Cancer Patients Go Green! For Health

Cancer Patients Go Green!Pssst… thankfully, you don’t have to have cancer to reap solid nutritional advice from this blog post.

The meaning of Go Green! changes from person to person.

  • A fan of Michigan State University chants Go Green! and waits for the crowd’s response of Go White! at football games.
  • An environmentalist says Go Green! to encourage us to reduce our carbon footprint.
  • A registered dietitian coaches patients at Botsford Cancer Center to Go Green! for the health benefits.

Denise Cykiert, RD, Nutrition Educator, Botsford Cancer Center

Denise Cykiert, RD, Nutrition Educator, Botsford Cancer Center

Ok, that last point is me. You see, I found a quick, easy approach to educate our cancer patients to Go Green! for the boost it can give their health by hosting a Green Smoothie Day. Recently, I gave a demonstration to our cancer center patients and visitors on how to put together a delicious green smoothie (see my recipe below). Then, we all enjoyed free samples of this frothy blend of bananas, pineapple, mango, strawberries, and… spinach, which provides a warehouse of nutrient-packed green goodness.

Why Go Green?

My goal as a dietitian is assisting patients to meet their nutritional needs for a variety of outcomes, including:

  1. Reducing symptoms of chemotherapy or radiation treatment
  2. Promoting weight maintenance
  3. Increasing hydration

My simple smoothie recipe provides an easy way for our patients to meet their nutritional needs—even when they’re not feeling their best.

Green Smoothies can be made using a variety of fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables that my patients like to eat. Added benefits: they’re simpler to make than cooking from scratch and provide a nutrient-rich glass of delicious food.

When patients aren’t feeling well, consuming large amounts of food can be difficult. Lack of appetite can keep them from meeting their nutritional needs, especially with a daily goal of 3-5 servings of fruits and vegetables. Drinking a Green Smoothie is a great way to get the vitamins, minerals, enzymes, fiber, and antioxidants from fresh or frozen produce in one glass. By choosing a rainbow of colors each day through their fruit and vegetable selections, my patients are filling their bodies with a variety of essential nutrients.

Health Benefits of Green Smoothies

Most fresh produce is packed with nutritional value. Fruits and vegetables are:

  • High in fiber, which helps my patients stay fuller longer
  • Low in calories and fat
  • A good source of additional hydration

Vitamins and nutrients from fruits and vegetables provide my patients with:

  1. Much-needed immune system support
  2. Phytochemicals, such as the disease-fighting antioxidants of vitamins A, C, and E. These are known to fight cancer by tackling free radicals that would attack and damage normal cells.
  3. Heart-healthy benefits from calcium and potassium
  4. Bone strengthening from manganese

By including the leafy greens of either kale or spinach in their Green Smoothies, my patients get iron, which transports oxygen to all tissues throughout their bodies, and chlorophyll, which is a natural blood purifier. Drinking my Green Smoothies gives my patients a burst of energy, which is extremely important to their survival.

Denise Cykiert’s Looks-Aren’t-Everything* Green Smoothie

*I admit these smoothies look kind of weird, but they taste good—not like spinach at all.

Go Green! Smoothie

2 cups spinach, fresh
1 cup pineapple*
1 cup mango*
2 bananas*
1 cup strawberries*
1 cup ice cubes

*May use fresh or frozen fruit

Place spinach and ice in a blender. Put the lid on and blend on high. Add all the fruit and blend on high. Pour into two large glasses and serve immediately. Makes 4-5 cups. Serves 2. Nutrition per serving: 1 gram fat, 3.5 grams protein, 227 calories.


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