Week of November 5, 2012
Contact: Alice Bender, (202) 328-7744

AICR HealthTalk
Karen Collins, MS, RD, CDN
American Institute for Cancer Research

Q: Is it true that eating more vegetables and fruit helps you lose weight? I’ve been trying, but my weight hasn’t budged.

A: Eating more vegetables and fruits is one great strategy to promote health both directly, through the nutrients and protective phytochemicals you get, and indirectly through help in reaching and maintaining a healthy weight. However, adding more vegetables and fruits will only promote weight loss if it helps you reduce total calorie consumption. Here are steps you can take to achieve that goal: First, make sure you eat vegetables and fruits that are low in calories. Most vegetables are naturally low in calories, but if they are deep-fried or served smothered in cheese or with high-calorie dips, they are no longer low-calorie. Select fiber-rich whole fruit – fresh or plain frozen – and limit fruit juice and dried fruits since they are more concentrated in calories. Second, substitute these low-calorie vegetables and fruits for higher calorie foods. Do this by adding more vegetables to stews, soups, casseroles and stir-fries without adding more fat. As you add more vegetables to these dishes, cut back on the amount of meat and rice or pasta you use. You can also serve larger side portions of vegetables that are steamed, microwaved or stir-fried with just a bit of oil and flavored with citrus juice, vinegar or a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. If you add fruit to an already large bowl of cereal, cut back on the cereal portion. Snack on vegetables or fruit instead of chips, not in addition to them. If you’re still having trouble, try tracking your calorie consumption with one of the website or smart phone apps, or see a registered dietitian to help you figure out why you are trouble losing weight.

Q: I have read about something called crispbread as a healthy alternative to crackers. What is this?

A: You may find crispbread in the cracker section of your grocery store, and sometimes varieties made in Europe are found in the international or ethnic food areas. Crispbread is a flat, dry type of bread or cracker, usually baked with whole-grain flour, making it a good source of fiber and nutrients. Crispbread crackers can be a great choice to serve with lower calorie dip or reduced-fat cheese, or as an accompaniment for soup or salad because it’s usually very low in fat. A one-ounce serving (which may be two or three slices, but up to 10 of the thin wafers) usually contains about 70 to 120 calories. However, check nutrition information, since some are made with refined flour and do not provide the fiber and whole-grain nutrition you want. Experiment with different varieties to find those with the textures and flavors you like best.

Our Mission: The American Institute for Cancer Research champions the latest and most authoritative scientific research from around the world on cancer prevention and survival through diet, weight and physical activity, so that we can help people make informed lifestyle choices to reduce their cancer risk.

We have contributed over $105 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. Find evidence-based tools and information for lowering cancer risk, including AICR’s Recommendations for Cancer Prevention, at


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