Recommendations for Cancer Prevention

3. Avoid sugary drinks. Limit consumption of energy-dense foods (particularly processed foods high in added sugar, or low in fiber, or high in fat).

Choosing healthy foods and drinks instead of those that are high in refined carbohydrates and often in added sugar and fat (energy-dense foods) can help us avoid overweight and obesity and thereby reduce our cancer risk.

What are energy-dense foods?

Most foods provide us with energy (calories), but some foods contain more energy ounce-for-ounce than others. Energy-dense foods tend to be processed foods with sugar and fat added to improve the taste. The result is more calories per ounce.

For example, 3.5 oz. of chocolate contains 10 times more calories than the same amount of apple:

3.5 oz. of milk chocolate = 520 calories
3.5 oz. of apple = 52 calories

It can be difficult to control how much energy you are consuming if you eat a lot of energy-dense foods because you only need to eat a small amount to take in a lot of calories. It’s okay to eat energy-dense foods occasionally, or in small quantities, but try not to make them the basis of your diet. By choosing a diet based on low-energy-dense foods, you can actually eat more food but consume fewer calories.

Foods that are low in energy density, like the apple, are high in fiber and water. Most vegetables, fruits and beans fall into the low-energy-dense category. It is yet another reason to base your diet on plant-based foods.

Sugary drinks and weight gain

The expert report found that regularly consuming sugary drinks contributes to weight gain. These drinks are easy to drink in large quantities but don’t make us feel full, even though they are quite high in calories. Sugary drinks include: soft drinks like colas and juice flavored drinks. We should try to avoid these drinks.

Water is the best alternative. Unsweetened tea and coffee are also healthy options. Natural fruit juice counts as one of our recommended 5 or more daily portions of vegetables and fruits, but it does contain a lot of sugar. It’s best not to drink more than one glass a day.