Flexing your flexitarian muscles

September 7, 2017 - 9:47am

Worldwide, vegetarians overwhelmingly outnumber meat-eaters! According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, around 4 billion folks eat a mostly plant-based diet; 2 billion are mostly meat-eaters. But in America, only around 4.7 million folks are complete vegetarians, according to the Vegetarian Resource Group. Another 1.6 million or more are vegans who never eat any animal-related products.

However, 22 million of your friends and neighbors are flexitarians; that is, they eat meat, fish and/or poultry occasionally, but their diet is plant-centered.

So, if YOU don’t want to give up all animal products (salmon, skinless poultry, low-fat dairy), well, they’re a group who can teach you a thing or two about maximizing your health and satisfying your occasional desire to enjoy animal protein.

What’s wrong with eating meat?

If you’re talking about red meat (beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton and goat) or processed meats (salted, cured, fermented, smoked or otherwise processed to enhance flavor and act as a preservative), plenty. Not only are they loaded
with heart-clogging, brain-dimming, wrinkle-inducing, sex-life-stalling, inflammation-promoting saturated fat, they are, according to the World Health Organization, linked to cancer.

WHO classifies red meat as probably linked to cancer and processed meats as definitely linked to colorectal cancer — and studies show the incidence in the U.S. among Caucasians under age 50 is rising significantly. In addition,
processed meats have been linked to everything from high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, diabetes and stroke to worsening of COPD.

Are You Typical?
Unfortunately, the typical American is what we might call an anti-vegetarian. They’ve never met a vegetable ... Well, that’s it; they’ve never met a vegetable — or a fruit.

From ages 14 to 70, 80 to 90 percent of guys are not getting the recommended intake of fruit. For women the same ages, 70 to 80 percent are also missing out on the benefits, including gastrointestinal health and weight control. The stats on veggie consumption are just as bad: Men and women ages 50 to 71 eat more veggies than other age groups, but 78 and 68 percent of them respectively still miss out on the minimum daily recommended intake. And many age groups in this country come perilously close to having 100 percent of their population miss the recommended levels of intake. Yikes!

Flex Those Flexitarian Muscles!
If you’re interested in trying out a lessanimal-based diet, there’s lots of help around. The Monday Campaigns’ Meatless Monday (meatlessmonday.org) suggests declaring one day a week meatfree, and offers free, downloadable meatless

And we have a great five-step plan to get you started!
1. Turn fish and skinless poultry into side dishes, not the main course. Limit your serving size to 3-6 ounces per meal.

2. Adopt smart plate geometry when eating animal protein: Make half of your plate veggies and fruits, a quarter of your plate 100 percent whole grains, and a quarter of it animal-based proteins.
3. Always get between 5 and 9 servings of fresh veggies and fruit daily. One serving of fresh fruit equals 1 apple or 1 cup of cut-up fresh fruit; a serving of 100 percent whole grain equals 1/2 cup cooked brown rice, whole-wheat pasta or cooked oatmeal, 1 ounce dry pasta or brown rice; a serving of veggies equals 1 cup raw vegetable or 2 cups leafy salad greens.
4. Explore the world of vegetable and mainly vegetable entrees your family will love. Check out the Cleveland Clinic’s online treasure trove (the Heart Healthy Recipe Center). Some great main course salad choices: Bean and Artichoke Salad, Cold Asian Salad with Salmon, Quinoa and Apple Salad with Almonds and Mint, Tuna and Avocado Cobb Salad!
5. For end-of-summer fun: Explore the goodness of grilled tofu (marinated of course), corn, root veggies, even romaine lettuce! Concoct a veggie burger from chickpeas, lentils, shredded zucchini, carrots (blanched), mushrooms, onions
and herbs and spices. Bye, bye beef burger.
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Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.
© 2017 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc

This column is sponsored by your local choice for healthy lifestyle products -Nutter's Bulk and Natural Foods
365 36th St. W, Prince Albert, SK
Phone: (306) 922-3835

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