The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) has designed the “ New American Plate” to assist Americans in their pursuit of health and happiness. This dish combines foods that help manage weight and lower incidences of cancer and other chronic diseases.
The "New American Plate" does not require a diet plan, or a complicated method for calculating carbohydrates, calories, or fat. It’s simply a new way to improve the balance in what you eat.
Want to try the New American Plate? Here it is: 2/3 of your meal should consist of plant origin foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and/or beans. Up to 1/3 of your meal should consist of animal proteins, like meat, fish, poultry, or low-fat dairy products.
By making these simple adjustments to your daily meals, you’ll be able to better manage your weight, improve your health, and prevent diseases in the long-run.
Fill up on fruit and vegetables
The AICR, one of the most prestigious research institutes in its field, launched this campaign for two reasons:
1. To inform the public of its findings regarding the significant role vegetables, fruits and other plant foods play in disease prevention
2. To respond to the sudden surge of quick-fix, fad-diet books, which urge readers to cut back on certain foods like vegetables and fruits.
In 1997, the AICR's report, "Food, Nutrition, and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective," linked diets rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans with low incidences of cancer and other chronic diseases. A panel of scientists based this report on more than 4,500 research projects carried out around the world. We’ve never published a more thorough report on the links between diet, nutrition, and cancer. According to the AICR report, changes in diet and exercise can prevent 30 to 40% of all cancers. Eliminating tobacco from the equation raises this figure to 60 to 70%.
Since then, thousands more studies have been published, and advances in technology have improved the way information is collected and analyzed. As a result, AICR has produced a second expert report, Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective .
Select your servings carefully
The AICR recommends eating at least five servings of fruit and vegetables a day. Researchers suggest that this change in diet can prevent up to 20% of all cancers. Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins, minerals, and phyto-chemicals (natural substances that only exist in plants and which protect the body against dangerous agents like cancer).
Eat at least 7 servings of other plant-origin foods every day. This includes grains (whole-wheat bread, pasta, cereals, barley and whole-grain rice) and legumes (beans and peas, including red beans, chick-peas, black beans, lentils, and green beans). Instead of eating processed grains like white rice and the flour in white bread, eat whole grains. Whole grains contain more fiber and beneficial plant components.
Move over meat
Look at your plate before starting your meal. Don’t think of meat as the main focus of the meal, but as a side dish. If you enjoy beef, pork, or lamb, eat lean cuts and keep the portion to no more than 3 ounces (4 ounces of uncooked) a day. The AICR experts warn that eating a lot of red meat increases your risk of colon cancer.
Scientists have not performed enough research on poultry or fish in order to determine what the daily limits should be. In any case, always make room for the vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, and peas you need.
Lose the weight but not the flavor
The New American Plate is also low in calories. Eating foods of plant origin, which are naturally low in calories, allows you to eat larger portions and feel completely full.
The AICR stresses that you don’t have to give up certain foods or go hungry just because you adopt the New American Plate.
Contemplate the calories
Be careful when preparing meals and adding dressing or sauces to your food. By covering your vegetables in cheese, regular sauces, or dressing, you may end up adding excessive amounts of calories. Remember, cooking food in oil or butter also adds fat and calories.
*Nydia Rivera is a journalist for DrTango, Inc.
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