If you’re looking to cut back on meat consumption—but becoming vegan or vegetarian seems like a pretty big leap—the Pesco-Mediterranean diet might be your best bet.
A predominantly plant-based diet can still satisfy your animal protein intake, while offering a range of benefits to promote a healthier lifestyle.
So what is the Pesco-Mediterranean diet and is it really the best option for your health?
What is the Pisco-Mediterranean Diet?
The Pesco-Mediterranean diet is essentially the Mediterranean diet along with fish and seafood as the main sources of animal food.
The Mayo Clinic explains that the Mediterranean diet (made mostly of plant foods, with olive oil being the main source of added fat) is based on the traditional cuisines of Greece, Italy and other countries bordering the Mediterranean.
A typical Mediterranean diet pattern entails the following key aspects, according to the Mayo Clinic:
- Make meals around vegetables, beans and whole grains.
- Eat fish at least twice a week.
- Use olive oil instead of butter when cooking.
- Serve fresh fruit for dessert.
The basis of the Pesco-Mediterranean diet usually consists of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains, as well as extra-virgin olive oil, fish, seafood and fermented dairy products.
Health Benefits of the Pesco-Mediterranean Diet
Talking to Newsweek, The Pesco-Mediterranean diet “follows the positive trend of the benefits of the traditional Mediterranean diet,” said Catherine Zeratsky, a registered dietitian (RDN) at the Mayo Clinic.
It’s also important to note that before making any changes to your diet, it’s always a good idea to consult with RDN first because “RDN can help you determine the best eating pattern to suit your unique needs,” Roxana Ehsani, RDN and national media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition And nutrition, he said Newsweek.
Reduce meat consumption
Since it entails eating more fish and seafood, the Pesco-Mediterranean diet reduces consumption of meat, including red meat and processed meat, which are “pro-inflammatory” and increase levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein), Ehsani warns .
Zyratsky explained that red and processed meats are an important source of saturated fat. Processed meats tend to be high in sodium and other additives that may reduce nutritional quality.
“In contrast, eating fish, often attributed to healthy fats, has been shown to reduce coronary artery disease and sudden cardiac death and may also benefit other systems in our bodies such as brain health and a reduced risk of cancer,” Zeratsky noted.
Fatty fish (such as mackerel, herring, sardines, albacore tuna, and salmon) are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are polyunsaturated fats that help fight infections in the body.
…and the risk of heart disease
Eating more red and processed meat in greater amounts and/or frequency is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and colon cancer, Zyratsky said.
Study 2020 in peer review Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC) Note that increased consumption of fish (as long as it is not fried fish) has been associated with a lower risk of heart failure and a lower incidence of metabolic syndrome (a group of conditions that occur together, increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes).
Ehsani also warned that eating a lot of meat can harm brain health.
The Mayo Clinic says that the omega-3 fatty acids in fatty fish help reduce triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood) and blood clotting as well as the risk of stroke and heart failure.
In a 2018 Science Advisory, the American Heart Association recommended that people eat one or two servings of seafood per week to “reduce the risk of congestive heart failure, coronary heart disease, stroke, and sudden cardiac death.”
…and bad cholesterol
Ehsani said the Pesco-Mediterranean diet focuses on “heart-healthy fats” such as olive oil.
Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat, which can help lower bad LDL cholesterol and raise good HDL. [high-density lipoprotein] She explained.
Good source of low fat protein
Seafood, which is low in saturated fat, is an excellent source of protein. Ehsani said seafood contains essential omega-3 fats, which are heart- and brain-healthy fats.
Eggs are also part of the traditional diet as well as the Pesco-Mediterranean diet. “Eggs are a good source of many nutrients, but two of them are of particular interest – lutein and zeaxanthin, and carotenoids, which are types of antioxidants. They are thought to play a role in brain and eye health,” Zeratsky explained.
…and healthy fats
Nuts and seeds also form a regular part of the Pesco-Mediterranean diet. Ehsani noted that not only are they an excellent source of healthy fats, they are also rich in dietary fiber and provide a lean source of protein.
According to the year 2020 JACC In the study, experimental groups who consumed a Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts or extra virgin olive oil “showed statistically significant reductions of 29 percent in the incidence of major adverse cardiovascular events.” [cardiovascular disease] juveniles—myocardial infarction (MI), stroke, and death from these causes—and 42 percent for stroke,” compared to the simple, low-fat diet groups.
… and vitamin D
Ehsani also noted that seafood is also a good source of vitamin D, a nutrient that is deficient in most people.
“Some fish are a source of vitamin D, which is a trace nutrient in most foods in its natural state. Vitamin D is known to be important to bone health but may have a role in many body functions,” Zeratsky explained.
Zyratsky said a diet of whole grains, beans/legumes (legumes), vegetables, fruits and nuts is rich in fiber, which keeps the digestive system healthy and helps control blood glucose. Fiber also affects our satiety. “Hunger and calorie intake are often controlled with higher intakes.”
She added that the Pesco-Mediterranean diet has the advantage that healthy fats and fats also play a role in feeling full.
“When we are satiated and satisfied with fiber, this can lead to a sustainable, healthy diet that controls calories and keeps our weight in check.
“Weight appears to be a factor in many chronic diseases,” Zeratsky said. “However, if eating this way doesn’t tip the scales, it’s still a nutritious, health-promoting diet.”
The Pesco-Mediterranean diet focuses on fish as a source of protein. “Protein also has a satiating effect and can be useful in controlling hunger and calorie intake,” she explained.
A high proportion of foods rich in nutrients
The Pesco-Mediterranean diet is rich in fruits and vegetables, which are the “most nutrient dense food”, and are packed with vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and antioxidants. It’s generally low in calories, Ehsani said, which supports your overall health.
“In particular, potassium, magnesium, and in some of these foods, calcium, are essential nutrients in controlling blood pressure,” Zyratsky said.