Healthy Heart: Meatless Mondays

By Suzanne Proulx

February 26, 2013 Updated Feb 26, 2013 at 11:35 AM EDT

(WBNG Binghamton) The Meatless Mondays health initiative has been around for a while but keeps gaining popularity due to the health perks associated with going vegetarian just one day per week.

What are the health perks?

Studies show regular intake of red meat and especially processed meats like sausage, bacon, hot dogs increases risk of heart disease and stroke.

Reducing your intake of these meats, while eating healthful plant-based foods instead helps lower your cholesterol and blood pressure to reduce this risk.

Choosing leaner meats like skinless chicken, 93 percent fat-free ground turkey or beef, tuna and salmon helps too.

What are plant-based foods?

They are foods you already eat including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, lentils nuts and soy. Making foods like these the focus in your diet, with meat on the side, boosts your intake of health-protective vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Plant-based foods also supply fiber, protein or both for serious appetite control and possibly even weight management.

How to start:

-Omit lean ground turkey or beef from chili and add an extra can of drained and rinsed beans
-Make a veggie and low-fat cheese topped pizza on whole wheat crust, minus the pepperoni
-Swap burgers for "meaty" portabella mushroom caps or veggie burgers
-Or use meatless soy crumbles and black beans as the base for your next taco night!

Are there any other perks?
Skipping meat just once a week is also beneficial to the environment and helps keep your grocery budget in check.