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Meatless Mondays for Dental Health: 1800Dentist.com

When the "Meatless Monday" campaign first launched, it was a movement promoted by the U.S. Food Administration as a way to encourage families to lower their consumption of foods necessary to the war effort. Circa 2003, the once a week vegetarian trend once again picked up steam thanks to a former ad exec turned health advocate. Now "Meatless Monday" is a handy catch phrase for various websites looking to pick up readership and it is a smart move for individuals looking to boost dental health and for keeping food expenses on target.

Ask a vegetarian what diet is best, and they will say one devoid of animal food product however meat-eaters don't agree. Instead, carnivores opt to get many of their essential nutrients in a diet filled with chicken, beef, fish (rich in omega-3 oils), dairy foods and other animal by-products. Despite the different views of the food chain, statistics from the American Meat Institute indicate that approximately 20 percent of all Americans are now tapping into the Meatless Monday craze and focusing on certain plant based foods can help provide vitamins and nutrients that can help ward off dental problems such as tooth decay, gum disease and even oral cancer.

Save a Cow, Eat More Beans and Nuts

Many things have been said about beans, but regardless of legumes being the 'musical fruit' they are the staple for many animal free diets and are an important ingredient to ensure sufficient levels of protein, calcium and other nutrition essential for dental health. Carnivores unfamiliar with beans and nuts will be pleased to know that they are easy to prepare, delicious to eat and cost pennies per serving (substantially less money than any type of healthful cuts of meat).

In regards to dental health, protein is an essential nutrient for ensuring cellular function and for carrying enzymes essential for naturally warding off dental problems and is a major component of the Nutrition Plate produced by the United State Department of Agriculture (http://www.choosemyplate.gov/foodgroups/proteinfoods.html). Calcium is important as it supports "blood clotting, sending nerve signals, releasing hormones and enzymes, as well as muscle and blood vessel contraction and relaxation," and allows for mineralization of human bones (1-800-DENTIST). Beans (including but not limited to black beans, soy beans, chickpeas, peanut butter and split peas) have plenty of both oral health boosting compounds.

Regardless of what type of bean or nut is used as a Meatless Monday ingredient, consumers should choose unsalted ingredients to keep sodium levels at bay. Some recipe options include:

  • Szechuan Noodles as the sauce features the nutty goodness of both peanut butter and tahini (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/szechuan-noodles-recipe/index.html). For an additional boost, consumers should use a whole grain pasta and add some steamed broccoli, yum!
  • Banana Black Bean Empanadas (http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipes/10935?section=) are a delicious spin on traditional on classic Argentinean pastry. The flavor is a bit sweet and spicy, and the black beans seamlessly blend to make a delicious hand-held edible delight.
  • Homemade Vegetarian Chili (like the classic from the Moosewood restaurant in Ithaca, New York [http://recipeland.com/recipe/v/Moosewood-Vegetarian-Chili-20786] is packed with kidney beans, whole grains, vegetables and flavor. Even meat eaters will adore this recipe.

Leafy Greens Fight Oral Cancer

The bulk of the American diet should consist of fruit and vegetables (together they comprise half of the USDA's Nutrition Plate) and Meatless Mondays is an excellent way to incorporate the powerful anti-cancer muscle of leafy greens into the mix. Leafy greens are filled with minerals and vitamins that can protect eyesight, minimizing problems associated with aging and deliver great amounts of calcium and phytochemicals in the for warding off oral cancers.

According to 1-800-DENTIST, "Phytochemicals (AKA Phytonutrients) are naturally occurring, plant based chemicals that are easily be ingested to benefit the human body. The compounds are rich in anti-oxidants and have been clinically proven to cause cancer cells to die and repair DNA damage caused by smoking," Leafy greens are packed with them and can be easily incorporated into a Meatless Monday feast:

  • Crispy kale chips (http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipes/11436?section=) are as tasty as potato chips with none of the guilt.
  • Spinach and artichoke dip (http://www.food.com/recipe/crock-pot-spinach-and-artichoke-dip-154551) is always a crowd pleaser and a low-fat version of the stuff will also help sneak some leafy greens into a meal.
  • Real men eat whatever they want and a quiche (http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/spinach-green-onion-smoked-gouda-quiche-10000002001882/) stuffed with cooked leafy greens and a side salad will help up leafy green consumption with ease.
  • If you are craving Asian food a bok choy and tofu stir fry (http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Tofu-and-Bok-Choy-Stir-Fry-135) is fast, inexpensive and a crowd pleaser.

Chocolate A Perfect Meatless Monday Companion

If your family is not too keen on a Meatless Monday menu, they can be easily swayed when they find out how dark chocolate can be part of the mix. Studies out of England have suggested that dark chocolate is equal to exercise in regards to health benefits (http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/top-stories/2011/09/15/dark-chocolate-as-good-for-your-health-as-exercise-115875-23420575/). Research out of Tulane University indicated that pure cocoa extract has a similar structure to caffeine which as been shown to strengthen tooth enamel and lower the chances of developing tooth decay. (Foxnews.com).

When it comes to eating chocolate, the darker the better as research has indicated dark chocolate featuring 60 to 80 percent cocoa content packs a powerful dental health punch. There are a number of ways to incorporate the treat into meals including:

  • Plain, a 3.5 serving is all that is required to feel satiated and to get the dental health fighting properties of the delight.
  • Mole sauce is a popular Mexican sauce typically served over meat and poultry. Individuals can make a vegan Mole (http://www.nomeatathlete.com/easy-vegan-chipotle-mole-sauce/) sauce and put it over grilled tofu, seitan, rice or fried plantains.
  • While chocolate fondue (http://www.extremechocolate.com/chocolatefonduerecipe.html) is not the best choice for every Meatless Monday dinner, it is a great option for a holiday feast when the meal is solely chocolate and includes healthy fruit such as strawberries, pears, apples and bananas.

Individuals struggling to find other Meatless Monday recipes for dental health simply need to visit a dentist to get more ideas. A professional dental care provider is the best resource to find out the best foods for dental health. Patients needing to find a dentist to discuss the matter further simply need to call 1-800-DENTIST to get the number of a qualified dentist up-to-the task.

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