Ovarian Cancer Research, Splurging on Weekends, Preparing Jicama

Q: What’s the latest research on preventing ovarian cancer?
Q: If I eat healthfully during the week, can I splurge on the weekends?
Q: How do you prepare jicama?

Karen Collins, MS, RD, CDN
American Institute for Cancer Research

Q: What’s the latest research on preventing ovarian cancer?

A: Prevention of ovarian cancer is especially important because it often has no symptoms in early stages. As a result, it is frequently diagnosed at a more advanced stage, resulting in poorer survival rates than some other common cancers. At this time, there is no consensus in the research community regarding proven approaches to lower risk for developing ovarian cancer.

According to some research, diets high in certain flavonoid compounds that are found in vegetables, fruits, beans and tea may lower a woman’s risk. Other research shows benefit from greater consumption of carotenoids, another phytochemical found in a wide range of produce. According to the landmark report on diet and cancer prevention from the American Institute for Cancer Research, limited evidence suggests that non-starchy vegetables may protect against the disease. Some research shows that breastfeeding may lower a woman’s risk – probably through its impact on hormones. And, although results are mixed, limited studies suggest that obesity may increase risk for this cancer.

For now, women are best advised not to focus on a single potential link highlighted in one or two studies, but to follow current guidelines to lower overall cancer risk. General recommendations include following a diet that provides a wide variety of vegetables and other plant-based foods, getting regular physical activity and being mindful of weight control.

Q: If I eat healthfully during the week, can I splurge on the weekends?

A: Unfortunately, two-and-a-half days of excess can easily undo the benefits of eating healthfully the rest of the week. While an occasional indulgence is certainly okay, refrain from grabbing everything you see. Instead, choose a few selections that really give you pleasure and let other options pass. While many people are wary of a “big splurge” of 400 or 500 calories, an occasional treat is unlikely to throw your weight loss efforts off course. The real trouble comes from the “harmless” 100-calorie extras, which, 10 times over, can really add up. One solution: avoid overly restricting yourself during the week. That way you won’t head into the weekend feeling deprived and will be better able to handle temptation.

You also might consider re-thinking your definition of a “treat.” Instead of high-calorie food that offers little nutritional value, why not embrace the opportunity to try new foods? Sample an unfamiliar but tantalizing tropical fruit for a snack or dessert, or relax with a specialty tea. Finally, if food and drink splurges have been your way to reward yourself and relax after a hard week, experiment with non-food ways to accomplish the same goal. Treat yourself to a movie, spend some quality time with an old friend or enjoy time outdoors.

Q: How do you prepare jicama?

A: Jicama (hee-kah-mah) is a root vegetable that looks like a cross between a turnip and a potato. You can peel it, slice it into strips and serve it raw in salads or with a low fat dip. You can also cook it by steaming, stir-frying, or oven roasting. Jicamas have a mild flavor and crunchy texture.

You should choose smaller ones because they’re less woody. They should be free of bruises. A whole cup of raw jicama contains only about 50 calories. They are an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of dietary fiber.

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