In recent years more and more people have started to approach a vegan diet, others to a vegetarian diet and some have decided to eliminate from their diet only meat and its derivatives, but not fish (the so-called "pescetarian").
These diets are characterized by daily consumption of vegetables, fruits, cereals and legumes, which reduce the intake of saturated fats and cholesterol and therefore have protective properties against various chronic pathologies.
The EPIC project, an observational study conducted by researchers at the University of Oxford, found that those who consume only plant-based food or possibly even fish are less likely to develop cardiovascular disease, even among those who follow improper behavior such as smoking habits or poor physical activity. This result appears to be due to a lower incidence of certain risk factors such as obesity, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia and type 2 diabetes in the vegetarian and pescetarian population.
Let’s see together what differentiates the vegetarian diet from the vegan and pescetarian ones.
Differences between vegetarian, vegan and pescetarian diet
Within the definition of a vegetarian diet there are different food models:
- Lacto-Ovo Vegetarianism: meat and its derivatives and various aquatic species (fish, mollusks and crustaceans) are excluded from the diet. Milk, dairy products and eggs, in addition to plant-based food, are allowed. By adequately alternating the consumption of animal and vegetable protein sources, this type of diet is balanced and balanced.
- Lacto-Vegetarianism: in this type of diet, in addition to meat and fish, the consumption of eggs is also eliminated. It is important to compensate for the exclusion of almost all sources of animal origin with the right proportion of vegetable protein, without exaggerating the consumption of milk and dairy products. It is important, instead, to keep under control the levels of vitamin B12 (an egg can make about half of the daily requirement of this nutrient in an adult), possibly resorting to the use of supplements.
This diet provides for the exclusion of all foods of animal origin, including milk and eggs, and is therefore based on the consumption of only vegetables (vegetables, legumes, fruits, mushrooms and algae). The vegan diet must be well planned, because it can expose you to various nutritional deficiencies, such as vitamin B12 deficiency, calcium, zinc, iron or omega-3 fatty acids. In particular, the vegan population needs integration of vitamin B12, since this nutrient is present exclusively in foods of animal origin.
This term, coined in the early 1990s, refers to a diet without meat, but that includes fish and seafood. Following a pescetarian diet is more difficult to meet nutritional deficiencies: the addition of fish provides, in fact, a good share of "good" fatty acids of the omega-3 series.
The only recommended precaution is to vary as much as possible the type of fish, limiting those of larger size, for example, tuna or swordfish and preferring smaller ones, such as bluefish, to limit the intake of some contaminants present in the sea, like mercury.
The Longevity Diet and pescetarian diet
A specific facet of pescetarianism is the Longevity Diet. It is a semi-vegetarian diet, in which the main source of protein comes from the consumption of legumes, but with the addition of fish 2-3 times a week. It is recommended to choose fish, crustaceans and mollusks with a high content of omega-3/6 and/or vitamin B12 (salmon, anchovies, sardines, cod, bream, trout, seafood and shrimp). Occasionally it is possible to introduce other foods of animal origin such as eggs and some types of cheese, preferably sheep or goat (for example feta or pecorino).
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