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Why the Pesco-Mediterranean Diet Is the Right Choice for a Healthier Lifestyle

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If you’re looking to cut down on meat consumption but feel like a vegetarian or vegan too much, a pesco Mediterranean diet may be your best bet.

The predominantly plant-based diet can still meet your animal protein needs and at the same time offers a variety of benefits to promote a healthier lifestyle.

So what is in a Pesco Mediterranean Diet and is it really the best choice for your health?

What is a Pesco-Mediterranean Diet?

A Pesco-Mediterranean diet is essentially the Mediterranean diet combined with fish and seafood as your main animal food sources.

A Mediterranean diet (consisting mostly of plant-based foods, with olive oil being the main source of extra fat) is based on traditional cuisines from Greece, Italy, and other Mediterranean countries, explains the Mayo Clinic.

A typical Mediterranean diet, according to the Mayo Clinic, includes the following main aspects:

  • Forms meals based around vegetables, beans and whole grain products.
  • Eat fish at least twice a week.
  • Use olive oil instead of butter when cooking.
  • Serve fresh fruit for dessert.

The basis of a pesco-Mediterranean diet usually consists of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grain products as well as extra virgin olive oil, fish, seafood and fermented dairy products.

A spread of fish, nuts, seeds, beans, cheese and bread, all of which are part of a pesco-Mediterranean diet, on a table.
iStock / Getty Images Plus

Health Benefits of the Pesco-Mediterranean Diet

Speaking to Newsweek, Katherine Zeratsky, a Registered Nutritionist (RDN) at the Mayo Clinic, said the Pesco-Mediterranean Diet “follows the positive trend in the benefits of the traditional Mediterranean diet.”

It is also important to note that it is always best to consult with an RDN first before making any dietary changes, as “an RDN can help you figure out the best eating habits for your individual needs,” Roxana Ehsani, an RDN and national media spokesman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told Newsweek.

Reduces meat consumption

By consuming more seafood, the Pesco-Mediterranean diet reduces your meat consumption, including red meat and processed meat, both of which are “pro-inflammatory” and increase “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol , Ehsani warned.

Zeratsky stated that red and processed meat is a significant source of saturated fat. Processed meat is usually high in sodium and other additives that can dilute nutritional quality.

“On the opposite spectrum, fish consumption, often attributed to healthier fats, has been shown to reduce coronary artery disease and sudden cardiac death, and can also benefit other systems in our body, such as brain health and lowering the risk of cancer,” remarked Zeratsky.

Oily fish (like mackerel, herring, sardines, albacore tuna, and salmon) are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are polyunsaturated fats that help fight inflammation in the body.

… and the risk of heart disease

Zeratsky said consuming red and processed meat in larger quantities and / or frequencies was linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and colon cancer.

A 2020 study in the peer-reviewed Journal of American College of Cardiology (JACC) found that higher consumption of fish (unless fried fish) resulted in lower risk of heart failure and a decrease in the incidence of metabolic syndrome (a collection of conditions that go together and increase your risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes).

Ehsani also warned that high meat consumption can damage brain health.

The Mayo Clinic says the omega-3s in oily fish help reduce triglycerides (a type of fat in your blood) and blood clotting, as well as reducing the risk of stroke and heart failure.

In a 2018 scientific opinion, the American Heart Association recommended that people eat one or two seafood meals a week to “reduce the risk of congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, ischemic stroke, and sudden cardiac death “.

Dorado fish on a table with spices.
Dorado fish with spices, tomatoes, rosemary, olive oil and lemon. Fish and seafood are the most important animal sources of food in a pesco-Mediterranean diet.
iStock / Getty Images Plus

… and ‘bad’ cholesterol

A pesco-Mediterranean diet emphasizes “heart-healthy fats” like olive oil, Ehsani said.

“Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat that can help lower bad LDL cholesterol and increase good HDL [high-density lipoprotein] Cholesterol, “she explained.

