Over one-third of all cancers can be prevented by healthy diet, physical activity and weight management. February—National Cancer Prevention Month—provides the perfect excuse to revive those dwindling New Year’s resolutions and start working towards a healthy lifestyle.
Choose mostly plant foods, limit red and avoid processed meats.
Preparing meals focused around vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans will fortify your body and help with cancer prevention. Fruits and vegetables are especially important since they have cancer-fighting compounds (antioxidants and phytochemicals). If you include a variety and at least five servings per day of fruits and veggies, you will be protected against a wide range of cancers.
We all know what to stay away from: high-calorie, sugar- sweetened treats and junk foods. But did you know that red and processed meats should be limited as well? There has been convincing evidence linking red and processed meats to colon cancer. Aim to limit red meat to 18 ounces of lean cuts per week and avoid processed meats like ham, hot dogs, sausage and bacon.
Be physically active every day in any way for at least 30 minutes.
Regular physical activity will help you maintain a healthy body weight, while also strengthening your immune system. Both of which lower your risk for developing cancer and other chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.
Every day – in any way. That means you don’t need a gym membership – you just need to get your heart pumping. As long as you are moving for 30 minutes, anything can count: walking, riding a bike, mowing the yard, vacuuming, shoveling or dancing. If you aren’t used to doing much activity, build up slowly and do what you can until you reach the goal of 30 minutes every day.
Aim to be a healthy weight throughout life.
Once you start following the first two guidelines about diet and physical activity, you’ll find it easier to accomplish this one! Maintaining a healthy weight will help lower risk of cancer. Carrying excess weight has been linked to six different types of cancer. In fact, where we store the weight can make a difference! Too much fat around our waists has been linked specifically to colon and breast cancer.
So this month especially, keep these three guidelines in mind and remember: It’s never too early and never too late to start making choices that improve your chances for good health.
Here’s a low-calorie, low-sodium recipe to try! It provides a variety of cancer-fighting ingredients, is easy to make and can be customized to your family’s tastes!
Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups cooked brown rice—this provides more fiber than white rice!
- 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
- 1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
- 2 cups meatless spaghetti sauce (low sodium)
- 6 large bell peppers (any color)—go for variety of colors to get more health benefits!
- ¾ cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded—use low-fat cheese for less calories!
Preheat oven to 425°F.
In large pan, sauté onions in olive oil until onions are transparent color. Add garlic, rice, corn, beans and tomatoes, and heat for 1-2 minutes. Add spaghetti sauce and simmer for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove sauce from heat.
Cut tops off of bell peppers and remove seeds from inside and rinse. Spoon sauce mixture into bell peppers, fill to the top. Sprinkle with cheese. Place stuffed peppers onto baking sheet and bake in oven for 10-12 minutes, or until tops are golden brown.
Makes 6 stuffed peppers.
Per pepper: 273 calories, 5.4g fat, 12g protein, 48g carbohydrate, 9g fiber, 315 mg sodium.
Written by: Liz Hill, RD, registered dietitian with the Agnesian Cancer Center in Fond du Lac, WI.
Information provided by the American Institute of Cancer Research (AIRC).