Most people don’t think about their pancreatic health until something goes wrong. Your pancreas, however, is an important organ that affects your overall health, especially your digestive health. Located in your abdomen, a healthy pancreas produces enzymes and hormones that help you digest food, such as insulin and polypeptides.
Not taking care of your pancreas can lead to pancreatitis, which is painful inflammation of the pancreas, and pancreatic cancer. People diagnosed with type 1 and type 2 diabetes also attribute the disease to their pancreases not functioning properly.
The first step to taking care of our pancreatic health is as easy as knowing what foods keep it happy and healthy.
Here are 5 pancreatic health-boosting foods that you need to write into your shopping list immediately. The best thing about these foods is that there are basically endless ways to incorporate them into your normal diet.
Broccoli contains compounds that help to eliminate carcinogenic toxins (cancer causing agents) and can prevent DNA mutation. Broccoli sprouts are especially rich in cancer-fighting compounds. For best health benefits, eat your broccoli raw or only slightly steamed.
Delicious ways to serve broccoli
- Broccoli and low-fat cheese soup
- Shredded broccoli salad with Greek yogurt salad dressing
- Raw broccoli with hummus dip
Spinach and other leafy greens such as kale and Swiss chard lower the risk of pancreatic cancer. Adding them to your diet can protect your pancreas while supplying your body with B vitamins and iron.
Delicious ways to add spinach
- Add spinach to your salad
- Add spinach to your whole grain or gluten free pasta dishes (p.s. it’s especially delicious in lasagna!)
- Switch out the lettuce in your whole grain sandwich with spinach
According to the National Cancer Institute, people who consume a high garlic diet have a 54% lower risk of developing pancreatic cancer. They also taste great in a variety of different dishes. If you were to only incorporate one food off this list into your everyday diet, this would be the one you’d want to. Talk about pancreatic heaven!
Delicious ways to incorporate garlic
- Add it to your soups
- Add it to your salads
- Add it to you low-fat sauces or veggie dips
Cherries are rich in perillyl alcohol, a compound that helps prevent pancreatic cancer. Buy organic or be sure to wash cherries well, as cherries often have high amounts of pesticides on their surface. Cherries also taste good in both sweet, dessert dishes as well as in salad and meat dishes.
Delicious ways to dish up cherries
- No-bake cherry cheesecake
- Whole grain waffles with cherry sauce
- Cherries with ricotta and toasted almonds
- Smoky roasted cherry jam on whole grain bread
A research study published by the National Cancer Institute states that individuals should eat 3 servings of yogurt per day. Yogurt contains active cultures that protect the pancreas and lower the risk of pancreatic cancer. Choose Greek yogurt to keep fat and sugar content low, while maintaining high protein intake.