Christmas countdown: Healthy recipes from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute are ideal for parties

December 11, 2012 

Stacy Kennedy, a nutritionist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, says variety is the key to having delicious and healthy treats to serve at holiday parties.

"Many of the foods we enjoy around the holidays are not only delicious to eat, but they may also contain cancer-fighting nutrients." Kennedy said in a news release. Here is a list of foods and recipes from Kennedy and her colleagues that belong on anyone’s "nice list."

Ho-ho hummus: Skip those holiday dips that are buried in excess fat and calories. Kennedy says lighten up by substituting with an easy-to-prepare hummus. Scallion and Roasted Pine Nut Hummus calls for pine nuts, which are rich in protein, zinc, copper and manganese, which are important for a healthy immune system. Legumes, like chickpeas, are a great source of protein and dietary fiber, which can help reduce the risk of cancer and help lower cholesterol.

Go nuts: Dust off that family nutcracker. Recent research finds that walnuts may help prevent kidney and colon cancers. In addition, the study suggests that walnuts are a rich source of antioxidants that may help protect cells from oxidative damage. Walnuts contain essential fatty acids, or the so-called “good fats,” which are known to help reduce blood pressure and boost the immune system. So go nuts with this simple pesto recipe.

Merry mango: Mangoes are naturally sweet and rich in a variety of antioxidants. One of them, lupeol, is thought to rid the body of harmful molecules known as free radicals, which can damage a cell's DNA, triggering some forms of cancer and other diseases. Studies have indicated that mango pulp may lower the risk of prostate cancer, inflammation, arthritis, and diabetes. This colorful and refreshing mousse recipe will delight dinner guests.

Positively pomegranate: Pomegranates have definitely moved to the top of many people’s “nice list.” They are now found in everything from drinks to desserts and for good reason. Recent research suggests that drinking pomegranate juice may be a delicious way to help prevent prostate cancer, as well as prevent the metastasis and spread of prostate cancer cells. Try this good-for-you dessert that is layered with flavonoids, vitamin C, and other antioxidants.

Magical mixture: Want something magical this holiday? Try making a dip with fresh roasted pumpkin. Pumpkin can spice up many recipes, from muffins to ravioli. “It’s also one of the tastiest ways to enhance the body’s own natural cancer-fighting ability,” says Kennedy. Pumpkins are packed with nutrients called carotenoids, which have been linked to the prevention of colon, prostate, breast, and lung cancer. It’s actually the bright orange color that makes pumpkin rich in nutrients. Here’s a twist on a classic party-size hummus recipe.

Festive finger food: This appetizer (or snack) is made with winter squash. It’s not only delicious but also a good source of carotenoids. They act to clean out the dangerous free radicals that enter your body from stress or the environment.

Find more nutritious cancer-fighting recipes at www.dana-farber.org/nutrition.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (www.dana-farber.org) is a principal teaching affiliate of the Harvard Medical School and is among the leading cancer research and care centers in the United States. It is a founding member of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC), designated a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute. It provides adult cancer care with Brigham and Women’s Hospital as Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center and it provides pediatric care with Boston Children’s Hospital as Dana-Farber/Children’s Hospital Cancer Center. Dana-Farber is the top ranked cancer center in New England, according to U.S. News & World Report, and one of the largest recipients among independent hospitals of National Cancer Institute and National Institutes of Health grant funding. Follow Dana-Farber on Twitter: @danafarber or Facebook: facebook.com/danafarbercancerinstitute.

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