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For Immediate Release: December 1, 2011
Contact: Mya Nelson, m.nelson@aicr.org, 202-328-7744 x3047

Five Secrets for a Festive and Cancer-Protective Holiday Table

AICR Test Kitchen Stamp with a sprig of hollyThis season, you can enjoy those holiday parties and special treats and still stave off those extra holiday pounds by following five easy strategies from experts at The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR).

During this season of parties, potlucks and other festivities, many Americans struggle to find balance between holiday indulgences and their commitment to a healthy body.

"No single meal or holiday treat means disaster, but weeks of eating foods with too much fat and sugar, yet skimping on vegetables and fruits can mean starting the New Year with a few extra pounds," says AICR Registered Dietitian Alice Bender.

Those two to three extra pounds every year can add up to serious health problems over time. Overweight and obesity are linked to an increased risk for seven cancers, including breast and colon, and to other chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, And, if skipping vegetables and fruit becomes a habit, you miss out on the health protection of these superfoods.

"Research shows that vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals – plant compounds – in fruits and vegetables help keep your body healthy, strong and able to fight off disease," according to Bender. "You'll stay leaner too because these foods fills you up with fewer calories."

Smart Secrets for Sensible Celebrations

Follow these five tips and you'll be well on your way to a holiday season filled with "healthy indulgences."

  1. Practice Party Plate Proportions. Carve out 1/3 or less of your plate for the holiday meat and leave the other 2/3 for foods like cranberries, roasted squash, green salad and a whole wheat roll. That 2/3 of your plate offers fewer calories per bite than many animal foods, helping you stay a healthy weight.
  2. Go for the (Whole) Grain. Fiber offers a one-two punch: it lowers risk for colorectal cancer and studies suggest it helps you maintain a healthy weight. Whole grains also contain substances such as phenols and saponins, shown to be cancer-fighters in lab research. Look for brown rice, barley and quinoa for delicious side dishes.
  3. Color Your Table with Synergy. Research suggests we may get the most health benefits from eating a wide variety of plant foods because their nutrients and phytochemicals work together (synergy) to keep our immune system strong and our bodies healthy. One way to get a variety of these compounds is to eat colorful foods. Colors in plant foods signify different phytochemicals that protect us in a number of ways.
  4. Practice Party Plate Portions. For most holiday foods the key word is small. For rich seasonal treats such as cookies, desserts, nuts and candy, think slivers, bite-size and small handful as the portion size. This allows you to enjoy your favorites without overdoing.
  5. Balance the Beverages. Get creative with your beverages by dressing up plain or sparkling water with fruit or juice or making your own infused water with strawberry slices and fresh mint sprigs. Limit alcohol, sodas and other sugary beverages, which add calories that don't keep you satisfied for long. Alcohol increases the risk of several cancers, including breast and colorectal, and sugary beverages are linked to weight gain, overweight and obesity.

For healthy recipes visit the AICR Test Kitchen and learn more here about the New American Plate.



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 $95 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.

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