Eating For Life – Healthy Eating To Live Longer

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Eating for Life


Eat for life? Eat to improve your chances long and healthy life? Yes,
you can.

At a time when we seem to be overwhelmed by conflicting diet and health
messages, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Heart, Lung,
and Blood Institute (NHLBI) have some good news: by making the right food
choices, you may reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease and

These diseases take the lives of more Americans than all other illnesses
and causes of death combined. Each day, about three out of every four deaths
in the United States will occur as a result of cardiovascular disease or
heart disease (like heart attacks and strokes) and cancer. This need not be.
Although no diet can ensure you won't get a heart attack, stroke or cancer,
what you eat can affect your health. This has been shown by research of the
National Cancer Institute and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
(two of this country's National Institutes of Health), along with the
research of other scientists.

How does a person eat for life? It's easier and more enjoyable than you
might think. The practical ideas in this booklet show you how to make
healthful, tasty, and appetising food choices at home and when you're eating
out. They are consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, published
by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services. These seven basic guidelines are:

* Eat a variety of foods.

* Maintain desirable weight.

* Avoid too much fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol.

* Eat foods with adequate starch and fibre.

* Avoid too much sugar.

* Avoid too much sodium.

* If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation.

The first two guidelines form the framework of a good diet: eat a
variety of foods so that you get enough of the essential nutrients you need,
and eat only enough calories to maintain desirable weight. The next five
guidelines describe special characteristics of a good diet-getting adequate
starch and fibre and avoiding too much fat, sugar, sodium, and alcohol.

Although the guidelines are designed for healthy adult Americans, these
suggestions are considered especially appropriate for people who may already
have some of the risk factors for chronic diseases. These risk factors
include a family history of obesity, premature heart disease, diabetes, high
blood pressure, or high blood cholesterol levels.

This pamphlet focuses on five guidelines that are particularly related
to the prevention of heart disease and/or cancer: eat a variety of foods;
maintain desirable weight; avoid too much fat, saturated fat, and
cholesterol; eat foods with adequate starch and fibre; and avoid too much

Keep in mind that staying healthy requires more than just good
nutrition. Regular exercise, getting enough rest, learning to cope with
stress, and having regular physical checkups are important ways to help
ensure good health. Checkups are especially important for early detection of
cancer and heart disease.

Another important way to reduce your risks of heart disease and cancer
is not to smoke or use tobacco in any form. Controlling high blood pressure
(hypertension) can also greatly reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Remember, three of the major risk factors for heart disease are largely under
your control. They are smoking, high blood pressure, and high blood

How Do the Foods We Eat Affect Our Chances of Getting Cancer and Heart

There is much still to be learned about the relationship between the
foods we eat and our risk of getting cancer and heart disease. The NHLBI and
NCI are conducting a great deal of research to find out more about this
relationship. There is, however, a lot that we know now. The relationship of
diet to cancer and the relationship of diet to risk factors for heart disease
are summarised below:


* We know that obesity is associated with high blood pressure, high
blood cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, Extreme obesity has
also been linked to several cancers. This means that if you are obese, losing
weight may reduce your chances of developing these serious diseases or
conditions. If you already suffer from hypertension and are overweight,
weight loss alone can often lower your blood pressure to normal levels.

Because fat (both saturated and unsaturated fat) provides more than
twice the number of calories provided by equal weights of carbohydrate or
protein, decreasing the fat in your diet may help you lose weight as well as
help reduce your risk of cancer and heart disease. Today, most Americans get
about 37 percent of their daily calories from fat. Many experts suggest that
fat should be reduced to 30 percent or less of calories.

Heart Disease

* We know that high blood cholesterol increases your risk of heart
disease, especially as it rises above 200 mg/dl (milligrams of cholesterol
per decilitre of blood). The evidence is clear that elevated cholesterol in
the blood, resulting in part from the foods we eat and in part from
cholesterol made in the body, contributes to the development of
atherosclerosis, a disorder of arteries that results in their narrowing and
in reduced blood circulation. This condition can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

* We know that blood cholesterol levels are greatly influenced by the
amount of saturated fat and cholesterol found in many of the foods we eat.
These raise blood cholesterol levels. (Of the two, saturated fat seems to be
the major dietary factor which affects blood cholesterol.) To reduce your
blood cholesterol level, it is important to eat less saturated fat and
cholesterol. Saturated fat and cholesterol are often found together in foods.
Saturated fat in the U.S. diet is provided primarily by animal products such
as the fat in meat, butter, whole milk, cream, cheese, and ice cream.

