Coffee and Cancer, Wrap Sandwiches, and Healthy Meals

Q: Is coffee currently considered beneficial, harmful or neutral in its effect on health?
Q: Are wrap-style sandwiches lower in calories than traditional styles?
Q: I am always on the run. What can I stock in my cabinets to make healthy meals possible when I get home?

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

Q: Is coffee currently considered beneficial, harmful or neutral in its effect on health?
A: Old fears that coffee might increase risk of cancer are no longer considered valid. Overall, laboratory studies suggest that regular and decaffeinated coffee (brewed, not instant) may offer a variety of health benefits because of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds coffee contains. These properties seen in laboratory studies mean that coffee could reduce risk of cancer. Population studies vary in showing reduced cancer risk or no effect. Population studies are also mixed in showing benefit or no effect of coffee on heart disease risk. Historically, caffeine has been linked with raising blood pressure, but recent studies suggest that caffeine from coffee does not increase blood pressure (caffeine from other sources may). Several studies now link coffee with lower diabetes risk; questions remain about any potential advantage of decaf or regular coffee. Those with heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), however, should avoid or strictly limit both regular and decaf coffee, and people with sleep difficulties should be careful as well. Many experts suggest that pregnant women limit total daily caffeine from coffee, soft drinks and other sources to about 300 mg, which is the equivalent of three cups of regular coffee.

Q: Are wrap-style sandwiches lower in calories than traditional styles?
A: As always, portion size has a huge impact on calorie and nutrient content. If sandwich fillings were the same, a one ounce flatbread or tortilla wrap would contain about 70 to 110 calories less than a sandwich on two slices of bread. However, some wraps are two to three ounces and contain the same calories as two to three slices of bread. You also have to consider the fat content and amount of the sandwich filling. Compare wraps and sandwiches with similar low-fat filling offered at one national restaurant chain: a wrap has about the same calories as a sandwich on a round deli-type roll and slightly less calories than a six-inch sub. If a wrap’s filling includes mayonnaise, bacon and other high-fat ingredients, it may be close to double the calories of a low-fat small sandwich.

Q: I am always on the run. What can I stock in my cabinets to make healthy meals possible when I get home?
A: Quick-cooking brown rice and whole-grain pasta and couscous are easy starters. If you have room in the freezer for whole wheat rolls and tortillas that you can pull out when needed, so much the better. Canned kidney beans and other legumes are easily rinsed and added to a variety of dishes. Canned diced tomatoes are wonderful pantry items to use over whole grain pasta or for a quickly assembled soup or vegetarian chili. You might have some reduced-sodium soups on hand that you can “doctor up” easily by adding extra frozen vegetables and legumes. Tuna is easy to keep around; if you can cook and freeze extra chicken breasts that makes another quick and healthy source of protein. Keep a stash of mustard, spices and sauces also, to make these quick meals delicious.

Reprinted with permission from the American Institute for Cancer Research www.aicr.org

Share.

About Author

Posts By 3FC