The American Cancer Society Cookbook by Anne Lindsay with Diane J. Fink MD, (Hearst Books: $17.95, 269 pages, illustrated)
Science has gone a long way in finally acknowledging that healthful eating habits can reduce risk of many dreaded diseases. And cancer is one of them.
Researchers have suspected for decades that diet had something to do with cancer, but only in the last few years have they zeroed in on this area. The results of their work to date seem to show that some things we eat--fat, for example--may increase the risk of certain cancers, such as colon and breast, while others, such as fiber, may have a protective effect, especially for cancer of the colon.
Reducing the risk of cancer by eating healthfully and consciously is the basic message of the book and the authors drive it in well.
Right off the bat we like what authors Lindsay and Fink have done with the vital statistics in each of the recipes. In some recipes, only the calories with fat counts are given to help evaluate the dish if you are concerned with calories derived from fat, as all cancer-conscious individuals should be, according to the American Cancer Society.
Aware of Fat Content
The recipes consider fat, but not all recipes are low in fat. Salmon, eggs, pork, lamb or ham are not as low in calories or fat as whitefish and chicken but they are good foods, providing excellent nutrients that can be incorporated into the diet judiciously. What you do, is to moderate portions and be aware of the fat content. "Eat less fat. . . . Reducing fat intake is the quickest way to cut down on calories. Some fat is essential for nutrition so don't try to eliminate it completely," say the authors.
Tips for cutting fat from the diet are given, too. The recipes certainly help you do so, as well, by calling for fat-trimmed meat only, using nonfat or low-fat dairy products and minimal amounts of fat required in cooking. The book gives a proportionately higher number of recipes for less-fatty foods, such as chicken and fish, than the higher fat calorie counterparts--beef orpork. Most Americans, says Lindsay, consume about 40% of the calories from fat. The National Academy of Sciences has recommended reducing dietary fat to 30% of the calories. "More recent studies suggest that even this may not be low enough," say the authors.
Other recipes give counts on calories, grams, fat and the more important vitamins and minerals present in the recipe. For instance, a melon and yogurt soup contains 80 calories and 0.3 grams fat. It gets a rating of "excellent" for vitamins A and C and "good" for calcium.
Now let's take a meat recipe. A recipe for an apricot-kumquat-stuffed lamb contains 326 calories per serving and 10 grams fat. Fiber content is rated "good," the vitamin A and niacin content "excellent" and iron, thiamine, phosphorus and riboflavin minerals "good." The reason you would need to know if the dish contains good and excellent levels of Vitamins A and C, is that several studies have shown that Vitamin A-containing foods may lower the risk of cancers of the larynx, esophagus, lung, and bladder. Epidemiological studies indicate that Vitamin C-containing foods appear to protect against gastric and esophageal cancers.
That's a great service to the concerned eater and we applaud the authors for thinking of an intelligent way to deal with the problem of too much or too little or too silly information. Their nutrient information is right on target.
The same is true of fiber content, another important food element, which evidence shows may play a role in reducing the risk of serious bowel disorders.
The other good thing about this risk-reducing cookbook is the emphasis also on high fibrous foods and cruciferous vegetables, which the cancer experts propose as possibly protective against cancer. Cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower are said to possibly reduce the incidence of cancer of the colon, stomach and esophagus. In animal experiments, they seem highly effective in inhibiting the effects of carcinogenic chemicals. As a bonus, they are also an excellent source of fiber and certain vitamins.
So you are given recipes such as glazed Brussels sprouts with pecans, stir-fried broccoli with sweet peppers, several cabbage recipes, including scalloped cabbage au gratin, as well as a soup made with cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage.