11 Best Foods to Eat During Chemotherapy (Odisha-India)

Don’t underestimate the power of nutrition that may make or break your survival.

What are the best foods to eat during chemotherapy that will make you stay in the course of chemo treatment for your recovery from this tough symptom?

Controlling obesity coupled with maintaining adequate nutrition when you are suffering from severe side effects from chemotherapy toxins can pose serious challenge to what you eat. Moreover, your taste buds and saliva are not cooperating with you.

Let us discuss these 11 best cancer chemotherapy superfood for the optimal nutrition of cancer patients. Nutrition is important it reduces/limits drug induced side effects.

The foods mentioned in the article come from a patient who underwent chemotherapy for 16 consecutive weeks at Sparsh Hospital in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. Unlike western hospitals, there are no nurse practitioners in the hospital to advise you about the diet. There is no avocado, salmon and things of that type which are plentiful in USA and not available here. The doctor told this patient to eat everything except guava fruit and grapes. We read research of our own and consulted doctors in USA through our friends and families.  The foods recommended here is a compilation of the above knowledge base but limited to what is available locally in Odisha.

  1. Oats

oat is loaded with nutrients that are compelling to be included in cancer diet. (19% carbohydrate, 33% dietary fiber, 21% protein, 33% selenium, less than 1% sugar)

It is a highly nutritious,  versatile and malleable food which one can use as drink, porridge, biscuits. Upma, Idli, Dosa. You can add fruits, nuts and seeds so you like it in your chemo mouth.

Oat -Best-Foods to Eat-During-Chemotherapy


  • It is a gluten-free whole grain and helps in weight loss.
  • Oats contain soluble fibers that help digestion and metabolism. They are high in protein.
  • It is feeling keeping away your hunger for quite a while that leads to body weight reduction.
  • Oats contain a unique group of anti-oxidants protecting DNA
  • Helps in bowel movement helping constipation during chemotherapy.

40-45 gm of uncooked oats will suffice your breakfast. It can be soaked in water for 30 minutes and grinding makes a drink. Add blueberries, and guava pieces, bananas for better taste and make it more nutrient rich.

Quinoa, Brown Rice and Ethiopian Teff are some other super grains which belong to this category.

Cook it with boiled water. Add a fruit or two of your choice. You may just cook with raw cumin seeds and shredded raw ginger or eat such as such depending on the taste in your mouth.

  1. Flaxseeds 

Flax seed is a superior nutrient as chemotherapy food. It is a rich source of

  • Omega 3 fatty acid (link)
  • Lignan
  • Fibers
  • Alpha linolenic acid (ALA)

Flaxseed is considered as the best plant source of the essential omega-3 fatty acid which helps improve immunity. Studies suggest that the omega-3 fatty acid may have anticancer properties. Flax seeds contain more than 26 anti-cancerous properties. It contain few hundred times of lignin compared to other food. Lignan helps

  • Reduce cancer
  • increase good HDL cholesterol
  • Decrease bad LDL cholesterol

ALA is shown to suppress growth, size and proliferation of cancer cells. It is more available to the body in the form of oil.It shows significant prohibitive effect against breast cancer and reduced rate of mortality with people living with breast cancer. Beneficial effects have been seen with 25 g doses of milled flax seeds.

Clinical trials have shown cancer patients injecting 40-50 gm of flax seeds per day for a year have shown reduced rate of cancer.

Grind raw flax seeds daily before you eat. Grinding the bulk and storing it longer, goes bad. This powder could be used in curries, roti, dal or salad. The use as “chatua” along with berries or making cakes with powdered flax seeds can help hide its test while investing.

You can bake flax seeds at 178⁰C for 2 hours and still keep the composition. So you could introduce them to your favorite baking dishes and disguise its flavor.

  1. Pomegranate


Recognized as an entire pharmacy in Ayurveda, this delicious fruit with its ornamental seeds and dark lavender colored juice is jewel crown in cancer chemotherapy and cancer prevention.

  • It improves memory and help relieves joint pain which is side effects of chemotherapy.
  • It inhibits cancer cell proliferation.
  • It is a breast cancer blocking superfood.
  • In mouse model, the pomegranate juice has shown efficacy against growth and spread of lungs cancer and lung cancer from developing.

You may add the seeds to the breakfast cereal , have as a midday snack or drink a water diluted juice. Eat seeds from half of a small sized pomegranates.

4. Broth and Soups

If you find good bones and meat of healthy animals (hormones not used for raising them) you boil them with different spices like turmeric, black pepper, cumin seeds. You can buy broth but home cooked fresh foods are always recommended.

5. Eggs

Research has confirmed tumor-inhibitory effect of egg white using experimental tumors. Eggs contain many anti-oxidant compounds in its vitamins, minerals and trace elements.

Egg yolk contains high amounts of

  • Vitamins A, D, E, K, B1, B2, B5, B6, B9, B12.
  • Iron, Selenium and Zinc

Egg white contains high amounts of

  • B2, B3 and B5
  • B1, B6, B8, B9 and B12

Eating two eggs per day satisfies 10-30% of vitamins and minerals of the body.

6. Almond

You may use 8-10 pieces of almond as snack any time. It comes with healthy fat and protein, fiber, ample of vitamins and multiple minerals.

Eating a handful of almond could provide 1/8th of your daily protein intake.


Almond- Best Foods to Eat During Chemotherapy

Eat almonds which are soaked in water overnight or light toast it before you eat. Eating raw nuts may give you stomach pain.

