Guidance on recipes for people undergoing chemotherapy focuses on various colored fruits and vegetables, as well as other plant foods, such as whole grains, seeds, and nuts. These are all rich in nutrients that help promote health.
The recipes should also include protein. While peas and beans are good sources, a person may also eat well-cooked eggs, fish, poultry, and dairy.
Experts also advise using herbs, spices, and aromatic vegetables, such as onions and garlic, to flavor dishes. This may help tempt someone experiencing a reduced appetite.
This article lists suitable foods for people undergoing chemotherapy and offers some recipes to try.
Foods for people receiving chemotherapy include those that are part of a healthy, balanced diet. The
Focus on plant-based foods
These provide vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals, which are compounds that support wellness. They include:
- whole grains
Eat a variety of colors of fruits and vegetables
Including a range of fruit and vegetables helps provide a mix of natural health-promoting nutrients. This includes bright and colorful vegetables, which offer a range of antioxidants.
Learn more about antioxidants.
Limit or avoid red meat and processed meat
These foods have a link to a higher risk of certain types of cancer, according to a
- hot dogs
- lunchmeats, such as bologna
Limit or avoid sugar-sweetened drinks
Sugar intake links to a higher risk of cancer and cancer death, reports research from 2021. These include:
- sweetened tea
- fruit drinks with added sugar
Limit or avoid processed foods
These link to an increase in the risk of overall cancer and breast cancer, states a
- processed snacks, such as chips
- microwave meals
- canned vegetables
- breakfast cereals
Include protein foods
- well-cooked eggs
- Greek yogurt
Eat high calorie foods when necessary
If a person needs to gain weight, experts advise the consumption of high calorie foods, such as:
Below are some recipes to try that incorporates these recommendations.
This healthy breakfast contains protein from dairy foods, fiber from oats, and phytochemicals from fruit.
- 1 chopped mango
- ½ cup blueberries
- ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
- 2/3 cup milk
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp raw honey
- ½ cup oats
- 2 tbsp sesame seeds
- Combine fruit, yogurt, milk, maple syrup, and honey in a blender.
- Add in oats and seeds.
- Divide into two bowls, cover, and refrigerate overnight. Overnight oats can last for 5 days in the fridge.
This is a hearty vegetable dish with protein from the beans and vitamin A from the sweet potato.
- 1 large sweet potato
- 1 cup onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cans of black beans
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 2 ½ cups water
- 3 tsp chili powder
- ½ tsp ground chipotle
- 3 tsp lime juice
- ½ tsp cumin
- ½ tsp salt
- Peel and chop sweet potato.
- Add all ingredients to a large pot and bring to a boil.
- Turn the heat down, and cook uncovered until the potato is tender. It should take around 15 minutes.
- Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.
This tasty vegetable dish could serve as a light lunch or a heartier lunch alongside a wholegrain sandwich made of whole grain bread. The carrots provide beta carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A.
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 4 cups peeled carrots, chopped into small pieces
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 ½ cups low salt vegetable broth
- 1 tsp fresh minced ginger
- 1 cup orange juice
- ½ tsp fresh lemon juice
- salt and black pepper to taste
- dash red pepper
- Heat oil in a large pot.
- Sauté the onion and carrots for about 8 minutes. Add garlic and sauté an additional 2 minutes.
- Add broth and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for about 12 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes.
- Puree the mixture in a blender or food processor.
- Pour the mixture back into the pot and add the remaining ingredients.
- Simmer for a few minutes and serve.
Salmon is a good source of protein and healthy fat. A person can serve this with a salad or roasted vegetables.
- 4 tbsp mixture of chopped sesame seeds and hazelnuts
- 2 tbsp oats
- zest half a lemon
- a few sprigs of fresh coriander
- 8 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 salmon fillets
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Pulse the first four ingredients in a blender with 4 tsp of olive oil.
- Put salmon skin-side down in a baking tray with the other 4 tsp of oil. Spoon the pulsed mixture on top of each filet.
- Bake for 20 minutes and serve.
This dish is rich in fiber from brown rice and healthy protein from lentils and tuna.
- ½ cup uncooked lentils
- 2 cans drained tuna packed in water
- 4 sliced green onions
- 1 ½ cups cooked brown rice
- ½ cups chopped fresh parsley
- ½ cup chopped cucumber
- 1 diced bell pepper
- ½ cup sliced pitted olives
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- juice of ½ large lemon
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 ½ tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 1 tsp raw honey
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cook the lentils in water for 20 minutes. Drain.
- Combine the lentils with salad ingredients.
- Add the dressing ingredients to a container with a tight-fitting lid. Shake until well mixed.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and serve.
This makes a quick and easy but nutritious lunch. The cheese provides protein, while the other ingredients provide fiber and phytonutrients.
- ½ avocado
- ½ tomato
- small handful arugula
- 2 slices 100% whole grain bread
- 2 slices cheddar cheese
- 2 dried, chopped apricots
- 1 tbsp balsamic or other types of vinegar
- Slice the avocado and tomato.
- Rince the arugula.
- Assemble ingredients on one slice of bread and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.
- Close the sandwich with the other slice.
This is a healthier version of classic recipes for this comfort food. It is rich in fiber and other nutrients from seeds, nuts, and whole wheat.
- 3 ripe medium bananas, mashed
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ½ cup milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3 tbsp sesame seeds
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 ¼ cups whole wheat flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 4 tbsp chopped pecans
- pinch salt
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to whip together the mashed bananas, olive oil, milk, vanilla, sesame seeds, and sugar for 2 minutes.
- Stir in the remaining ingredients until well combined, but be careful not to overmix.
- Spread a thin coating of olive oil over a loaf pan.
- Pour in batter and bake for 65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and slice after cooling slightly.
Suitable recipes for people undergoing chemotherapy feature a variety of plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds. Recipes should limit red and processed meats, along with processed foods and sugary beverages.
The diet should include sources of protein. While beans and peas are ideal, a person can also eat fish — such as salmon — as well as poultry and dairy foods.
The nutritional requirements of people with cancer will differ. For instance, those experiencing weight loss may need high calorie foods. A person can talk with their doctor about specific dietary recommendations.