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Nutrition & Cancer Prevention

Good nutrition is important for all individuals. The American Cancer Society provides guidelines on diet, nutrition, and cancer prevention. For some people, these guidelines may mean making a few small changes in their diet. However, for others, change will take more time and effort. It is important to remember that change is a matter of choice, and you can start making good choices right now.

Using Diet to Help Prevent Cancer

Choose most of the foods you eat from plant sources:

  • Eat five or more servings of fruit and vegetables each day.
  • Eat other foods from plant sources, such as bread, cereals, grain products, rice, pasta, or beans several times each day.

One serving may be...

  • l⁄2 cup of fruit or juice
  • 1 cup of leafy vegetable
  • 1 medium apple
  • 1⁄2 cup of cooked vegetable
  • 1 ounce of dry cereal
  • 1⁄2 cup of cooked cereal, rice, pasta

Choose foods made with whole grains rather than processed flour. These foods are higher in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Beans are also a great source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They are low in fat, high in protein, and can be used as a meat alternative.

Limit salty foods.

Limit consumption of alcoholic beverages if you drink at all:

  • Men: Limit alcohol to two drinks a day; Women: Limit alcohol to one drink a day.
  • A drink is 12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine, and 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.

Limit your intake of high-fat foods, particularly from animal sources:

  • Choose foods low in fat
  • Limit intake of meats, especially high-fat meats
  • Avoid processed meats such as ham, salami, bacon, pastrami, sausage, bratwurst, and hot dogs

Switching from high-fat to low-fat foods should be done gradually. Try using cooking spray instead of oil or skim milk instead of low-fat milk. Select baked, broiled, and roasted foods instead of fried.

Choose low-fat meals when eating out. Don’t be afraid to ask for lower-fat choices.

Be physically active to achieve and maintain a healthy weight:

  • Be at least moderately active for 30 minutes or more each day.
  • Stay within your healthy weight range.

Physical activity can be fun! Try walking briskly, swimming, gardening, or doing housework. The 30 minutes of activity does not have to be continuous either. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator is just one way to sneak in small amounts of activity throughout the day.