Cancer Prevention with a Healthful Lifestyle

Modified from my original post on

According to the American Cancer Institute, in 2015 an estimated 1,658,370 new cancer cases will be diagnosed with 589,000 dying from the disease in the United States.  National expenditures for cancer care in the United States totaled nearly $125 billion in 2010 and could reach $156 billion in 2020.

Cancer though, is not an inevitable consequence of aging and life. The World Health Organization reports that at least 1/3 of cancer incidences are preventable. As a Registered Dietitian, I travel to several large nutrition and exercise physiology conferences each year, and in multiple instances have heard oncologists speak, reporting they believe up to 50% of cancer cases in the US are preventable through lifestyle modification. As shown by the American Institute for Cancer Research below, 1/3 of Breast cancer incidences are preventable and up to 50% of colon cancer incidences.


As a Registered Dietitian, I truly believe that real food is medicine. While the $37 billion supplement industry convinces many that high doses of nutrients and compounds will solve or prevent health problems, many times they are accelerating disease or bringing about health concerns. With degrees in both nutrition and exercise physiology, I also recognize though that one must have an active lifestyle with a healthful diet to achieve optimal health. As our nation has become more developed Americans have become less healthy, with the majority of deaths being attributed to chronic disease.

While medical technology is saving many people through cancer screenings and treatments, wouldn’t it be great to prevent needing treatment in the first place? We hear of antioxidants in the media as if they are some magic potion that we can only get in a bottle or pill at a health food store. These compounds come from the foods that have always been on this earth and should be the foundation of our food intake. Making changes to your current eating pattern is not as hard as it sounds, but education on not only how to change, but why to change is necessary to have the motivation to transform your current habits.

As we raise awareness of cancer and support research for a cure in October, let us also raise awareness of and practice the eating habits that can prevent this terrible disease! I will be presenting “10 Tips to Reduce your Cancer Risk” at The Newtown Athletic Club on October 22 at 7 PM. The NAC makes all seminars free to the community. The seminar will cover how antioxidants fight the development of and progression of cancer as well as how to boost intake of antioxidant nutrients with simple diet and lifestyle changes.

Reserve your spot here!


“Faux Joe’s” – Lentil Sloppy Joe Recipe

*Updated 11/11/2014 with slow cooker version

Sloppy Joe’s don’t have to be a high fat comfort food. In fact, the meal can be heart healthy, nutrient dense, fiber rich, and protein packed, all without sacrificing flavor. When I made my lentil version this past week my husband said it officially topped of his list of favorite home-cooked meals! What’s great is that you can have Sloppy Joe’s on a bun like they’re classically served, or on top of salad greens as I prefer 🙂

Dry lentils cook much more quickly than dry beans, but you can always save time by tossing all the ingredients in your slow cooker and setting on low for 6-8 hours.

Lentil Sloppy Joe’s the classic way (w/ whole wheat sub roll from Whole Foods):blog 036
Lentil Sloppy Joe Salad (pictured w/ a slice of High Five Great Harvest Bread):lentil sloppy joe salad

Lentil Sloppy Joe on Avocado Toast – Food for Life Brand “Genesis” bread

(Added 8/1/16)

Faux Joe’s – Lentil Sloppy Joe’s
(GF, V, DF)

(see below for beneficial properties of these ingredients):

lentil sloppy joe ingredients

1 cup organic dried lentils – prepared with water as indicated on package
1 Tablespoon avocado or olive oil
3 cloves garlic minced*
1 medium- large onion, diced*
2 large whole carrots, finely diced or shredded*
1 15 ounce can organic diced tomatoes (I used the trader joe’s ones w/ green chiles)
or 15 oz can diced tomatoes + 2 oz canned green chili’s
4 oz tomato paste (2 oz if tomato paste concentrate)
1 Tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder (depending on how much you like heat!)
Fresh ground black pepper to taste

*Purchasing Tips: bagged organic onions are very economical from Trader Joe’s as are bagged organic carrots. Both can also be found for a good deal at BJ’s Wholesale, along with organic garlic.

Stove top Directions:
-Place a large saucepan or stockpot over low-medium heat and add the oil. Spread w/ rubber spatula so that it coats the bottom of the pan.
-Add the garlic and stir for 1-2 minutes (do not let garlic turn brown).
-Add the onions and carrots, stir and cover for 3-5 minutes. Stir occasionally.
-Add the cooked lentils, tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir well.
-Add all the spices, stir well and let simmer, covered for 3-5 minutes.*
-Add the maple syrup, stir, and remove from heat.

