The best way to lower the energy density of a meal is to increase the proportion of plant foods while decreasing the proportion of
energy-dense foods. If you are already filling two-thirds of your plate with vegetables, fruits, wholegrains and pulses such as beans to
reduce your chances of developing cancer, you are half way towards managing your weight.
Low energy alternatives of some high energy-dense foods
High Energy Dense Food (in 100g) Low Energy Dense Food (in 100g) Calories Saved
French fries Baked potato with skin 125Kcal
Spaghetti with cream sauce Spaghetti with tomato sauce 75Kcal
Crepe with ice-cream and chocolate sauce Crepe with fresh berries and sherbet 72Kcal
Stir fried beef noodles Vegetable and beef noodles in soup 100Kcal
Tuna salad sandwich Chicken and tomato sandwich 50Kcal
Fried rice Steamed rice 60 Kcal
Milk tea Chinese tea 45 Kcal
Sample Low Energy-Dense Meal Plan
Breakfast Lunch Dinner
• Tomato and cheese whole- • Wonton soup noodles with boiled • Brown rice
wheat sandwich vegetables • Steamed chicken with mushroom and wood-ear fungus
• Three-pepper tofu stir-fry*
• Chicken, lettuce and • Beef (3 oz) and vegetables soup Udon • Whole-wheat spaghetti
macaroni in soup • Japanese style stir-fried mixed • Pan-fried salmon (3oz)
vegetables • Garden salad with balsamic vinaigrette dressing
• Oatmeal with low-fat milk • Whole-wheat tomato turkey sandwich • Brown rice
and fresh blueberries • Green salad with vinaigrette dressing • Stir fried shredded pork (3 oz) with mixed bell peppers
• Steamed eggplant with minced garlic sauce
*Three-pepper Tofu Stir-fry
seeded and chopped 2. Remove the tofu from the marinade and
• 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped reserve the marinade.
• 1 scallion, trimmed and sliced 3. Gently pat the tofu dry with paper towels.
• 1 celery rib, sliced 4. In a large non-stick skillet, heat 1 tbsp of
• 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce the canola oil over medium-high heat.
• 1 cup fresh pineapple chunks, drained 5. Add the tofu and cook about 10 minutes,
• 1 teaspoon cornstarch turning gently every few minutes to brown
all of the sides evenly. Transfer to a bowl.
Marinade: 6. Add the remaining 1 tsp of canola oil to
• ½ cup pineapple juice the skillet and heat over medium-high heat
• 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar until hot.
• 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce 7. Stir-fry the onion, bell peppers, scallion,
• ¼ teaspoon sesame oil and celery, until the bell peppers are crisp
• 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce but tender. Add the pineapple.
• 1 teaspoon ground ginger 8. Add the cornstarch to the reserved
Ingredients: (Serves 4) • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic marinade and stir until completely
• 1 pack (450g) extra firm tofu, well drained, blended.
patted dry and cut into large cubes Method: 9. Quickly return the tofu to the skillet and stir
• 1 tablespoon plus 1 tsp canola oil 1. In a large bowl, mix together the marinade gently until the marinade has turned clear
• ½ medium purple onion, sliced ingredients and add the tofu. Refrigerate and thick, about 2 to 3 minutes. Ready
• ½ medium yellow, green bell pepper, for 1 hour or up to 24 hours. to serve.
WCRF HK Nutrition Newsletter Issue 17 / Spring 2008
Top tips for maintaining a healthy weight
1. Choose foods with low energy density such as fruits and vegetables
Foods low in energy density, such as vegetables, fruits, wholegrains and beans, are usually high
in water and fibre content. These foods can fill you up without providing a lot of calories. Also,
remember to use as little oil as possible when preparing these foods.
2. Avoid sugary drinks
A significant amount of research shows that sugary drinks, like soda, squashes, fruit drinks, milk
tea and many soy drinks, contribute to weight gain, especially if they are consumed often. These
drinks can be easily consumed in large quantities but don’t make us feel full, even though they
are quite high in calories. A better option is to choose water. Unsweetened tea and coffee (aim to
limit coffee to no more than 2-3 cups per day) are also preferred.
3. Be physically active
Keeping active helps us burn calories, which are stored as fat if they are not used up. You can try
walking instead of taking transportation for short distance travel. Also try to do activities that get you
moving, such as cleaning the home, visiting the local shops or going for a walk with a friend.
4. Work on portion control
The portions of food we consume in restaurants are larger than before. Having more food than
we need provides too many calories and leads to weight gain. To avoid overeating, the best thing
to do is to stop eating before you feel full as it may take some time for the stomach to send the
message of fullness to the brain.
Energy Density: a new term in weight management
When it comes to weight control, experts are looking for all of the answers. It’s not surprising then, that when a Panel of 21 international
scientists found that weight control was a top cancer prevention strategy, they too were confronted with the question of how best to promote a
healthy body weight which individuals can achieve and maintain. After the Panel reviewed over 7,000 studies, energy density stood out as a
key factor in weight management.
