Week of March 1, 2010
Contact: Alice Bender, (202) 328-7744
Karen Collins, MS, RD, CDN
American Institute for Cancer Research
Q: I keep hearing about using less “processed foods” to reduce sodium consumption. How much difference can it make, and what are the most important switches?
A: Focus on the highest-sodium processed foods you use often.
- Tomatoes: A cup of tomatoes goes from 9 milligrams (mg) of sodium when fresh to 300 mg when canned with added salt, to 700 to 1200 mg in commercial tomato soup or spaghetti sauce. Canned tomatoes are a good source of highly absorbable lycopene, a natural antioxidant compound that may add protection against prostate and other cancers, so look for tomatoes canned with no added salt.
- Poultry and Fish: Plain fresh poultry, meat or fish goes from less than 100 mg of sodium in a deck-of-cards sized serving (three ounces) to 500 to 1000 mg in commercial breaded patties, nuggets or sauces. Choose fresh turkey or chicken (homemade or from the deli counter) for sandwiches instead of smoked turkey, ham and sausage-type lunchmeats.
- Salad Dressing: Two tablespoons of plain vinaigrette (olive oil and vinegar) on your salad add less than 5 mg of sodium; most bottled salad dressings contain 260 to 500 mg. Most “lite” dressings are lower in fat and calories, but no lower in sodium. Check labels to find the few that do keep sodium less than 100 mg, or take the leap and find that homemade salad dressings are simple to make and delicious.
- Grains: Products like rice and pasta go from less than 10 mg sodium per serving to 600 to 1200 mg when they are part of flavored mixes. Food need not lack flavor in order to control sodium. It’s just that regular versions of almost any “convenience” food contain a large amount of added sodium.
- Making the change: Buy plain products and season them with herbs, spices, onions, garlic, citrus juice and other flavorings that add almost zero sodium – or add just a pinch of salt – for delicious and healthful food. Most of these switches can lead you to a diet higher in nutrients and lower in calories, too.
Q: I’m going to begin a walking program. Do the shoes I wear really matter?
A: Yes. Researchers at the most recent American Institute for Cancer Research conference discussed results of studies on programs to help people increase physical activity, which is now identified as a key step to reduce risk of cancer and probably decrease its recurrence. Many people have difficulty maintaining their exercise program and the researchers noted that injuries are one of the most common reasons people abandon efforts to increase activity. Good shoes provide support that helps to decrease ankle, shin and knee injuries. Price can reflect both quality and marketing hype, so don’t assume you need the most expensive options. Ideally, start at an athletic shoe shop where employees are knowledgeable about the needs for different activities and different types of feet. If your feet have high arches, you need extra shock absorption and good stability to keep from sideways weight shifts that strain your ankles. If you have flatter arches, you need good mid-foot support and stronger heel control. A toe box wide enough for your feet and good flexibility around the ball of the foot are important for us all. No matter how good your shoes, as they wear out, they no longer provide the support they did when new. Some guides reference about how many miles you can get from your exercise shoes, but certainly when the traction on the soles is worn flat, heels are worn down, or you no longer feel the same sideways and heel support, it’s time for a new pair. If good shoes help you continue an active lifestyle without injury, they are a good investment in your health. For more tips on choosing shoes for physical activity, check with the American Council on Exercise.
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 a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.All active news articles