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Nutritionally Speaking

Healthful Diet Choices Reduce Risk of Cancer

April 28, 1988|TONI TIPTON

The correlation between diet and cancer is not new. In 1982 the National Research Council, after a study of the relationship of diet and nutrition to cancer, developed a set of interim dietary guidelines to help consumers make healthful food choices and hopefully reduce the number of persons at risk.

In 1984, the American Cancer Society introduced an official set of dietary guidelines to aid the public in the fight against the disease. The society's guidelines are: Avoid obesity; cut down on total fat intake; eat more high-fiber foods such as whole-grain cereals, fruits and vegetables; include foods rich in vitamins A and C in the daily diet; include cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi and cauliflower in the diet; be moderate in consumption of alcoholic beverages and be moderate in consumption of salt cured, smoked or nitrite-cured foods.

Many Not Following Recommendations

Yet, in spite of these recommendations, Americans are still not eating enough fruits, vegetables and whole-grain cereals, according to Blossom Patterson, lead investigator of a new National Cancer Institute study of eating patterns in this country.

Published in the March, 1988, issue of the American Journal of Public Health, the study showed that more than 40% of the U.S. adult population did not eat a single fruit and about 20% did not eat a vegetable on the day of the survey. Many of those queried also ignored high-fiber cereals and whole-grain breads--more than 80% did not consume any high-fiber cereals or whole-grain bread on the day of the interview. And, more than 40% ate at least one serving of lunch meat or bacon the survey day.

Because of these discouraging figures, the National Cancer Institute has expanded upon the society's dietary guidelines, including suggestions for how to incorporate the recommendations into daily life styles, and has set up the Cancer Information Service of California, a program designed to make the latest cancer information available to the public. The bilingual service is currently servicing more than 2,000 callers per month, at (800) 4-CANCER. Spanish-speaking staff members are available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. only.

The institute recommendations suggest that consumers:

--Double the amount of fiber currently eaten to include at least 20 grams a day by including whole-grain breads, bran cereals, brown rice, beans, potatoes and pasta. Some examples of the fiber content of foods are: 6 grams per 1 ear boiled corn on the cob; 8 grams per cup dried apricots; 3 grams per 1/2 cup cooked broccoli; 2 grams per slice whole-wheat bread; 4 grams per 1 ounce bran flake cereal.

--Eat foods low in fat by choosing lower-fat poultry and fish, water-packed canned fish, lean beef, veal, lamb and pork cuts with little or no marbling or visible fat; low-fat or skim-milk dairy products and diet or low-fat salad dressings and fruit instead of high-fat desserts.

--Increase intake of fruits and vegetables containing vitamins A and C. These include fresh or frozen dark-green and leafy vegetables and deep-yellow vegetables and fruits.

--Eat a well-balanced diet selecting from each of the major food groups: fruits and vegetables; breads, cereals and grains; meat, poultry, eggs and fish; and milk cheese and yogurt.

--Maintain proper body weight by increasing physical activity, eating smaller portions and eating fewer "empty-calorie" foods (sugar and sweets) and limiting consumption of alcohol.

--Drink alcohol in moderation, limiting intake to one or two drinks per day: 1.5 ounces hard liquor, 4 ounces wine or 12 ounces beer.

--Use low-fat methods of food preparation instead of frying; bake or oven-broil, boil or stew, skimming off fat; trim all visible fat from meats before and after cooking; use non-stick cookware and use vegetable coating spray in place of margarine, butter and oils; substitute broth for grease in cooking main dishes and accompaniments; season vegetables with herbs, spices and lemon juice in place of salts and salad dressings.


1/4 cup oil

1 cup bulgur

1 cup thinly sliced carrots

2 cups broccoli florets

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon oregano leaves, crushed

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

1 3/4 cups vegetable juice cocktail

1 cup thinly sliced zucchini

1 cup sliced small mushrooms

1 cup shredded Swiss cheese

1/2 cup sliced green onions

Heat oil in 10-inch skillet or wok and cook bulgur, carrots, broccoli, garlic, oregano and sesame seeds, stirring quickly and frequently about 2 minutes. Add vegetable juice, zucchini and mushrooms. Heat to boiling, then reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, 15 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally.

Stir in cheese and garnish with onions. Makes 12 servings.


1 cup vegetable juice cocktail

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

1 tablespoon vinegar

2 teaspoons honey

2 cups cut green beans

1 cup sliced carrots

1 cup diagonally sliced celery

1 cup quartered medium mushrooms

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