What is energy density?
Energy density describes how the calorie content varies within the same size portion of different foods. Energy-dense foods, which have more
calories per gram, are usually high in fat and/or added sugars. Foods high in energy density include French fries, spring rolls, candy bars,
cookies and other rich bakery items. Conversely, low energy-dense foods tend to be high in water and fibre, so their calories are relatively
diluted, making these foods lower in energy density. Vegetables, beans, most fruits and whole grains fall into the low-energy-dense category.
For a lot of people, when talking about weight management, the immediate idea that comes to mind is to cut down on high fat/high energy-
dense foods. This may be part of the approach. However, most of us are used to the portions sizes we eat everyday. Therefore, simply cutting
down on high-fat foods without replacing other food items may lead to excess hunger, which may in turn lead to overeating. In fact, we
should look at the overall energy density of our meal rather than just a single food. By substituting high fat foods with vegetables, fruits, and
wholegrains in the diet, we can lower the energy density of the meal significantly. In this way, the portion of food we eat will remain the same,
but with much less calories
WCRF HK's Recommendation for Cancer Prevention:
WCRF HK's Recommendation for Cancer Prevention:
Eat more of a variety of vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, and
Avoid sugary drinks. Limit consumption of energy-dense
pulses such as beans
foods (particularly processed foods high in added sugar,
Basing our diets on
or low in fibre, or high in fat)
plant foods (like
Choosing healthy foods
and drinks instead of
wholegrains, and pulses
those that are high in fat,
such as beans), which
sugar, and calories (energy
contain fibre and other
dense) can help us avoid
nutrients, can reduce
overweight and obesity and
our risk of cancer.
thereby reduce our risk of
>>>P2<<< WCRF HK Nutrition Newsletter Issue 17 / Spring 2008
I S S U E 17 • S p r i n g 2 0 0 8
Thank you for reading our Nutrition Newsletter – a quarterly publication of World Cancer Research Fund Hong Kong (WCRF
HK) aimed at providing general health tips and the latest nutrition news to the general public for the prevention of cancer.
WCRF HK is part of a global network of organisations dedicated to the prevention of cancer through a healthy diet, regular
physical activity and maintenance of a healthy weight. WCRF HK is a registered charity committed to funding cancer research and
education programmes which expand our understanding of the importance of our food and lifestyle choices in the cancer process.
Your Weight – an indicator of your cancer risk
You may be aware of the relationship between overweight and heart disease and diabetes, but did you know that there is a link between
overweight and cancer? From the Expert Report published by the World Cancer Research Fund global network (www.dietandcancerreport.
org) in November 2007, there is convincing scientific evidence linking overweight and increased body fatness to higher risk of six types of
cancer including cancer of the colorectum, oesophagus, pancreas, kidney, endometrium and breast (in postmenopausal women). Therefore,
maintaining a healthy weight is one of the most important things you can do to reduce your risk of developing cancer.
What is a healthy weight?
WCRF HK's Recommendation for Cancer Prevention:
There are two methods to check if your weight is within the healthy range;
Be as lean as possible without becoming underweight
one is calculating your Body Mass Index (BMI); the other is measuring
A healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) for men and women
your waist circumference. Studies have shown that fat, particularly if it is
in Asia is between 18.5-22.9, while a BMI of 23 or more
stored around the waist, is linked to greater risk of cancer.
is considered as
We also know that where we store extra weight affects our cancer risk.
obese. For cancer
Scientists have found that carrying excess body fat around the waist is
particularly harmful. This extra body fat acts like a ‘hormone pump’
should aim for
releasing oestrogen into the bloodstream as well as raising levels of
the lower end of
other hormones in the body, which is strongly linked to colorectal cancer
the healthy BMI
and probably cancers of the pancreas, endometrium, and breast (in
postmenopausal women). The WCRF/AICR Expert Report estimates a
five percent increase in colorectal cancer risk with each one-inch (2.5cm)
increase in waist circumference.
Measuring your waist
Calculating your BMI 1. Place a tape measure around
1. Convert your weight into kilograms (kg) and your your waist at the narrowest
height into meters (m). point between the bottom of
2. Divide your weight by your height squared. This your ribs and top of your hip
figure is your BMI. bone.
2. Make sure the tape is snug but
For example, here is the calculation for a person who is
doesn’t compress your skin.
5’5” (165cm) tall and who weighs 130 pounds (59kg).
3. Measure after breathing out.
Weight: 59 = BMI of 21.7
Height2: (1.65 X 1.65) A healthy waist measurement for
Asian is less than 80cm/31.5” for
A healthy BMI for men and women in Asia is between
women and less than 90cm/35.5”
quot; Stopping cancer before it startsquot; >>>P1<<<