Eating oily food for health reasons sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? And yet, a recent study from a team of Chinese researchers shows that eating certain types of oily foods could reduce breast cancer risk, help the immune system, and improve brain and blood vessel function.
What oily food can do all that? Certain types of fish can; tuna, salmon, and sardines, are good choices in particular. All of these types of fish are loaded with n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs), which are responsible for these positive health effects. One of the most important is lowering cancer risk, especially breast cancer –the silent killer of many women because it often goes undiagnosed for too long. Twenty-three percent of total female cancer cases, and fourteen percent of all female deaths in 2008 can be attributed to breast cancer.
How can we fight this tragic disease? The fatty acids in fish, n-3 PUFAs, might help us find the answer. N-3 PUFAS can be broken down into four smaller categories of healthy oils, three of which come from fish: EPA, DPA, and DHA, and the last, ALA, which can be obtained from nuts, seeds, and some leafy vegetables. The study found that the potentially cancer preventative oils are the kind of n-3 PUFAs that come from fish, not nuts or vegetables.
A high intake of these beneficial oils can reduce breast cancer risk; women who eat a lot of these foods have up to fourteen percent less chance of developing cancer cells than those who eat only low amounts. How much us enough? The study showed that every 0.1 gram increase in these fish fatty acids a day is linked to a five percent breast cancer risk reduction. That’s between one and two servings of oily fish a day. Bon appetit!