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Did You Know There Are Foods That'll Keep Your Breasts Healthy?

Here are 10 foods that will help keep your breasts toned, firm and cancer-free.

Women's Health

Here's something that you might not have put a ton of thought into before—what are the signs that your breasts are healthy? While most of us know that giving ourselves self-breast exams (in order to check for any abnormal lumps) is important, what should we be factoring in beyond that? Well, according to many health experts, our breasts are in good shape if 1) the skin that covers our breasts is, for the most part, even-toned and the same texture; 2) they are warm in temperature (not hot but warm); 3) there is no discharge that's coming from our nipples (unless we're pregnant); 4) outside of pregnancy and PMS, they aren't tender; 5) the lymph nodes under our armpits aren't swollen and 6) if our breasts do have natural lumps in them (which is fairly common), they haven't changed in size.

In a nutshell, if your breasts are indicating something different from any of this, it's important to make an appointment with your physician as soon as possible. Aside from the fact that we, as Black women, have the highest mortality rate when it comes to breast cancer, our breasts are simply something that we shouldn't take for granted.They require tender loving care, just like any other part of our body does. One way to nurture both of your "girls" is to eat the kinds of foods that are proven to aid in keeping them toned and breast cancer-free. If you're interested in being proactive about the health and well-being of your breasts, here are 10 foods that you should consume on a regular basis.

1. Allium Veggies

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If you've got no clue what allium vegetables are, I'll break it down real quick. Allium is the Latin word for "garlic" and allium veggies consist of foods that have a strong amount of sulfur in them that are used for regular consumption as well as medicinal purposes. Some foods that fall into this category include garlic (of course), chives, leeks, scallions, shallots and onions. Allium veggies are good for your overall health and well-being because the sulfur that's in them can do everything to lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels and protect your heart to reduce bodily inflammation (thanks to the quercetin that's in them) and control your blood sugar levels. Since sulfur also contains powerful cancer-fighting properties, that's the main reason why allium veggies top the list of foods that can help to protect your breasts.

2. Turmeric

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Turmeric is a spice that's really popular in traditional Indian dishes. But whether or not you like Indian cuisine, this is something that you should have in your spice collection. Turmeric is a member of the ginger family and contains a fair amount of manganese, Vitamin C, potassium and iron. It's even got some fiber and protein in it too. As far as its health benefits go, turmeric can help to reduce depression-related symptoms, decrease symptoms that are connected to rheumatoid arthritis, fight obesity, relieve pain and, it's an awesome detoxifier. Two other benefits of turmeric include the fact that it can help to keep your skin youthful and glowing and, it can even help to keep you from getting type 2 diabetes. All of this is because of the chemical compound curcumin that's in turmeric. It's curcumin that also has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties that make it great for keeping your breasts healthy. And since turmeric is wonderful for your skin, it's a spice that can keep your breasts in great shape, from the inside out.

3. Celery

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Celery is made up of 95 percent water. So, if you're looking for a food that can help you out if you happen to be dehydrated (and you want to do something other than just drink water), celery can definitely help you out. Plus, it's loaded with health benefits as well. Believe it or not, even though it's got all of that water in it, celery is still packed with nutrients like vitamins B6, C and K, along with folate, potassium, antioxidants, electrolytes, enzymes and antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. All of these work together to reduce your cholesterol and blood pressure levels; inhibit the growth of bacteria that could ultimately lead to infections; get rid of bloating; lower your chances of experiencing a urinary tract infection (UTI) and fight bodily inflammation.

On the breast health tip, celery has high levels of the compound polyacetylenes in it. These work to stop cancer cells from even forming. And, since Vitamin C increases the production of collagen in your body, celery can help to keep the cancer cells away while making sure your breasts are supple and toned too. Pretty cool, huh?

4. Beans

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If you've ever wondered what the healthiest beans are, the list includes chickpeas, lentils, peas, kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans, navy beans and peanuts (yep, peanuts happen to fall into the beans and nuts categories). Beans are high in fiber, protein, iron, copper, folate and manganese. Beans also contain antioxidants to keep free radicals at bay, "good bacteria" (especially if they're black beans) to keep your gut in good condition, and ingredients that can keep you from getting a fatty liver (you can read more about that here). Also, thanks to the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents that beans have, they are just one more food that can keep cancer from creeping into your system.