Good source of low fat protein

Seafood, low in saturated fat, is an excellent source of protein. Seafood contains omega-3 essential fats, which are “healthy fats for the heart and brain,” Ehsani said.

Eggs are also part of the traditional as well as the pesco-Mediterranean diet. Zeratsky stated, “Eggs are a good source of many nutrients, but two that are of particular interest are lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids – types of antioxidants. They are supposed to play a role in the health of the brain and eyes. “

Grilled prawns on a skewer.
Grilled prawns on a wooden skewer, garnished with fresh herbs and spices. Seafood is an excellent source of low fat protein.
iStock / Getty Images Plus

… and healthy fats

Nuts and seeds are also an integral part of a pesco Mediterranean diet. In addition to being excellent sources of healthy fats, both are high in fiber and a lean source of protein, Ehsani noted.

According to the JACC 2020 study, test groups who consumed a Mediterranean diet containing nuts or extra virgin olive oil had “statistically significant reductions of 29 percent for serious adverse CVD”. [cardiovascular disease] Events – myocardial infarction (MI), stroke, and death from these causes – and 42 percent for strokes, “compared to groups on a simple low-fat diet.

A bowl of nuts on a table.
A bowl of nuts seen on a table. Both nuts and seeds are good sources of healthy fats and proteins in a pesco Mediterranean diet.
iStock / Getty Images Plus

… and vitamin D.

Ehsani also stressed that seafood is also a good source of vitamin D, a nutrient that most people are deficient in, she said.

Zeratsky stated, “Some fish are a source of vitamin D, a nutrient that in its natural state is scarce in most foods. Vitamin D is known for its importance in bone health, but it can play a role in many functions in our bodies . “

Weight control

Zeratsky said that a diet high in whole grains, beans / legumes (legumes), vegetables, fruits, and nuts is high in fiber, which can keep our gastrointestinal tract healthy and help control blood sugar levels. Dietary fiber also affects our feeling of satiety. “Hunger and calorie control are often kept in check with a higher intake.”

The Pesco-Mediterranean diet contains healthy fats, and fats also play a role in satiety, she added.

“When we are full and satisfied with the fiber, it can lead to a sustainable, healthy, calorie-controlled diet that keeps our weight in check.

“Weight appears to be a factor in many chronic diseases. That means, if this type of food doesn’t move the scales, it’s still a nutritious and healthy diet, ”said Zeratsky.

The Pesco Mediterranean Diet focuses on fish as a source of protein. “Protein is also satiating and can be helpful in controlling hunger and calories,” she said.

Rich in nutrient dense foods

A Pesco-Mediterranean diet is rich in fruits and vegetables, the “most nutritionally dense foods”, full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. They’re also generally low in calories, which will help your overall health, Ehsani said.

Zeratsky said, “In particular, potassium, magnesium, and calcium in some of these foods are key nutrients in controlling blood pressure.”

A Mediterranean-style spread.
A Mediterranean spread with various vegetables, yogurt, cheese and wild rice. A pesco-Mediterranean diet includes these foods with the addition of fish and seafood.
iStock / Getty Images Plus

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Whole Grains Health

Protein Variety and Heart Health Are Linked, Study Finds

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We’ve all found ourselves in the habit of eating the same three things over and over (…and over) again. When life gets busy, falling back on simple dishes that satisfy your tastebuds is the natural thing to do. But if you’re cooking up the same couple proteins on the regular, a new study published in the the journal Hypertension suggests that it may be time to introduce a few new varieties into your breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.

The study pulled existing data from over 12,000 participants who took part in a minimum of two rounds of the China Health and Nutrition Survey. Researchers sought to explore the relationship between hypertension—or high blood pressure—and the variety and quantity of proteins from eight major dietary sources consumed by participants. (Study participants were an average age of 41 years old.)

