Parents: How’s your teen daughter’s diet? If it’s full of vegetables, fruits and other good sources of dietary fiber, she may be doing her health a favor in more ways than one. A new study suggests she may be lowering her future risk of breast cancer.

The study, published in Pediatrics, looked at health data from more than 44,000 women who answered questions about their diets in high school and beyond. Those who said they ate the most fiber-rich foods (providing about 28 grams of fiber per day) as teens and young adults appeared to have a significantly lower breast cancer risk — 16 to 19 percent lower — than those who ate the least (less than 15 grams per day).

Related: A New Reason to Cut Back on Sugar: Breast Cancer

Researchers aren’t sure why a high-fiber diet might influence breast cancer risk. One possible way is by decreasing a woman’s exposure to estrogen prior to menopause.

The authors write: “There is longstanding evidence that dietary fibers may reduce circulating estrogen levels through changes in the gut microbiome and increased excretion of estrogens in the gastrointestinal tract. Soluble fibers are believed to decrease intestinal cholesterol absorption, and there is emerging evidence that cholesterol byproducts may have estrogenic effects.”

Whether or not eating the recommended 25 to 30 grams of fiber a day can help prevent breast cancer, it’s still a smart move for better health. But how to get a busy, picky teen to eat more fiber?

Related: How to Get More Fiber into Your Kid’s Diet

Try these three recipes from the Meal Makeover Moms, courtesy of Liz Weiss, MS, RD, coauthor of “The Moms’ Guide to Meal Makeovers.” All contain between 7 and 9 grams of fiber per serving.

Black Bean Enchiladas with Pumpkin Sauce

black bean enchiladas(Photo: Meal Makeover Moms/Meal Makeover Moms)


  • 1 tablespoon expeller pressed canola oil
  • 6 green onions, chopped (white and light green parts only)
  • One 6-ounce bag baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 cups shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese, divided
  • One 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
  • One 15-ounce can enchilada sauce (mild, medium, or hot)
  • 1/2 cup canned 100% pure pumpkin
  • Eight 8-inch whole wheat flour tortillas


1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly oil or coat a 9 x 13-inch baking pan or dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the green onions and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 3 minutes. Add the spinach, cumin, and chili powder and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until wilted, 3 more minutes. Transfer the cooked veggies to a large bowl and set aside to cool, about 5 minutes. When cool, stir in 1 cup of the cheese, beans, corn, and cilantro until well combined.

3. Meanwhile, place the enchilada sauce and pumpkin in a medium-size bowl and whisk until well combined. Spread 1/2 cup of the mixture evenly on the bottom of the prepared baking pan.

4. To assemble the enchiladas, place 1/2 cup of filling down the center of each flour tortilla. Roll up tightly, tucking in the ends, and place seam side down in the dish. Cover evenly with the remainder of the sauce, sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup cheese, and bake, uncovered, until bubbly, about 20 minutes.

Lentil Alphabet Soup

lentil alphabet soupThis veggie-rich soup is vegetarian and vegan and easy to prepare. If your kids are young enough to like alphabet pasta, great. If not, use regular pasta. (Photo: Meal Makeover Moms/Meal Makeover Moms)

Peanut Butter and Banana Smoothie Bowl

This is a “smoothie” that’s meant to be eaten with a spoon. It can work as a breakfast or a snack, with any toppings you like, including nuts for more fiber. The Moms note: “When you blend together frozen banana, soy milk, cocoa powder, chia seeds, and peanut butter, what you get is a rich, nutritious, and satisfying smoothie bowl with an impressive 10 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber.”

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Marianne has been producing content that informs and inspires for more than 20 years, with a deep focus on bringing readers accurate, actionable advice and helping them live healthier, safer lives. Before launching SafeBee, she was executive editor of Sharecare, the health website and social network. Previously, she developed more than two dozen illustrated consumer health books for Reader’s Digest. Her writing has appeared in numerous outlets including Arthritis Today and WebMD. Her favorite safety tip: Know the purpose of every medication you take and under what circumstances you can stop taking it.