Summer is often filled with water activities, vacations, delicious BBQs and meals with family and friends. And for many, the season offers more time to spend in the kitchen baking and eating sweet treats.
For pancreatic cancer patients with a sweet tooth, there are particular spices and ingredients to consider adding to your desserts, and a few fixings you may want to stay away from.
According to a study in Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects, a few ingredients that may improve the taste of your desserts and could have health benefits include:
- Allspice: Also referred to as “Jamaica pepper,” “pimenta” and “newspice,” the spice is said to have antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
- Cinnamon: Not only can it help control glucose levels; some researchers believe that cinnamon can suppress the growth of cancer cells.
- Ginger: Studies have shown a diet containing ginger can increase helpful antioxidants in the liver. It may also help reduce nausea and improve appetite.
- Cloves: The eugenol found in cloves has also been shown to have anti-cancer properties. One study on cancer cells in a laboratory found that clove extract helped stop the growth of tumors and promoted cell death in cancer cells.
Maria Petzel, senior clinical dietitian for the Pancreas Surgery Program at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and a member of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s (PanCAN) Scientific and Medical Advisory Board, offers other considerations to make your desserts healthier.
“Eating dessert, in moderation, is okay,” Petzel said. “Look for desserts that are centered around fruit such as pies or cobblers and with limited or no added sugar. Also, try to avoid desserts with artificial sweeteners – especially sugar alcohols – these can cause significant gastrointestinal side effects including cramping, gas, and diarrhea.”
Even though they’re called sugar alcohols, it’s important to note they do not contain hard alcohol (like wine, beer and liquor). Examples of sugar alcohol include erythritol, glycerol (also known as glycerin or glycerine), hydrogenated starch hydrolysates, isomalt, lactitol, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol and xylitol. These are indigestible sweeteners.
Pancreatic cancer patients often have many questions and concerns about nutritional care. MyPlate and American Institute for Cancer Research can be used as resources for healthy diets on a budget. Also, a registered dietitian can work with patients to meet their individual dietary needs.
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