There are a few vegetable fats--coconut oil, cocoa butter, palm kernel
and palm oils which are also high in saturated fat. Cholesterol is found only
in animal products eggs, meat, poultry, fish and dairy products. Plant foods
such as vegetables, grains, cereals, nuts, and seeds do not contain
cholesterol. A few foods are high in cholesterol but relatively low in
fat--for example, egg yolks and liver.

Watch out for items in the grocery store that are labelled no
cholesterol or, contains no animal fat." They may still contain a large
amount of fat or saturated fat. Examples are peanut butter, solid vegetable
shortening, non dairy creamer, and baked products like cookies, cakes, and
crackers. For people trying to lose blood cholesterol level, these foods
should be chosen less often.

* We know that substituting unsaturated fatty acids (which are usually
liquid and usually come from plant sources) for saturated fats can help reduce
high blood cholesterol. Safflower, corn, soybean, olive, and canola oils are
major sources of unsaturated fats. The omega-3 fatty acids which are found in
fish and seafood, may have a favourable effect on blood fat and reduce the
risk of heart disease. No one is sure yet.

* We know that there is an association between too much sodium in the
diet and high blood pressure in some individuals. Sodium is a mineral that
occurs naturally in some foods and is added to many foods and beverages as
salt or other additives. Most sodium in the American diet comes from salt.
One teaspoon of salt contains about 2 grams of sodium. In countries where
people eat only small amounts of sodium, high blood pressure is rare.

We also know that when some people with high blood pressure greatly
reduce their sodium intake, their blood pressure will fall. Because Americans
generally eat much more sodium than they need, it is probably best for most
people to reduce the amount of sodium they eat. According to the National
Academy of Sciences, a safe and adequate amount of sodium in the diet of the
average adult is between 1 and 3.3 grams daily.

Some recent studies indicated that the substitution of monosaturated
fats, such as those saturated fats may lower blood cholesterol.


* The National Cancer Institute estimates that about 80 percent of all
cancers may be related to smoking, diet, and the environment.

* The National Cancer Institute estimates that about one-third of all
cancer deaths may be related to the foods we eat. Studies at the National
Cancer Institute suggest that eating foods high in fibre may reduce risks of
cancers of the colon and rectum. Adult Americans now eat about 11 grams of
fibre daily according to NCI studies. NCI recommends that Americans increase
the daily amount of fibre they eat to between 20 and 30 grams, with an upper
limit of 35 grams. The NCI also emphasises the importance of choosing fibre
rich foods, not supplements. Good sources of fibre are whole grain breads and
bran cereals, vegetables, cooked dry peas and beans, and fruits.

* We know that diets high in fats of all kinds have been linked to
certain cancers, particularly those of the breast, colon, lining of the
uterus, and prostate gland. Some studies have suggested that fat may act as a
cancer promoter (an agent that speeds up the development of cancer).

* There is some evidence that diets rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, and
beta-carotene (the plant form of vitamin A) may help reduce the risk of
certain cancers. The evidence we have about vitamins A and C comes from
studies of these vitamins as they are found in foods. That is why NCI
recommends that you eat a variety of foods rich in vitamins rather than
relying on vitamin supplements.

Good sources of vitamin A include yellow-orange vegetables such as
carrots, winter squash, sweet potatoes and pumpkin; and yellow-orange fruits
such as peaches, cantaloupes and mangoes.

Sources of vitamin C include dark-green leafy vegetables such as kale,
spinach, and watercress; broccoli and asparagus; and tomatoes. Some fruit
sources of vitamin C are oranges, lemons, grapefruit, peaches, berries, and

* There is some evidence that vegetables in the cabbage family may help
protect against cancer of the colon. These vegetables are also good sources
of fibre, vitamins, and minerals. Cabbage family vegetables include cabbage,
broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, collards, kale, turnips, mustard
greens, turnip greens, kohlrabi, watercress and radishes.

Reducing Your Risk of Heart Disease and Cancer

Based on what we know, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
and the National Cancer Institute have joined together to suggest some ways
you may reduce your risks of heart disease and cancer. These suggestions
emphasise the need to eat a variety of foods each day. They also include some
"mealtime strategies" that you can use to plan meals that avoid too
much fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium, and that help you to get
adequate starch and fibre.

These strategies are consistent with the Department of Agriculture and
Department of Health and Human Services Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
These strategies should encourage you to think about the foods you eat, how
to prepare them, and what food choices you can make when you go grocery shopping
or eat away from home.

The key is following a Choose More Often approach. It doesn't mean
giving up your favourite foods. It means taking steps to choose more often
foods that are low in fat and high in fibre.

