Bringing the cancer-prevention diet home

Happy Halloween! Yesterday I talked about the science part of the American Institute for Cancer Research webinar, “Eating Patterns to Lower Cancer Risk: More than One Route to a Plant-Based Diet.” In the second part of the webinar, Sharon Palmer, RDN, brought the science to the dinner table by discussing indigenous, traditional diets from around the world, and how they share the features of a cancer-preventive diet while still being unique.

The common features include:

  • Local whole grains
  • Local legumes (beans)
  • Seasonal cultivated (farmed) and foraged fruits and vegetables
  • Seeds and nuts
  • Minimal processing
  • Low use of animal foods
From South and Central America to India, West Africa, the various countries of the Mediterranean, Japan and Okinawa, the Nordic countries and even plant-based traditions in the United States, Palmer left no doubt that there is a way to eat to lower cancer risk that can suit any or all palates. It also reminded me that I really need to cook more from Claudia Rodin’s books.

Palmer’s tips for developing your own healthy plant-based eating style include:

  • Going vegetarian or vegan at breakfast.
  • Observing Meatless Monday.
  • Planning your menu around plants instead of meat (including when shopping).
  • If you eat meat, use it as a “seasoning” rather than the main event.
  • Build your plant-based pantry (beans and whole grains are shelf-stable, convenient and economical).
  • Plan to try out a new vegetarian recipe at least one night a week….
  • …but don’t feel like you need to be a gourmet chef. Simple meals like black bean burritos and a hummus pita sandwich count, too.
  • Experiment with ethnic foods. Many ethnic cuisines have quite a flair with vegetarian meals.
  • Convert some favorite meat-based recipes into vegetarian recipes.

Palmer’s book, The Plant-Powered Diet, provides excellent guidance for achieving optimal health through a lifelong eating plan rich in whole-plant foods, whether you eat animal-based foods or not. The book is about one-third recipes, many with short ingredient lists. I just received the AICR’s The New American Plate Cookbook in the mail yesterday. I’d perused it before, and finally decided to free it from the purgatory of my Amazon wish list. Lots of yummy-looking recipes, for vegans, meat-eaters, and everyone in between.

More resources from the webinar:
AICR’s Foods that Fight Cancer
Recipes from the AICR Test Kitchen
Health-e-Recipes

More resources from Oldways (love them…and their vegetarian/vegan diet pyramid is brand NEW!):
The Plant-Powered Kitchen
Mediterranean Diet 101
Oldways Recipes

Top photo used with permission by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.