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Greens & The Neutropenic Diet

by Esther Trepal MS RDN on August 8, 2016

I just read that leafy greens are a cause of a lot of food-borne illnesses, but I also know they are supposed to be really good for you. If I am on the neutropenic diet should I stay away from them?

What a dilemma! Dark leafy greens, such as kale, collards, broccoli, and spinach, are among the most nutrient-dense vegetables. So they are frequently recommended for people living with cancer. The short answer to your question is, no you shouldn’t stay away from them.  But when eating greens, you do have to follow excellent food safety practices.

The low-microbial diet, also known as the neutropenic diet, is prescribed for people whose immune system is weakened. This makes them more vulnerable to bacterial infections, some of which can come from food.

To avoid these harmful bacteria, fruits and vegetables that are to be eaten raw have to be washed thoroughly. The best way is by holding the food under running water and brushing with a vegetable brush. Additionally, some people soak the food in vinegar water or a commercial rinse.

When it comes to greens, however, scrubbing with a brush is not really feasible. But they can still be eaten cooked, after careful washing. The cooking process should destroy harmful bacteria. Steaming them for 3 minutes should be enough.

Do you have a nutrition question for Esther? Send us a message at info@cfyl.org, post a comment on Facebook, or Tweet at us!  (All questions will remain anonymous when posted on the site.) 

 

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