For example, if you enjoy eating steak, choose a low-fat cut such as
round steak, trim off the excess fat, broil it, and drain off the drippings.
Pizza? To try a low-fat version that is rich in fibre, use a whole-grain
English muffin or pita bread topped with part-skim mozzarella, fresh vegetables,
and tomato sauce.

And cookies or other desserts? In many recipes you can reduce the fat,
and substitute vegetable oils or margarine for butter. To increase fibre, use
whole wheat flour in place of white flour.

Here's how the Choose More Often approach works:

More Often:

Low-fat meat, poultry, fish

Lean cuts of meat trimmed of fat (round tip roast, pork tenderloin,
loin lamb chop), poultry without skin, and fish, cooked without breading or
fat added.

Low-fat dairy products

1 percent or skim milk, buttermilk; low-fat or non fat yoghurt; lower
fat cheeses (part-skim ricotta, pot, and farmer); ice milk, sherbet.

Dry beans and peas

All beans, peas and lentils--the dry forms are higher in protein.

Whole grain products

Breads, bagels, and English muffins made from whole wheat, rye, bran,
and corn flour or meal; whole grain or bran cereals; whole wheat pasta; brown
rice; bulgur.

Fruits and vegetables

All fruits and vegetables (except avocados, which are high in fat, but
that fat is primarily unsaturated). For example, apples, pears, cantaloupe,
oranges, grapefruit, pineapple, peaches, bananas, carrots, broccoli, Brussels
sprouts, cabbage, kale, potatoes, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach,
cauliflower, and turnips, and others.

Fats and oils high in unsaturates

Unsaturated vegetable oils, such as canola oil, corn oil, cottonseed
oil, olive oil, and soybean oil, and margarine; reduced-calorie mayonnaise
and salad dressings.

To assure an adequate diet, choose a variety of foods daily including
selections of vegetables; fruits; whole-grain breads and cereals; low-fat
dairy products; poultry, fish, and lean meat, dry beans and peas. Here are
some tips for following the Choose More Often approach in three important
areas: grocery shopping, food preparation, and eating out.

Grocery Shopping

Focus on variety. Choose a wide selection of low-fat foods rich in
fibre. Include whole grain breads and cereals, vegetables, fruits, low-fat
dairy products, and poultry, fish, and lean meat. Although the goal is to
reduce fat to 30 percent or less of calories, when choosing foods that do
contain fat, try to choose ones that contain primarily unsaturated fats. For
example, choose an unsaturated-rich margarine instead of butter; choose
vegetable oils.

Read food labels. To help you find foods that are low in fat and
cholesterol and high in fibre, get into the label-reading habit. Many
nutritional labels on packaged foods show the amount of unsaturated and
saturated fatty acids and the amount of cholesterol and fibre they contain.
Check the type of fat on the ingredients list. Is it an animal fat, coconut
or palm kernel oil high in saturated fat? Or, is it corn or soybean oil high
in polyunsaturated fat?

Choose a product with the lowest proportion of saturated fat. The label
also tells you something else about a product. Ingredients are listed in
order of amount from most to least by weight. So, when you buy a breakfast
cereal, for example, choose one that has a whole grain listed first (such as
whole wheat or oatmeal).

Pay attention to sodium. Many processed, canned, and frozen foods are
high in sodium. Cured or processed meats, cheeses, and condiments (soy sauce,
mustard, tartar sauce) are also high in sodium. Check for salt, onion or
garlic salt, and any ingredient with "sodium" on the label. If the
sodium content is given on the nutritional label, compare products and choose
the ones with lower levels.

Food Preparation

Use small amounts of fat and fatty foods. There are lots of ways to use
less fat. For example, when you saute or stir-fry, use only 1/2 teaspoon of
fat per serving. When you use margarine, mayonnaise, or salad dressing, use
half as much as usual. And, decrease portion sizes of other high fat
foods--rich desserts, untrimmed and fatty types of meat, poultry with skin,
and fried foods, especially breaded foods.

Use less saturated fat. While reducing your total fat intake,
substitute unsaturated fat and oils for saturated fat in food preparation.
For example, instead of butter, use margarine or vegetable oil. One teaspoon
of butter can be replaced with equal portions (or less) of margarine or 3/4
teaspoon of vegetable oil in many recipes without affecting the quality.
Saturated fat may be reduced even more if you want to experiment with
recipes. Poultry without skin and fish are good choices because they are
often lower in fat and saturated fat than many meats.

Use low-fat alternatives. Substitute 1 percent, skim, or reconstituted
non fat dry milk for whole milk. Use low-fat yoghurt, buttermilk, or
evaporated skim milk in place of cream or sour cream. Try reduced-calorie
mayonnaise and salad dressing in place of regular.