Drink almond milk, or eat s spoon of almond butter.

Almonds can be fairly expensive to buy.  If you are looking for alternate nuts, walnuts and small amounts of peanuts could substitute. Boil raw peanuts with little salt, peel off and enjoy.

  1. Lentils and Legumes

  • Lentils are great sources of protein.
  • They are readily available and varieties of them are available.
  • They make nutritious soups as such or with vegetables and meat.

Soak them in water. Pressure cook the lentils to make them tender.  Add salt to taste. Use turmeric, cinnamon, roasted cumin and black pepper to spruce up the flavor. If you are vegetarian, this becomes one your major protein source. You may save boiled lentils for a snack.

7. Fish

Fish is an excellent source of protein and rich micronutrients and vitamins. Cold water fatty fish like salmon, sardines and mackerel containing omega-3 have good nutrition status in western countries. With fish one always has to worry about mercury.

In Odisha, we can’t avail them directly. We could not rely on their sanity and purity buying from Amazon. Amazon does not sale organic salmon either.

The diet we choose was mostly plant based. However, based on availability fresh Rohu and Pohala from lime treated water from local ponds, the diet added one small piece (70-75 g) to the lunch meals 2 times a week. It is steamed or sautéed in a small spoon of oil.

Here are other fishes you can consider to fill into your nutrition.

They are filled with protein, some essential amino acids and micronutrients. It serves as a great nutrition source during chemotherapy little of lemon to a sautéed or steam fish to make it more appealing to a chemo mouth.

Be careful of the source it is coming from to stay away from contamination.

8. Sattu

(Chatua in Oriya)

A ground mixture of roasted gram flour, ragi, wheat, flax seeds, almonds, cashews can be an easy treat for a chemotherapy patient struggling to eat. This powder can be bought from Indian grocery stores or could be easily made at home.

Get few spoons in water and make into drinkable slurry. Add some fruit blend to enhance the test as per your taste.

This nutritious blend can help you during chemo and otherwise in terms of having a healthy diet. Healthy drinks are good during tasteless tongue and nauseated mind.

  1. Broccoli, Cabbages and dark Leafy Greens

One can’t go wrong with eating broccoli, cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables. They are

  • High in fiber
  • Low in calorie
  • Rich in vitamin C, E, K, folates and minerals


  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Protects DNA
  • Stops spreading cancers
  • Inhibit the formation of blood vessel and migration of tumor cells

While lab animal studies show positive correlation of different kinds of cancer, the studies with human has been inconsistent.

But some studies shows intake of especially cruciferous and orange yellow vegetables was associated with lower cancer risk.

Do not eat them raw. Stir fry or add to soups. Steam it and eat.

9. Mustard oil

Mustard oil is rich with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty and also cancer-fighting properties (Non secure http://www.fnbnews.com/FB-Specials/Cancer-fighting-mustard-oil—The-healthy-cooking-choice). While olive oil is mostly recommended as cooking oil, it is quite expensive and adulterated in India. It can quickly get rancid.

One can easily access pure oil by milling mustard seeds and use. Use it sparingly in

10. Pumpkin Seeds

Lignans in pumpkin seeds are responsible for preventing breast cancer in terms of having a healthy diet. Diets rich in pumpkin seeds were also reported to be associated with lower levels of gastric, breast, lung, and colorectal cancer in rats. ().

  • Helps strengthen immune system.
  • They help you sleep better and improve mood which is beneficial when you are on treatment for a chronic disease.
  • It is rich source of Magnesium that participates in greater than 300 biochemical reactions.Toast the seeds and snack on them. They are delicious.
  1. Vitamin-d

Vitamin D can reduce the risk of breast cancer by inhibiting the process of cancer invasion and metastasis.  Incorporate vitamin-d rich foods in your diet and talk to your doctor if you are found D-deficient.

Learn what to eat during cancer chemotherapy treatment. Don’t undermine the power of nutrition like oats, almonds, lentils, eggs that may decide your survival.

We have a publication on What Not to Eat During Chemotherapy + Grocery List

Wish you all the best for a speedy recovery!









Anusuya Choudhury


  1. Your article got my attention for several reasons. First, anything addressing the treatment of cancer is worthy of attention. and Second, stating that the foods had to be those available locally in Odisha, India was intriguing as I was born in India. 

    As I read it the food that caught my attention was the Pomegranate. We have two Pomegranate bushes in our back yard and reap over 200 fruits on season in Autumn. I like making juice to drink as well as eating the seeds too. As  kid in India I hated the seeds as they got caught in my teeth. Now I crunch them and eat the seeds as I was told that is one of the most nutritious parts of the fruit. 

    The fact that Pomegranate is a cancer fighting food makes me respect it even more. 

    Thanks for an amazing article.


    • Hi Edwin,

      Pome is a winner food for patents under chemo with their mouth either testing salty or bitter.

  2. I can actually resonate better with a couple fo the foods you shared here because my sister ate or feed on this during the time she was placed on chemotherapy during the time she was fighting her cancer. She is among the lucky few that actually won the war against the deadly disease. So, seeing this here, I could resonate better to see it here m thumbs up to you for sharing 

    • Hi Kimberly,

      Sharing your personal experience helps. Does she know her bacterial microbiome diversity which is the indicator of good health decrease during chem treatment. I am happy she got well from this deadly disease. She has to take extra care of her gut health.

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