Researchers measured protein intake by looking at three consecutive days of eating, scoring each round based on the number of protein varieties consumed (including legumes, fish, eggs, whole grains, refined grains, processed and unprocessed red meat, and poultry).

The results? “Among ‘just the right amount’ consumers of protein, those eating the greatest variety of protein had a the lowest blood pressure,” explains John Higgins, MD, a sports cardiologist with McGovern Medical School at the UT Health Science Center at Houston. Notably, those who ate the least and the most amount of protein were at the greatest risk for developing high blood pressure, while those who ate the greatest variety of protein were 66 percent less likely to end up developing hypertension between the rounds of the survey .

“The heart health message is that consuming a balanced diet with proteins from various different sources, rather than focusing on a single source of dietary protein, may help to prevent the development of high blood pressure.” — Xianhui Qin, MD, study author

Although the survey results sound complicated—and, hey, they were—the takeaway is simple: “The heart health message is that consuming a balanced diet with proteins from various different sources, rather than focusing on a single source of dietary protein, may help to prevent the development of high blood pressure,” Xianhui Qin, MD, the study author, said in a press release. In other words: Mix it up! Spin the protein wheel of fortune and try something new.

Related Stories

If you’re not quite sure where to start with upping your protein game, Dr. Higgins recommends looking at your consumption on a daily basis. “The American Heart Association recommends eating no more than about 5.5 ounces of protein daily, about one to two servings, from healthy sources such as plants, seafood, low-fat or fat-free dairy products and some lean meats and poultry,” he says. “The best proteins are lean proteins including beans, soy or tofu, fish, skinless chicken, very lean meat, and low-fat dairy products. Avoid proteins that say ‘hydrogenated’ on label or contain high levels of trans fats or saturated fats. “

Of course, there’s always room in your eating plan for less nutritional proteins, too—just try to incorporate these lean sources when you can, and ask your doctor if you have questions about what dietary habits are right for your particular health status and family history .

A delicious way to eat more varied proteins? This delicious quiche recipe:

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The 10 Best Diet Books in 2022

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Staff, Courtesy of Shalane Flanagan & Elyse Kopecky

The word “diet” has earned itself an undeniably negative reputation, often leading people to think of unsustainable restriction and unhealthy fads. However, if you’re looking to adjust your way of eating, whether you want to feel better, lose weight, or hit a new personal record, there are tons of great diet books out there that can help educate you on ways to improve your nutrition and get you feeling better than ever.

While the diets of the past have focused on restriction, newer ways of eating encouragement consuming more good-for-you foods to crowd out less healthy choices, leaving you feeling satisfied, not deprived. These diet books are also super educational, teaching you why you should eat certain foods, what they can do for your health, and the best ways to make them delicious. To help you on your nutrition journey, we’ve gathered the best diet books and healthy cookbooks available today.

Best Diet Books

    How to Choose a Diet Book

    If you’re looking to switch up your diet, the first thing you should ask yourself is why. What exactly do you want out of a diet?

    Second, consider your lifestyle. Do you need meals that are quick and easy? Do you like to take an hour or two to cook for yourself every night? How often can you grocery shop for fresh ingredients?

    Finally, consider whether you’re looking specifically for a cookbook or one that will provide you education on a particular way of eating without necessarily giving you recipes. While many cookbooks will have some content that discusses the origins of food and their nutritional benefits, these books are unlikely to go as in-depth regarding nutrition as less recipe-focused ones.

    How We Selected

    To find the best diet books among the many options on the market, we researched the most popular books available and considered their content, credibility, design, digestibility, and organization. We then looked at both expert reviews and more than 105,000 customer ratings, written by people who’ve bought these books on Amazon, to settle on the diet books you’ll find below.

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    1

    Best vegetarian

    How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

    Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

    This is a great all-around cookbook, but it’s an especially great buy if you’re trying to lay off meat. This book contains everything from specific meal recipes to instructions for steaming veggies, truly teaching you how to cook from start to finish. There are recipes for every meal, as well as snacks and desserts, and it includes instructions for so many different dishes you could easily cook from only this book for an entire year and not get bored.

