Gas and bloating

  • Avoid cauliflower, cabbage and beans

For more tips, check out our Nutrition Tips for Breast Cancer Patients booklet.

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