What is a Cancer-Protective Diet?

cancer protective diet table

AICR’s Cancer Prevention Awareness Survey found that less than half of Americans know what a cancer protective diet looks like, yet research shows that eating plenty of plant foods and less red meat can help reduce risk. Cancer Prevention month is a great time to evaluate how your diet stacks up.

For lower cancer risk, focus on your whole diet and resist the temptation of the latest superfood or popular diet. Use AICR’s New American Plate method: fill at least 2/3 with vegetables, whole grains, beans and other plant foods, and allow 1/3 or less for animal foods. Whether you stick to three meals or snack your way through the day, each time you eat you can balance your choices for reducing risk. Get started now:

1. Make a positive start to your day with energy boosting, nutrient rich food choices.

  • Omelet with veggies and whole grain toast
  • Yogurt or oatmeal with nuts and berries
  • Protein-rich smoothie

2. Maintain your focus at lunch with smart and colorful choices that keep you going strong.

  • Veggie-packed soup and whole wheat pita stuffed with tuna salad
  • Bean, avocado, veggie burrito and a piece of fruit
  • Chicken with brown rice and a leafy green salad 

3. Your evening meal offers a chance to slow down and dig in to a colorful, delicious and healthful meal.

  • Stir-fry chicken or meat strips with chopped veggies like colorful bell peppers, onions, zucchini, broccoli, carrots and kale. Serve over quinoa, whole-wheat couscous or brown rice.
  • Make a quick veggie stew with canned beans, frozen vegetables, tomatoes, broth and your favorite chili spices. While that simmers, use a whole grain cornbread mix to bake a batch of muffins.
  • Bake fish fillets alongside cubed sweet potatoes. Then add a tossed salad for an easy healthy meal.

4. Make snack time count too.

  • Nuts and roasted seeds offer a satisfying crunch along with protein, fiber and healthful fats.
  • Apples, grapes, tangerines and cut melon are convenient snacks that satisfy a sweet craving
  • Colorful raw veggies and hummus is a classic healthy snack to keep on hand, especially if you tend toward munching your way through the day.

Take our quiz: How Healthy is Your Diet? to see where you stand. Then sign up for our next New American Plate Challenge starting February 26. You’ll join thousands of individuals to get support to implement our practical tips, challenges and ideas for boosting your healthy diet and physical activity. 

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