Choose lean meat. When you buy meat, choose lean cuts such as beef
round, pork tenderloin, and loin lamb chops. Be sure to trim all visible fat
from meat and poultry and remove poultry skin.

Use low-fat cooking methods. Bake, steam, broil, microwave, or boil
foods rafter than frying. Skim fat from soups and gravies.

Increase fibre. Choose whole grain breads and cereals. Substitute whole
grain flour for white flour. Eat vegetables and fruits more often and have
generous servings. Whenever possible, eat the edible fiber-rich skin as well
as the rest of the vegetable or fruit.

Use herbs, spices, and other flavourings. For a different way to add
flavour to meals, try lemon juice, basil, chives, allspice, onion, and garlic
in place of fats and sodium. Try new recipes that use less fat or
sodium-containing ingredients, and adjust favourite recipes to reduce fat and

Eating Out

Choose the restaurant carefully. Are there low-fat as well as
high-fiber selections on the menu? Is there a salad bar? How are the meat,
chicken, and fish dishes cooked? Can you have menu items broiled or baked
without added fat instead of fried? These are important things to know before
you enter a restaurant--fast food or otherwise. Seafood restaurants usually
offer broiled, baked, or poached fish, and you can often request butter and
sauces on the side. Many steak houses offer small steaks and have salad bars.

Try ethnic cuisines. Italian and Asian restaurants often feature
low-fat dishes. though you must be selective and alert to portion size. Try a
small serving of pasta or fish in a tomato sauce at an Italian restaurant.
Many Chinese, Japanese, and Thai dishes include plenty of steamed vegetables
and a high proportion of vegetables to meat. Steamed rice, steamed noodle
dishes, and vegetarian dishes are good choices too. Ask that the chef cook
your food without soy sauce or salt to decrease sodium. Some Latin American
restaurants feature a variety of fish and chicken dishes that are low in fat.

Make sure you get what you want Here are just a few things you can do
to make sure you're in control when you eat out. Ask how dishes are cooked.
Don't hesitate to request that one food be substituted for another. Order a
green salad or baked potato in place of french fries or order fruit, fruit
ice, or sherbet instead of ice cream. Request sauces and salad dressings on
the side and use only a small amount. Ask that butter not be sent to the
table with your rolls. If you're not very hungry, order two low-fat
appetizers rather than an entire meal, split a menu item with a friend, get a
doggie-bag to take half of your meal home, or order a half-size portion. When
you have finished eating, have the waiter clear the dishes away so that you
can avoid post meal nibbling.

Mealtime Strategies

We've given you some basic information on fat, fibre, and sodium. And,
we've provided some tips on decreasing fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and
sodium; and increasing fibre. But, how do you put it all together when it
comes to breakfast, lunch, and dinner? These mealtime strategies should help.


Strategy #1--Choose fruit more often. Just a few great choices in the
fruit family are: cantaloupe, grapefruit, strawberries, oranges, bananas,
pears, and apples.

Strategy #2--Choose whole-grain cereals and products more often.
Examples are whole wheat or bran breads, bagels, and cereal.

Strategy #3--Try making pancakes and waffles with whole wheat flour
instead of white flour and one whole egg and one egg white rafter than two
whole eggs. For a low-fat topping with fibre, try apple sauce, apple butter
and cinnamon, or fruit and low-fat plain yoghurt.

Strategy #4--Fruit juice and skim milk are familiar breakfast drinks.
For an extra boost in the morning, why not try a fruit smoothie made from
juice, fruit and non fat plain yoghurt blended together. Other non fat
choices are seltzer water, coffee, and tea.

These breakfast choices are sound nutrition choices because they are
not only low in fat and cholesterol but also provide fibre, vitamins, and
minerals. Some foods that you should choose less often are sausage, bacon,
butter, whole milk and cream (including commercial non dairy creamer). These
foods are high in saturated fat and cholesterol.


Strategy #1--Try a fiber-rich bean, split pea, vegetable, or minestrone
soup. Use commercially canned and frozen soups and cream soups less
often--they can be high in sodium and fat. If you make your own soup, use
broth or skim milk to keep the fat content low.

Strategy #2--Have a bean salad or mixed greens with plenty of
vegetables. For fibre include some vegetables like--carrots, broccoli,
cauliflower, and kidney or garbanzo beans. For a low-fat dressing, try lemon
juice or a reduced-calorie dressing. If you use regular dressing, use only a
very small amount.

Strategy #3--Try sandwiches made with water-packed tuna, sliced
chicken, turkey, lean meat, or low-fat cheese, and use whole-grain bread or
pita bread. To decrease fat, use reduced-calorie mayonnaise, or just a small
amount of regular mayonnaise, or use mustard. Mustard contains no fat.

