Earlier this week we shared some of the foods that both reduce and increase the risk of cancer. Using that information, we thought it would be great to provide some suggestions at the micro level that can help you choose the healthiest foods for snacks or meals to aid in cancer prevention. There are so many delicious alternatives to foods we currently eat, so let’s dive right in.
Instead of fried vegetables
While everyone in the southeastern United States would cringe when you say deep frying isn’t healthy, it truly isn’t. Using oils at high temperatures activates carcinogens that can lead to cancer. Don’t batter and fry those green beans or okra. On top of the unhealthy aspects of frying in oil, vegetables that have been cooked lose a lot of the healthy vitamins and minerals that help the body avoid cancer.
Try: Lightly steamed vegetables
If you really don’t want to eat your veggies raw, you can lightly steam them. Use a small amount of water in the bottom of a pot. If you have a steamer basket, this can make the job easier. Place the vegetables in, boil the water, and cover them for just a few minutes. When you take off the lid you know they’re perfect if the colors are bright. Toss them with brown rice, lean meat, and a stir fry sauce for a delicious meal.
Instead of queso dip
You’ve been invited to a party and you need to bring a snack to share. You might grab a bag of tortilla chips and a jar of queso so you don’t have to do much work. But that fatty, processed cheese is really bad for you. You can go from bad to worse by heating it up in the microwave, which isn’t the healthiest way to prepare food.
Try: Fresh made guacamole
If you still want some Mexican flair, make a quick and easy guacamole dip. Avocados contain healthy fats that help reduce your risk of cancer. All you need is chopped onion and tomato, lots of perfectly ripe avocados, cilantro, and one lime. If you prefer your guacamole on the chunky side, roughly chop the avocado and don’t over mix. If you prefer it smooth, you can mash it up before adding the onions, cilantro, and tomatoes. Finish it by squeezing the fresh lime over the whole mixture. This will not only help keep the avocados from oxidizing but also give your guacamole a fresh zing. Pair it with oven baked tortilla or pita chips.
Instead of microwave popcorn
Everyone knows popcorn is a pretty tasty and healthy snack, but those microwaved bags can do more harm than good. Microwaving is convenient, but it isn’t great for your overall health and the method creates carcinogens when they weren’t there to begin with. Microwave popcorn, it turns out, is not really that good for you.
Try: Air popped popcorn
Luckily there is a pretty easy alternative that doesn’t involve popping the corn in oil. Instead, invest in a good air popper. The process doesn’t take that much longer than a microwave bag and the resulting popcorn not only tastes better but is better for you. Use this method to make popcorn for school lunches, to share while watching movies with the family, or as a quick and healthy snack between meals.
Instead of steak
Few things can beat the flavor of a perfectly seasoned medium-rare filet grilled over an open flame. However, not only is the fat contained within the animal protein a problem for long-term health, the cooking method over an open flame also increases the carcinogenic properties of the meat. While you don’t have to cut red meat out of your diet all together, it is highly recommended by nutrition experts to greatly reduce your exposure to it.
Try: Seared tuna
On the other hand, many people who don’t really like fish and seafood have discovered that tuna has a meatier quality and is a delicious alternative to red meat. It won’t replace it all together, but it can be just as satisfying. The best part about tuna is that is easy to cook and doesn’t have to be over done at all. Start with sushi-grade ahi tuna and encrust the outside with a blend of kosher salt, ground coriander, paprika, cayenne pepper, and coarsely ground black pepper. Place the tuna in a hot pan and lightly sear it for about two minutes on each side. The fish should still be pink in the center. Slice and serve.
Instead of a cold cut sandwich on white bread
The staple of the middle school lunch, the cold cut sandwich, turns out to be not so good for you. Both highly processed white bread and cured meats such as salami and ham are poor choices when you want to prevent your risks of developing cancer. Add to it fatty dressings like mayonnaise and it is a bad nutrition bomb.
Try: Grilled, wholegrain bread and bruschetta
The best alternative to white bread is whole grain. Use rustic whole grain bread and place it under the broiler until it is golden brown and crusty. Drizzle with olive oil, which is an unsaturated fat, and top that with chopped tomatoes and basil. The fresh herbs and vegetables are a much better alternative to processed meats.
Instead of mashed potatoes
While you might not be able to imagine Thanksgiving dinner without mashed potatoes, they are probably not the healthiest choice throughout the remainder of the year. Starchy, carb filled potatoes aren’t that nutritious to begin with but when we mash them we usually do so with lots of butter, cream, cheese, bacon, or other fatty additions. If you still crave that white potato, there are alternatives.
Try: Baked potato with the skin on
A baked potato with the skin on is a great choice. The skin provides fiber, which adults in the United States simply aren’t getting enough. And if the thought of a plain baked potato doesn’t excite you, try adding healthful toppings such as salsa, roasted chicken with barbeque sauce, chili made with black beans instead of ground beef, broccoli and cheese, or caramelized onions and mushrooms.
What are some ways you can introduce more foods that reduce your risk of cancer into your diet?
Image by Kent Wang via Flickr