Tea and Cancer Risk, Tilapia and Omega-3, Cleaning your Plate

Tea and Cancer Risk, Tilapia and Omega-3, Cleaning your Plate

Q: Can drinking tea help lower your cancer risk?
Q: Is tilapia one of the fish high in omega-3 fat?
Q: I’m trying to stop cleaning my plate at every meal, but my friends say that I’m wasting food. Is there a healthy compromise?

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

Q: Can drinking tea help lower your cancer risk?

A: Tea has shown anti-cancer activity in test tube and animal studies. Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a natural plant chemical found in green tea, seems to influence the rate of cell growth, cancer cell self-destruction, and the ability of cancer cells to develop a blood supply and metastasize.  But data from population-based studies remains very inconsistent.  Although some studies have shown lower cancer risk among tea drinkers, others find no direct link. Emerging research may help identify if there are certain populations that may benefit more from tea drinking tea (based on particular genes or dietary habits).  In the meantime, tea remains a smart beverage choice since it is calorie-free – unless you load it with sugar; it also provides some antioxidants.  The best dietary advice to help lower cancer risk is to concentrate on an overall healthy plant-based diet that helps you stay at a healthy weight.

Q: Is tilapia one of the fish high in omega-3 fat?

A: No. Tilapia has only about one gram of fat altogether in a serving, unless you add more fat when cooking. Consequently, the amount of omega-3 fat in tilapia is much less than the amount in fatty fish like salmon, Atlantic mackerel, sea bass, rainbow trout, albacore tuna, herring and sardines. However, tilapia is still a good meal choice. It’s a sweet, mild fish that is great for people who don’t like a fishy taste. It’s also wonderful when you want to use a flavorful sauce or seasoning that the fish won’t compete with. You don’t have to look for fish with high amounts of omega-3 fat, if you want to eat better. Simply having any kind of fish twice a week has been linked with health benefits.

Q: I’m trying to stop cleaning my plate at every meal, but my friends say that I’m wasting food. Is there a healthy compromise?

A: You can follow internal hunger signals for how much to eat without wasting food. Paying attention to these signals is considered an important part of healthy eating and weight control. Many people, however, have grown up with the idea that cleaning their plate is the key to avoiding food waste. But you should realize that eating more than you need is also wasting food. To really avoid any waste, you need to put less food on your plate. That’s the bottom line, and it should please everyone. To do this at home, you can prepare less food. When eating out, order smaller portions, skip extra courses, or get an appetizer and a salad or soup instead of a traditional main dish. When there’s less food to start with, and you still can’t eat it all, there won’t be much left behind. Another strategy is to practice saving food for future meals. You can either serve the food in the same form, or add it to soups, casseroles, salads and sandwiches. To follow this plan, you can make or buy the same amount of food, but serve yourself a much smaller portion than usual. If you are hungry after eating this amount, have more. When you are satisfied, store the remainder for another meal. Leftovers can make a quick healthy meal on busy nights when you might otherwise turn to fast-food restaurants. They can also make good take-to-work lunches.