Strategy #4--For dessert, have fresh fruit, low-fat yoghurt, or a
frozen fruit bar.

Strategy #5--Fruit juice and skim milk are good beverage choices. Club
soda with a twist of lemon or lime, hot or iced tea with lemon, or coffee
without cream are refreshing drinks.

At lunch, try to eat these foods less often: processed luncheon meats,
fried meat, chicken, or fish; creamy salads, french fries and chips, richer
creamy desserts, high-fat baked goods, and high-fat cheeses such as Swiss,
cheddar, American, and Brie.


Strategy #1--Eat a variety of vegetables. To increase variety, try some
that might be new to you, such as those from the cabbage family (broccoli,
Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and cabbage), dark-green leafy vegetables
(spinach and kale), and yellow-orange vegetables (winter squash and sweet
potatoes). For old favourites, like peas and green beans, skip the butter and
sprinkle with lemon juice or herbs. Or, how about a baked potato, with the
skin, and topped with low-fat yoghurt and chives, tomato salsa, or a small
amount of low-fat cheese?

Strategy #2--Try whole wheat pasta and casseroles made with brown rice,
bulgur, and other grains. If you are careful with preparation, these dishes
can be excellent sources of fibre and low in fat. For example, when milk and
eggs are ingredients in a recipe, try using 1 percent or skim milk, reduce
the number of egg yolks and replace with egg whites. Here are some ideas for
grain-based dishes:

--Whole wheat spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce;

--Whole wheat macaroni and chickpea stew in tomato sauce;

--Tuna noodle casserole, using water-packed tuna (or rinsed, oil-packed
tuna), skim milk, and fresh mushrooms or sliced water chestnuts;

--Turkey, broccoli and brown rice casserole using skim milk and egg

--Eggplant lasagne, made with broiled eggplant and part-skim mozzarella
or ricotta cheese.

Strategy #3--Substitute whole-grain breads and rolls for white bread.

Strategy #4--Choose main dishes that call for fish, chicken, turkey or
lean meat. Don't forget to remove the skin and visible fat from poultry and
trim the fat from meat. Some good low-fat choices are:

--Red snapper stew;

--Flounder or sole florentine (make the cream sauce with skim milk);

--Salmon loaf (use skim milk, rolled oats, and egg whites);

--Baked white fish with lemon and fennel;

--Chicken cacciatore Italian-style (decrease the oil in the recipe);

--Chicken curry served over steamed wild rice (choose a recipe that
requires little or no fat; "saute" the onions in chicken broth
instead of butter);

--Light beef stroganoff with well-trimmed beef round steak and
buttermilk served over noodles;

--Oriental pork made with lean pork loin, green peppers and pineapple
chunks served over rice.

Strategy #5--Choose desserts that give you fibre but little fat such as:

--Baked apples or bananas, sprinkled with cinnamon;

--Fresh fruit cup;

--Brown bread or rice pudding made with skim milk;

--Oatmeal cookies (made with margarine or vegetable oil; add raisins).

For many, the end of the workday, represents a time to relax, and
dinner can be a light meal and an opportunity to decrease fat and


Strategy #1--Try a raw vegetable platter made with a variety of
vegetables. Include some good fibre choices: carrots, snow peas, cauliflower,
broccoli, green beans.

Strategy #2--Make sauces and dips with non fat plain yoghurt as the

Strategy #3--Eat more fruit. Oranges, grapefruit, kiwi, apples, pears,
bananas, strawberries and cantaloupe are all good fibre sources. Make a big
fruit salad and keep it on hand for snacks.

Strategy #4--Plain, air-popped popcorn is a great low-fat snack with
fibre. Watch out! Some pre packaged microwave popcorn has fat added. Remember
to go easy on the salt or use other seasonings.

Strategy #5--Instead of chips, try one of these low-fat alternatives
that provide fibre: toasted shredded wheat Squares sprinkled with a small
amount of grated Parmesan cheese, whole-grain English muffins, or toasted
plain corn tortillas.

Strategy #6--When you are thirsty, try water, skim milk, juice, or club
soda with a twist of lime or lemon.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the National Cancer
Institute are committed to promoting good health and reducing the loss of
life from heart disease and cancer. You can help. By using the ideas in this
booklet, trying recipes that have been modified to decrease fat and sodium
and increase fibre, and planning menus that are high in fibre and low in fat,
especially saturated fat, you may reduce the risk of these diseases for
yourself and for those you love.

So Eat Well, Eat Healthy... And Eat For Life!

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