*If mixture seems too thick, add 1-2 tablespoons of water at a time until desired consistency is reached.

Slow Cooker Directions:

-Add the garlic, onions, carrots, uncooked lentils, water or broth, tomatoes, tomato paste, spices, syrup at once.
-Set heat on low for 8 hours.
-Stir occasionally if at home/awake. If you do not stir, that’s okay, you may have a small amount of residue on the side of the crock pot though.
-Serve up your dinner that took virtually no time at all!

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Serving Options:

-Dish up 1/6 of the mixture onto bread or roll of choice
-Top mixed greens with 1/6 of mixture
-New idea (10/2013) from my husband: sloppy joe nachos. I don’t eat cheese but he does on occasion and I am aware most readers probably do. Opt for low-fat extra sharp organic cheddar for flavor.

*Sports Nutrition*
Post endurance workout: Serve with bread, potatoes, or whole grain rice to maximize carb storage.
Post strength workout: as above, but also mix lentils with eggs and scramble.

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Real Ingredients with Real Benefits:

Lentils don’t get as much attention as they should. Per 1/4 C dry serving, at only 180 Calories, lentils provide more protein and iron than beans with 13 g and 3.6 mg respectively. You’ll get lots of B-vitamins from this legume, especially thiamin and folate. They’re also a great source of choline, potassium and many minerals. Lentils are high in both insoluble and soluble fiber; soluble being the type that helps reduce blood cholesterol levels.

Tomatoes pack in lots of Vitamins A, C, and the important fluid balance mineral Potassium. They are well known in terms of phytochemical content for their lycopene which is known for reducing risk of prostate cancer. This was one of the first phytochemicals that really made a name for itself. It is often forgetten that tomatoes also provide other carotenoids and flavonoids such as quercitin.

Onions & garlic are part of the same family, providing the phytochemicals allicin and sulfides which are linked to improved immunity and respiratory health. Onions also provide Vitamins C, B6 and folate.

Carrots are most known for the role in eye health. This is because carrots have a high content of Vitamin A and other phytochemical carotenoids which not only support your eyes but also skin, hair and antioxidant systems. Carrots are also high in Vitamins C & K and the mineral potassium. Antioxidants work to keep your heart healthy and potassium is important for fluid balance and plays a role in maintaining normal blood pressure.

Canola Oil is my go to when I am cooking. While olive oil has great flavor and a good fat profile, canola oil actually has much more omega-3 than olive oil and even less saturated fat. I don’t eat animal products on a daily basis and my fish consumption is low, so using canola oil in cooking helps me meet my daily needs of omega 3. Since most canola oil in stores is genetically modified, choose an organic brand – it will still be cheaper than conventional olive oil.

Cayenne & chili powder all contain capsaicin. Capsaicin has long been used for decreasing joint pain and inflammation topically but in the body may aid in appetite control, metabolism and intestinal inflammation. Oh and you aren’t the only one who gets a runny nose from spicy food – these peppers can all help clear your sinuses!

Oregano actually contains manganese, iron and Vitamins A & K. It can also benefit your immune system as its phytochemicals thymol and carvacrol are anti-bacterial.

Nutrition Information (without lettuce or other toppings):

Servings: 6 (*Athletes may want to split into just 4 servings)
Calories: 205
Total Fat: 3 g
Saturated Fat: < 0.5 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 1.3 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrate: 36.5 g
Fiber: 10 g
Sugar: 10 g
Protein: 11 g
Sodium: 320 mg 14 %
Potassium: 700 mg 15%

Vitamin A: 26% Thiamin: 20% Riboflavin: 13%
Niacin: 12% Pant Acid: 18% Vitamin B6: 25%
Folate: 20% Vitamin C: 20% Vitamin E: 8%
Calcium: 6% Iron: 22% Zinc: 22%
Magnesium: 15% Copper: 46% Selenium: 8 %
Manganese: 53% Phosphorus: 17% Omega 3: 0.3 g (20%)

**vitamins & minerals are listed as % daily value; you may need more than 100% each day if you’re an athlete, have a deficiency disease, or other medical concerns

Updated 11/11/2014