Take Stock of Your Kitchen Cupboard: Five Changes to Fight Cancer

Pantry JarsDust off that New Year’s healthy eating resolution and put good intentions into action for the new season. Whether you’re looking to pack a healthier lunch, eat less sugar or lose a few inches, follow this AICR blueprint for your successful plan.

Buy it. Stock it. Eat it.

Your cupboard contents whether cookies and chips or whole grains and fruits - will likely creep into your diet. By changing the food you have on hand you’ll take a solid first step to support your efforts. Kitchens full of fruits, nuts and whole grains make it easy to try new meal and snack combinations that are high in flavor but low in added salt, sugar and fat.

Five Changes for Success

Follow these simple rules for your “pantry make over.”

1. Work in Whole Grains

Whole grains like brown rice, whole-wheat bread and rolled oats are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals which protect cells from the types of damage that may lead to cancer. Moreover, limiting calorie-dense foods and eating a predominantly plant-based diet that includes whole grains can help with weight maintenance.

Try these:

  • Whole-grain rye, 100% whole-wheat or whole-grain gluten-free crackers
  • Cereal made from whole oats or other whole-grain

Instead of:

  • Saltine or “buttery” crackers
  • Cereals made from processed rice or corn

2. Scale Back Sugar

Foods high in sugar, such as candy, cookies and sodas, are calorie (or energy) dense foods. AICR’s expert report found convincing evidence that these foods contribute to weight gain, overweight and obesity. Replacing those foods with low calorie (or low energy) dense foods can help prevent weight gain.

Try these:

  • Unsweetened seltzer water or black, green and herbal teas
  • Plain instant oatmeal with a handful of blueberries (110 calories, no added sugar)

Instead of:

  • Sodas (12 oz. cans have 9 teaspoons added sugar)
  • Sweetened oatmeal packs (155 calories, 4 tsp added sugar)

3. Slash Sodium

Too much salt increases risk for high blood pressure and stomach cancer. Americans get most of their sodium from highly processed canned, boxed and frozen foods, not salt added at the table.

Try these:

  • 3/4 oz. unsalted or lightly salted almonds, pecans or other nuts (0-40 mg sodium; 130 calories)
  • Crispbread with light cream cheese (1 serving 100 mg sodium; 112 calories)

Instead of:

  • 1 oz chips (160 mg sodium; 150 calories)
  • Cheese flavored snack crackers (1 serving: 410 mg sodium; 170 calories)

4. Fill Up with Fiber Foods

Foods containing fiber lower risk for colorectal cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Plant foods whole grains, vegetables, beans and fruit are your ticket to a fiber-rich diet.

Try this:

  • 3/4 cup canned pears in juice (90 calories, 3 g fiber)
  • 1/3 cup dried apricots (100 calories, 3 g fiber)

Instead of:

  • 2 fruit roll-ups (100 calories, 0 g fiber)
  • 3 chocolate crème cookies (160 calories, 1 g fiber)

5. Get Back to Basics

You can save money and move to a healthier diet by incorporating often overlooked basics. Beans, low-sodium canned tuna and salmon and peanut butter are examples of powerhouse foods that won’t break your budget.

Try this:

  • Snack: 1 Tbsp. peanut butter on 1 slice whole-wheat bread (180 calories) with 1 cup skim milk (90 calories)
  • Main Dish: Whole-wheat pasta tossed with tuna, vegetables and 2 tsp olive oil (340 calories, 12 g fat, 10 g fiber)

Instead of:

  • Snack: Snack box with processed meat, cracker, cheese and cookie (400 calories)
  • Main Dish: Frozen pasta entrée (400 calories, 18 g fat, 4 g fiber)

You’ll find more ideas and recipes for quick, easy and low-budget snacks and meals in AICR’s Homemade for Health brochures.


All active news articles