Preventing Cancer Through Diet

Last Updated on Tuesday, 1 November 2011 10:05 Written by Flax Monday, 31 October 2011 02:12

As October becomes November the Cancer Awareness society moves their focus from Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October) to Lung and Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month (November).   While the Breast Cancer Awareness society has brought home the  “one in nine”  the more correct statistic for Jewish Ashkenzi women is “one in eight”.  The high rate is attributed to the “Jewish gene” – three mutations in the genes BRACA1 and BRACA2 – which raise the likelihood of breast cancer by 60-80 percent.  4,000 Israeli women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, and 900 die of the disease.  Lung cancer however, is the most dangerous of all cancers and is responsible for 29% of all cancer related deaths.

The cancer society has acknowledged a link between unhealthy lifestyle choices and higher cancer risk.  Two significant ways to reduce the risk of cancer are through exercise and diet.  Healthy dietary choices include eating a plant based diet,  eating whole grains, reducing saturated fats (animal products), reducing trans fat omega-6 oils (hydrogenated vegetable oils) and instead, using oils that are high in omega-3.  The two foods that I consider to be the most beneficial to both preventing and curing cancer are flax seed and seaweed.

Flax, high in omega-3 is also one of the best sources of vegetable lignins, compounds that have anti-tumor, anti-estrogenic, and anti-oxidant properties.  While flax appears to have value in treating all cancers, it is of extra value in treating both colon and breast cancers as the cells of these cancers have estrogen receptors and can be inhibited by the anti-estrogenic compounds in lignins.

Seaweeds are vegetables that are  easily digested, contain ten to twenty times the amount of minerals as regular (land) vegetables and have an abundance of vitamins and minerals.  Seaweeds detoxify the body, remove residues of radiation, are beneficial to the thyroid, and improve liver function.  Seaweeds ability to help reduce growths and tumors is noted in ancient Chinese texts which claim “there is no swelling that is not relieved by seaweed”.

To mark the occasion of October and November Cancer awareness months, I offer a recipe which uses both flax-seed and seaweed.  Satisfyingly enough, no-one, other than yourself, will  know that they are eating seaweed, or flax-seed for that matter. I served this dish for Shabbat lunch (when we had company),  I didn’t get a single seaweed comment, and there were no left overs.

This recipe has two parts but it’s not complicated. If making the crust is overwhelming, then buy a frozen ready-made whole wheat crust and just enjoy the health benefits of the filling. I promise you though, the crust isn’t hard to make, and from beginning to end, it adds only 5 minutes of work and one mixing bowl. If you are up to it, it’s worth the effort because while my recipe calls for olive oil and flax-seed, you know that they what you are buying contains  margarine galore and not even a single, solitary, flax-seed.

Wishing everyone good health and happiness ad meah ve’esrim.



  • 1 cup whole flour (spelt or wheat)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp ground flax-seed
  • 1/2 tsp Atlantic grey sea salt
  • 3 tbsp hot water
  • 1/2 cup water (apx.)

Preheat oven to 180 c (350 f)

Allow the the flax-seed and the salt to soak  in the hot water for 5 minutes. Pour the dissolved salt flax mixture into a bowl and add the remaining ingredients.  knead the dough until it is smooth. Roll out the dough into a thin layer and place in either a pie dish or a baking pan (any size or shape will work). Prick with a fork and bake at 180c (350f) for 10 minutes, until it is partially baked. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Wakame Filling

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1/2″ (1 cm) ginger, grated
  • 1 bunch beet leaves (mangold or kale), coarsely chopped
  • 2 carrots, sliced into matchsticks
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp wakame
  • 1 tbsp ground flax-seed, soaked in 4 tbsp water for 5 minutes
  • 1 small kohlrabi, slice into thin roundels
  • 1 thinly sliced carrot roundel

Soak the wakame in cold water for ten minutes.  Squeeze out the excess water and set aside.

Preheat oven to 180 c (350 f).

Heat the olive oil in a deep frying pan.  Add the onion, garlic, ginger and spices and saute for 5 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Add the beet leaves and the carrots and saute until the beet leaves are limp.   Remove from the flame and stir in the wakame and the the flax-seed. Spoon onto the half-baked pie crust.
Spread the kohlrabi roundels in a circle over the top of the pie to form a flower shape. Place the carrot roundel in the center of the circle. Carefully brush the kohlrabi flower with olive oil.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the top is golden.

Serve hot.

Serves 4-6 as a side dish.


Sima Herzfeld Navon has a clinic for holistic medicine and nutritional healing.  She also teaches healthy cooking.

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Lentil Stew

Last Updated on Sunday, 13 March 2011 02:29 Written by Flax Sunday, 13 March 2011 02:29

This stew contains both a protein and a green leafy vegetable.  Serve it on a bed of rice and you have a well-balanced, healthy and nourishing meal.  The prep. time for this dish is about ten minutes, and while you could theoretically get away with twenty minutes of cooking time, I prefer to let it cook slowly, over a low flame, for up to an hour. 

The green leafy vegetable that I use here has a bunch of names.  In Israel it is called both mangold and beet leaves.   It is one of my favorite green leafy vegetables to use in cooking because it is a Gush Katif product that is almost always available.  Look for it next to the lettuce in the refrigerated vegetable section.

For all of those who have been asking, pickled lemon is sold in supermarkets.  It is a commonly used ingredient in North African cooking and can usually be found next to the horseradish or the schug.  The hebrew name for pickled lemon is lemon baladi.  It is both salty and sour in flavor.  To prevent oversalting your food, add the pickled lemon first and then taste the dish before you add more salt.


  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed and diced
  • 2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 bunch mangold leaves (beet leaves), crudely chopped
  • 1 cup green lentils
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 bunch coriander, diced
  • 1 tsp pickled lemon
  • turmeric
  • chilli pepper (optional)
  • fenugreek (optional)
  • cumin
  • salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil in a wide sauce pan.  Saute the onion, garlic and spices until the onion is translucent.  Add the mangold leaves and sweat until the leaves are soft.  Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.  The lentils are cooked after 15 minutes but I like to cook this dish for up to an hour, leaving it to simmer until most of the water has boiled out and you are left with a thick sauce.

Serve hot.  Serves 4 as a main course.


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Mangold Salad

Last Updated on Thursday, 17 June 2010 01:18 Written by Flax Thursday, 17 June 2010 01:18

Mangold Salad


1 bunch Mangold (beet leaves)
olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup water

Cut the mangold in to 2 inch pieces. Heat oil in a frying pan with a lid. Add the mangold leaves and stems. Crush the garlic and add. Add the spices and water. Cover and cook for 3 minutes. Uncover and cook on a medium flame until the water boils out.

Serve hot on rice or cold as a salad served with bread.

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