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Chris Elam

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Meatless Monday: Does Your Health Matter? (RECIPES, PHOTOS)

Posted: 04/26/10 10:14 AM ET

Science often has a funny way of making people react in a rather unscientific manner. Emotions play their fractious part, particularly when it comes to something as deeply personal as the food we eat, the fuel we put in our tank.

Meatless Monday is backed by over 20 public health schools around the country. They provide the building blocks, and we build the facade. We're growing an international movement that connects people, schools, campuses, workplaces, communities and entire cities by the simple idea of cutting meat one day a week.

As a nonprofit public health initiative, for us it all comes down to personal health. Here are our building blocks...

LIMIT CANCER RISK: Hundreds of studies suggest that diets high in fruits and vegetables may reduce cancer risk. Both red and processed meat consumption are associated with colon cancer.

REDUCE HEART DISEASE: Recent data from a Harvard University study found that replacing saturated fat-rich foods (for example, meat and full-fat dairy) with foods that are high in polyunsaturated fat (for example, vegetable oils, nuts and seeds) reduces the risk of heart disease by 19%.

FIGHT DIABETES: Research suggests that higher consumption of red and processed meat increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.

CURB OBESITY: People on low-meat or vegetarian diets have significantly lower body weight and body mass indices. A plant-based diet is a great source of fiber (absent in animal products). This makes you feel full with fewer calories, ie. lower calorie intake and less overeating. Research has found that eating more plant foods and less animal products may help individuals control their weight.

LIVE LONGER: Red and processed meat consumption are associated with modest increases in total mortality, cancer mortality and cardiovascular disease mortality.

IMPROVE YOUR DIET: Consuming beans and peas results in higher intakes of fiber, protein, folate, zinc, iron and magnesium with lower intakes of saturated fats and total fats.

There you have it. Now, even if you think this is bunkem, it's incontrovertible that vegetables are good for your health. That's why the Meatless Monday Recipes we offer this week are delicious, unique and veggie-centric. Give 'em a try. And if there are studies or reports or findings or just your own noodlings that represent your opinion on this critical topic, please send them my way in a Comment. After all, what's a little healthy debate about health among friends?

Asparagus with Orange Vinaigrette
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Gather round the barbecue and celebrate spring by chowing down on asparagus tossed with blood orange and shallot.

View recipe details. Recipe courtesy of FormerChef.com.
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