February 2020 Issue
Culinary Corner: Go Plant-Based for Cancer Prevention
By Jessica Ivey, RDN, LDN
Vol. 22, No. 2, P. 66
Plant-based eating is everywhere. As of the end of 2019, the hashtag #plantbased has been used 25.3 million times on Instagram, and even fast food burger chains now serve plant-based burgers. This diet trend may help to protect against cancer.
While February is widely known as American Heart Month, it’s also National Cancer Prevention Month, making it the perfect time to educate clients regarding a cancer-protective diet. Cancer is the No. 2 leading cause of death in the United States,1 but researchers estimate that between 30% and 50% of cancer cases are preventable.2 As part of its cancer prevention recommendations, the American Institute for Cancer Research recommends eating a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and beans. A predominantly plant-based diet that’s rich in fiber and water also supports another cancer prevention recommendations, to maintain a healthy weight.
The Institute’s New American Plate is a visual tool for helping clients transition to a diet rich in plant foods. At each meal, clients should be encouraged to fill two-thirds of their plate with plant foods, including nonstarchy vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans or lentils, and limit animal-based proteins to one-third of the plate or less. This realistic approach can be used to empower clients to make gradual transitions for lasting lifestyle changes. For example, a client who typically eats a large portion of beef or pork at dinner nightly can be encouraged to reduce their portion of meat while increasing their portions of nonstarchy vegetables and whole grains. Basic education regarding appropriate portion sizes with food models, especially for meat and poultry, can be eye-opening for clients.
Dietitians who develop recipes or host cooking demonstrations or classes can show clients how to incorporate these guidelines in their meals. Examples could include creating a recipe for a blended burger wherein one-half of the meat is replaced with mushrooms; this same substitution can be used in other recipes such as meatloaf. Try making a Bolognese sauce with veggies and lentils to introduce clients to an easy-to-cook pulse. Prepare a power bowl with a whole grain, vegetables, and a small serving of shredded chicken or flaked salmon.
This hearty meatless chili served in a spaghetti squash boat is full of flavor and nutrient-rich vegetables and beans without any meat.
— Jessica Ivey, RDN, LDN, is a dietitian and chef with a passion for teaching people to eat healthfully for a happy and delicious life. Ivey offers approachable healthful living tips, from fast recipes to meal prep guides and ways to enjoy exercise, on her website, JessicaIveyRDN.com.
1. Heron M; National Center for Health Statistics. Deaths: leading causes for 2017. https://stacks.cdc.gov/view/cdc/79488. Published June 24, 2019.
2. Cancer prevention. World Health Organization website. https://www.who.int/cancer/prevention/en/. Accessed October 17, 2019.