For Immediate Release: January 2, 2008
Contacts: Shannon Campbell 202-328-7744 x235
Glen Weldon 202-328-7744 x312

Switch it up for Lunch

Healthier Alternatives For Your Favorite Sandwich

WASHINGTON, DC – If this year’s resolutions once again include such perennials as losing weight and eating healthier, following a few lunchtime tips from the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) will help you do both at the same time.

A recently published AICR report provided the world with ten recommendations for cancer prevention that were based on a five-year analysis of over 7,000 studies, and one of those recommendations relates directly to your lunch.

Recommendation Number Five states: “Limit intake of red meat and avoid processed meat.”

Experts: Switch Out Processed Meats

Based on “convincing” evidence, the expert panel recommends avoiding processed meats such as ham, bacon, sausage and lunchmeat. (A grade of convincing means that the evidence met the panel’s strictest criteria; other grades included “probable,” “limited, but suggestive,” “limited, but no conclusion possible” and finally “substantial effect on risk unlikely”). Late last month, researchers at the National Cancer Institute issued a study that echoed AICR’s recommendation.

The experts are aware that the American love of processed meat is here to stay. “An occasional hot dog at a ball game, a festive ham at family gatherings – these aren’t going to kill you,” said AICR nutritionist Karen Collins, MS, RD. “What we’re cautioning against is making bacon, ham, sausage and lunchmeat a part of your everyday pattern of eating. Enjoy these foods, just make serving them a special occasion.”

After careful consideration of the collected evidence on processed meat, the AICR panel could determine no level of consumption that was not associated with a small but measurable increase in colorectal cancer risk. The observed increase in risk was dose-dependent: every 1.7 ounces consumed per day was associated with a 21 percent increase in the risk of colorectal cancer.

When making sandwiches, that amount is roughly equivalent to two slices of lunchmeat or one medium hot dog. That’s why the AICR experts are stressing that sandwiches stuffed with deli meats are not your only option at lunch hour.

Here are some suggestions for healthy, portable and delicious sandwiches that are a far cry from plain old ham and cheese.

Twist on a Favorite
To transform the classic club sandwich, enjoy the traditional roast turkey breast, but freshen up your sandwich toppings with vegetables. Instead of slices of greasy bacon, add a layer of avocado to hold the sandwich together. Forget about the full-fat mayonnaise and try a new condiment such as Dijon mustard or fruit chutney. If you’re craving a mile-high version, layer on more veggies, not meat.

International Experience
Prepare a Mediterranean sandwich instead of a meat-laden “Italian” sub. Marinate canned artichoke hearts, sliced onions and red and green peppers in a touch of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Grill or broil the vegetables up to five minutes, add a handful of pitted olives and enjoy on a whole-grain baguette.

Bye Bye Bologna
The epitome of processed sandwich meat should be replaced by freshly roasted chicken in your refrigerator. Take advantage of dinnertime leftovers and use the extra chicken for lunchtime sandwiches. Not only is roast chicken breast much healthier than bologna, but you can be much more creative with it since it tastes delicious when served with many vegetables and fruits.

Here are some more ideas:

  • Tuna salad with low-fat mayonnaise, celery and fresh spinach in whole wheat pita bread
  • Sliced roast turkey breast, cranberry relish and sliced apples on toasted multigrain bread.
  • Whole-wheat sandwich wraps with grilled chicken breast, humus and red onions.
  • Curried chicken salad with grapes on a whole-wheat roll.

Read more about the AICR report’s recommendations.


The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $85 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its Web site, AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.

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