Most of us love salty snacks or like to add salt to our favorite meals, but according to leading experts from the American Institute for Cancer Research and Maria Petzel, senior clinical dietitian for the Pancreas Surgery Program at MD Anderson Cancer Center, and Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Scientific and Medical Advisory Board Member, spicing up your meals may be the healthier way to go. Especially for cancer patients.

“Using herbs and spices in the diet adds cancer fighting phytochemicals,” said Petzel. “Trying new herbs and spices can help enhance the flavor of foods for those experiencing taste changes and help reduce the need for salt in those trying to reduce the sodium in their diet.”

Below are few herbs and spices Petzel encourages patients to incorporate in their diet.

Turmeric:  Contains curcumin and could be a good spice for cancer patients

Cinnamon: May aid in blood glucose control

Parsley: Acts as an anti-inflammatory

Ginger: Has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties – also may be good for helping reduce nausea

Garlic: Contains anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer compounds (these compounds need time to develop after chopping and crushing, so when using fresh garlic, wait 15 minutes before cooking)

Though we know these herbs and spices are safe in normal quantities eaten in food and have potential anti-cancer benefits, Petzel cautions against taking high doses as dietary supplements.

“One of the ways scientists pick to study individual foods, herbs and spices is based on studies of certain diets or cuisines that are associated with lower cancer rates. However, there are few, if any, studies that demonstrate the safety or efficacy of using large doses of herbal supplements.”

Are you a pancreatic cancer patient or caregiver? You can access comprehensive disease information, including diet and nutrition tips, recipes and a booklet on the subject – all reviewed and approved by renowned leaders, including Petzel, in the field by contacting the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s one-on-one Patient Central support service by phone or email.

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