Pancreatic Cancer

Foods That Promote a Healthy Pancreas

If you’ve never had issues with your pancreas (i.e., pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas, and pancreatic cancer), you may not even know that the small, bean-shaped organ plays an essential role digestion—more precisely, it breaks down and converts food into fuel to feed our cells and store food for energy.

The following 14 foods will protect, nourish, and keep your pancreas in smooth working order…

1. Garlic

Garlic might scare a first date away, but the allium-species vegetable (in addition to onions, fenugreek, chives, shallots, and leeks) contains beneficial nutrients—such as sulfur, arginine, oligosaccharides, flavonoids, and selenium—which have very positive effects on pancreatic tissues. In fact, a San Francisco Bay area study published by the National Cancer Institute linked individuals who consumed a high garlic diet with a 54-percent lower risk of pancreatic cancer.

2. Probiotic Yogurt

Research from Columbia University (from 2013) and the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, recommends healthy individuals eat 3 servings of low fat or fat free yogurt that contains active cultures (probiotics or beneficial bacteria) to help ease digestion, protect the pancreas and digestive system, and reduce the overall risk of pancreatic cancer.

3. Spinach

Medical experts at the at the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbruecke recommend the best way to protect your pancreas and lower the risk of pancreatic cancer is to consume a diet high in spinach, or more specifically, leafy green veggies (i.e., kale, spinach, mustard greens, and Swiss chard) with elevated levels of B vitamins and iron.

4. Mushrooms

Magic mushrooms indeed! According to a study conducted by Indiana University’s Cancer Research Laboratory at Methodist Research Institute, in Indianapolis, a traditional Asian remedy made from the pine-bearing Poria cocos mushroom blocked the MMP gene, which is linked to the development of pancreatic cancer.

5. Cherries

It’s really hard to eat just a handful of cherries, which is great news since the fruit is rich in antioxidants and perillyl alcohol (or POH), a compound that’s been linked to the prevention of pancreatic cancer.

6. Broccoli

Broccoli on your plate might have scared you as a child, but the thought of pancreatic cancer should make you a lover of the cruciferous vegetable as a health-conscious adult. In fact, a study from University of Illinois discovered that foods rich in the flavonoids apigenin and luteolin, like broccoli, kill (or inhibit) human pancreatic cancer cell formation.

7. Red Grapes

Red wine drinkers will be first to toast a recent study from University of Rochester Medical Center, in New York. The lab study linked red wine (or the skin of red grapes) to the malfunction and death of pancreatic cancer cells. This is all thanks to a powerful antioxidant compound called resveratrol, which you can also get from eating fresh red grapes, as well as raspberries and blueberries.

8. Sweet Potatoes

If you care to swap your white potatoes for a healthier spud, sweet potatoes are not only lower on the glycemic index—they also pack a pancreas-protecting punch! The bright orange tadder is linked to boosting organ function as well as lowering the instance of pancreatic cancer by 50 percent, according to research out of the University of California.

9. Tofu

Not many people who aren’t either vegetarian or vegan think about eating tofu. It’s a good low-fat source of protein and is often used in meals as a substitute for meat. It doesn’t have to only be for these restricted diets. In fact, Doctor NDTV writes, “tofu is a great source of low-fat proteins. It promotes better recovery of your digestive tract and protects your pancreas from damage.”

Another reason people need to eat low-fat protein sources is because protein will help with healing, “but too much fat will exacerbate any pancreas problems,” writes LiveStrong.

10. Tomato Vegetable Soup

There’s nothing I enjoy more than a nice hearty, steaming bowl of soup on a cold winter day, or when I’m feeling sick. If you’re not a fan of eating veggies on their own and find it hard to use them up before they go back, a great way to incorporate them into your diet is by adding them to tasty dishes like soup! It’s super easy to make a healthy tomato vegetable soup and as an added bonus, it’s a great dish for the pancreas!

“Tomatoes are a good source of vitamin C and antioxidants. Vegetables also contain antioxidants and beneficial nutrients, and soup provides additional fluid,” says LiveStrong.

11. Blueberries

Not only is this sweet little fruit tasty and easy to eat on the go as a guilt-free snack, but it’s also super healthy for us! According to LiveStrong, blueberries and cherries are great sources of antioxidants which allows them to help prevent cell damage. You can add blueberries and cherries to other dishes like salads, yogurt or smoothies, eat them on their own as a refreshing snack, or even bake them into a dessert!

12. Lemon

This zesty fruit is often used to add flavor to dishes while cooking, baking, and even to jazz up a plain old glass of water! Well, we’ve got some more good news. Lemon can also be used to help encourage a healthy pancreas. “Sour foods like lemon improve the production of digestive enzymes in your body, thereby keeping the pancreas in a good state of health,” writes Doctors NDTV.

The source also notes that you can get a similar effect from kiwis.

13. Oregano

Oregano is a kitchen staple. This popular herb has a super unique taste and is often needed to add to a variety of different dishes. Not only can it be used for cooking, but it’s got some healing properties too. Doctor NDTV explains that it can be used to treat oxidation caused by diabetes and “the properties of oregano prevent the [pancreas] from any damage.”

14. Dandelion

When we think of dandelions we often think of those pesky little weeds that grow on our beautiful green lawn in the summer months. Most people are always trying to get rid of dandelions and don’t think of ever picking them and eating them! However, the dandelion root is actually quite popular among holistic cancer treatments.

“For your pancreas, this root acts as an effective treatment for the aggressive cancer cells,” says Doctor NDTV. “This is very beneficial for people who are resistant to other cancer treatments.” The best and easiest way to consume dandelion is by drinking a dandelion tea which will help flush out all the toxins from the intestines and help heal any damaged pancreas tissue.