For Immediate Release: May 20, 2010
Contact: Mya Rae Nelson, 202-600-3047
Do Away with Dense Diet:
AICR Shares Tips for Weight Control and Cancer Prevention
WASHINGTON, DC – Just in time for warm weather, the American Institute for Cancer Research is offering simple science-based strategies to reduce the density of your diet. Eating a diet low in calorie density, says AICR experts, will help you eat healthier, add flavor, lose or maintain weight, and prevent cancer – and all without being hungry.
“With a low calorie-dense diet you can actually fill your plate with more food and take in fewer calories,” says Alice Bender, MS, RD, Nutrition Communications Manager for AICR. “Diets containing foods low in calorie density – such as vegetables, fruits, and foods high in fiber – can also protect against cancer.
“Lower calorie-dense diets probably protect people from becoming overweight, and we know that overweight and obesity increase the risk for many common cancers. Also, foods low in calorie density are generally packed with phytochemicals and other healthy compounds that help prevent cancer,” said Bender.
A new AICR review of the research on energy density and weight loss has found that a diet low in energy density can play an important role in reaching and maintaining a healthy weight. The updated online content is available at Losing Weight: Is Calorie Density the Answer?
Calorie density (commonly referred to as energy density in scientific circles) simply refers to the number of calories in a certain weight of food. Foods low in calorie density contain fewer calories per bite (or ounce) than foods higher in calorie density. The key is water. Water adds weight and volume to food without the calories; foods high in water are generally low in calorie density. Broths, non-starchy vegetables and fruits are low calorie-dense foods.
Fat is the most concentrated source of calories; foods high in fat are generally high in calorie density. Oils, cookies and nuts are examples of high calorie-dense foods.
Research suggests that we tend to regulate how much we eat based on the weight of food more than the food itself, says Bender. “You can be just as satisfied eating the same amount of food with fewer calories. Low calorie-dense foods contain a lot of water and that can help you feel full. Many of these same foods are also high in fiber. Fiber adds bulk without calories, so it fills you up.”
Bender offers the following tips to help reduce the density of your diet and reduce the risk of cancer:
- Fill up Before You Eat: Start your meal with a salad with light dressing or low-calorie soup, such as a broth based soup – this can help fill you up and you will eat less of the higher calorie main meal, but be just as satisfied.
- Substitute Low for High: Select low-fat or nonfat milk and cheese, lean meats and low-fat salad dressings instead of the higher-fat versions.
- Replacement Rules: Replace some of your portion of high-fat foods and high-calorie dense protein with vegetables and fruits. For example, add tomatoes, broccoli and carrots to a pasta salad then reduce the amount of pasta and mayonnaise. Be careful not to replace high-fat foods with high sugar foods.
- Limit Sugary Beverages: Sugary beverages have a lot of calories, but they don’t fill you up or make you satisfied as much as whole foods.
- Small Amounts of the High Stuff: Include small portions of healthy high calorie-dense foods, such as peanut butter, nuts and healthy oils, which have an important role in a balanced diet.
- Go NAP: A low-energy diet fits in well with the New American Plate approach to eating: 2/3 (or more) vegetables, fruits, whole grains or beans and 1/3 (or less) animal protein.
- Keep a Clean Table: Other than vegetables, don’t leave serving bowls on the table.
- Get Physical: Eating a low calorie-dense diet is one part of a strategy for weight loss or maintenance. Make physical activity a regular part of your daily life: It helps with weight loss and maintenance and helps prevent cancer independent of body fat.
Photos: Dr. Barbara Rolls, Penn State University, used with permission.
Download the full size version of these photos.
- Overweight and obesity increases the risk for seven common cancers. AICR’s 2009 policy report found that approximately 100,000 cancers occurring in the United States every year can be attributed to excess body fat.
- The AICR brochure More Food, Fewer Calories contains strategies on following a low-calorie dense diet along with more information on the health benefits.
The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $96 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, www.aicr.org. AICR is part of the global network of charities that are dedicated to the prevention of cancer. The WCRF global network is led and unified by WCRF International, a membership association that operates as the umbrella organization for the network. The other charities in the WCRF network are World Cancer Research Fund in the UK (www.wcrf-uk.org); Wereld Kanker Onderzoek Fonds in the Netherlands (www.wcrf-nl.org); World Cancer Research Fund Hong Kong (www.wcrf-hk.org); and Fonds Mondial de Recherche contre le Cancer in France (www.fmrc.fr).
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