5. Plums

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If you ever wondered when plums are in season, it's usually between the months of May and October. And while I'm sure you probably already know this, just for the record, the dried-out version of plums are prunes. Plums have about one gram of fiber in them, along with 10 percent of the Vitamin C and five percent of the Vitamin A that your system needs on a daily basis per serving. If you make eating them a consistent thing, plums can fill you up with antioxidants, lower your blood sugar levels, improve your bone health, lower your blood pressure, reduce your anxiety levels (which are typically higher when the antioxidants in your body are lower than they should be), and they are also great for your breasts. There are impressive studies that the properties in plums (and peaches) have the ability to not only kill already present cancer cells, they can do that without damaging any of the healthy cells that might be around them too.

6. Olive Oil

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The health benefits of olive oil are vast. Not only is it the kind of oil that is loaded with oleic acid (which is a healthy fat), it's also an oil that is packed with vitamins E and K, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. The combination of all of this can help to lower your blood pressure and even reduce your risk of having a stroke or a heart attack. Some other awesome things about olive oil is it's one oil that actually doesn't cause you to gain weight when you consume it, it is able to reduce symptoms that are related to rheumatoid arthritis, it can lower your type 2 diabetes risk and olive oil contains antibacterial properties that are able to fight the type of bacteria that can lead to stomach ulcers and stomach cancer.

The Vitamin E and antioxidants can keep your breasts looking young. And there are studies to reflect that extra virgin olive oil can reduce your risk of getting breast cancer.

7. Flaxseeds

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Flaxseeds are the kind of seeds that are great for you from head to toe (have you ever made your own flaxseed gel for your hair? If not, check out this tutorial video here). Health-wise, flaxseeds are a good source of protein, fiber and, they've got a ton of omega-3 fatty acids in them (along with a small trace of other nutrients like Vitamin B1, magnesium, phosphorus and others). The dietary fiber in flaxseeds can help to keep you regular. Plus, flaxseeds are able to help to lower your cholesterol levels, control your blood sugar and, if you're looking for something that can assist with weight loss, flaxseeds can do that too. Aside from flaxseeds also containing lignans and antioxidants to keep the skin on your breasts nice and smooth, lignans can help to decrease your chances of being diagnosed with breast cancer as well.

8. Fish

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If you're an avid fish lover, good for you, sis. Fish is an awesome source of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamins B2 and D, calcium, iron, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium. Every time you consume fish, you're playing a part in reducing your risk of heart disease and Alzheimer's disease. You're also lowering your risk of depression; improving your eye health; decreasing your risk of heart failure; decreasing your risk of being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease; speeding you your metabolism; alleviating your PMS symptoms (due to the fatty acids) and, rejuvenating your body after a workout (thanks to the combo of the Vitamin D and fatty acids). As far as what the healthiest fish are, salmon, mackerel, tuna, halibut, mahi-mahi, herring and freshwater whiting top the list. As far as why fish are good for your breast health, it's a lean form of protein; the leaner the meat is, the less of a chance you'll have of being diagnosed with breast cancer.

9. Walnuts

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When's the last time you cracked open a few walnuts? They've got more antioxidants in them than any other nut. Not only that but walnuts are also a wonderful source of omega-3 fatty acids; they promote a healthy gut; they can help to manage type 2 diabetes; they contain polyunsaturated fat, polyphenols and vitamin E that work together to keep your brain in great shape; they can keep your man's sperm in peak condition and, walnuts are another food that fights inflammation. And is it good for your girls? Well, there are studies that reveal that walnuts have been able to reduce the size of breast cancer tumors in mice. The way I see it, this means that these are the kind of nuts that can only help, not hurt.

10. Berries

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I don't care if you like acai berries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries or even grapes (yes, grapes are berries too)—all of them are a delicious way to care for your overall health and well-being. Matter of fact, when it comes to the list of superfoods that are in the world, berries are on it. That's because they are loaded with the kind of antioxidants that will help to reduce any oxidative stress that you may have in your body. Berries are also high in fiber, vitamins C and K and manganese. The ellagic acid in them can increase the collagen in your system so that your skin stays youthful looking. Berries also have properties in them that can keep your arteries nice and clear.

Finally, berries are the type of fruit that reduces inflammation while containing the antioxidants anthocyanins and resveratrol that work together to significantly decrease your cancer risk, long-term. So, do all of you, including your breasts, a favor and have a bowl of fresh berries this week. It's a delicious way to keep your girls tight—well, toned—and right. Literally.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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