On this Valentine’s Day, you can embrace a diet that protects you and yours from cancer, says the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR). Celebrate the love – and Cancer Prevention Month - with a diet that puts plant foods first and is a fresh way of looking at what you eat every day.

Based on decades of research and their evidence-based lifestyle Recommendations for Cancer Prevention, AICR’s New American Plate method helps you put a cancer protective diet into action simply by filling your plate with at least 2/3 vegetables, whole grains, beans and other plant foods, and 1/3 or less of meats and dairy. Without calculating calories, fat grams or carbohydrates you can create balanced meals that lower your risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.

One key principle of the New American Plate is to choose foods with minimal processing and little added sugar and fat because this helps support a healthy weight, one of the most important lifestyle factors for reducing cancer risk, other than not smoking.

“Think vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts, and beans. These foods contain vitamins, minerals and a wide array of phytochemicals that contribute to healthy protection against many types of cancer. And, it’s a colorful, delicious way to eat.” says Alice Bender, AICR’s Director of Nutrition Programs.

The New American Plate helps support a healthy weight because plant foods have few calories per bite. In contrast, the typical diet high in meats, fats and sugar are packed with calories and are much more likely to lead to weight gain. That boosts cancer risk because excess body fat can promote chronic inflammation, and increase blood levels of insulin and related hormones that can spur the growth of cancer cells. Research shows that excess body fat is a cause of 11 cancers, including post-menopausal breast, colorectal and esophageal.

Whether you stick to three meals a day or snack your way through the day, each time you eat, you can adopt the New American Plate for reducing cancer risk.

Cancer Prevention Month is a great time to evaluate how your diet stacks up against cancer risk. Take our quiz: How Healthy is Your Diet?, to see where you stand. Then sign up for our next New American Plate Challenge, a 12-week interactive online program for weight loss and cancer prevention, starting February 26. You will join thousands of individuals to get online support in implementing practical tips for a healthy diet. Celebrate the love and join the New American Plate Challenge now.

AICR’s CAN PREVENT website offers a host of interactive content, including a free downloadable 30-Day Cancer Prevention checklist. The checklist guides the user to take one small step a day to reduce cancer risk and runs through the entire month.

 

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