    2

    Best for Longevity

    The Blue Zones Kitchen: 100 Recipes to Live to 100

    This cookbook highlights recipes from specific areas across the globe—called blue zones—where people live the longest. While some of their longevity surely comes from other lifestyle factors, there’s no discounting the role diet plays in their long-lasting health and wellbeing. These recipes not only focus on ingredients, but the ways in which foods are prepared and how that relates to their overall nutritional value.

    The goal of the book is to increase longevity and quality of life while creating delicious recipes that you’ll want to eat time and time again.

    3

    Best Mediterranean

    The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook

    The Mediterranean diet is consistently ranked as one of the healthiest diets in the world. It’s full of lean proteins, healthy fats, and tons of vegetables, providing a well-rounded, nutritious way of eating.

    This cookbook not only has 500 great Mediterranean recipes, but it also helps you learn which ingredients you should make staples in your grocery list. It also uses only ingredients that you can easily find at standard grocery stores, which makes the Mediterranean diet more accessible.

    4

    Best for Runners

    run fast eat slow

    You’ve probably heard the phrase “abs are made in the kitchen”—and to some degree, the same holds true for personal records. While nutritious food won’t necessarily knock 30 seconds off your mile time, it can help you fuel your workouts so you get the most out of your training.

    This book was designed by Olympian Shalane Flanagan and is packed with recipes designed to help runners fuel their toughest workouts and recover after. As a bonus, the recipes included in this book just so happen to be delicious, too.

    5

    Best Vegan

    The Complete Plant-Based Cookbook

    When first going vegan, it can be difficult to figure out how to make food that is both delicious and nutritious. This book has 500 recipes ranging from meals to snacks to desserts that use entirely plant-based ingredients. These recipes also offer alternate ingredient options, like eggs and dairy, which is great if you want to add more plant-based recipes into your diet, but aren’t ready to dive headfirst into veganism.

    6

    Best for a full reset

    The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom

    Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

    If you’ve been diet-hopping in hopes of finding a meal plan that can help you commit to a healthier lifestyle and enjoy some weight loss, Whole 30 is a great choice. It has you cut out sugar, grains, dairy, legumes, and some other specific foods for 30 days. The idea behind the diet is that it helps jumpstart weight loss while simultaneously getting you to reassess how you think about what you are eating to reach a place of freedom with your food.

    7

    Best for weight loss

    The Obesity Code – Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss

    If weight loss is your goal, and you have struggled to find lasting success, this book could be a game-changer. It dives into the science of weight loss, helping you understand hormones, insulin resistance, and other reasons for weight gain. The book recommends intermittent fasting and a low-carb diet, and guides you on how to do them correctly, efficiently, and in the long term.

    8th

    Best for Learning about Food

    How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease

    A lot of eating plans focus on what you should eliminate from your diet, but this book places more importance on what you should be adding to your diet and why.

    It discusses foods that are scientifically proven to help you live a longer, healthier life, and the many ways in which food can help prevent disease. It focuses on whole body health—including both mental and physical health—and teaches you to focus on more than just weight and physical appearance when it comes to your food.

    9

    Best for Anti-Dieters

    Not a Diet Book: Take Control. Gain Confidence. ChangeYourLife.

    The rise of anti-diet culture gave inspiration to this book, which helps you improve your relationship with food, tackle weight loss, and debunk fad diets to find a simple and easy way to lose weight and create habits that will keep the pounds from coming back. This book will help you build skills that enable you to live a happier, healthier life without focusing too closely on calories or numbers on a scale.

    10

    Best for fasting

    Complete Guide to Fasting

    Fasting has gained popularity over the last decade and can be a great way to boost your metabolism, clear your mind, and promote weight loss. There are, however, rules you should follow while fasting so that you improve your health rather than endangering it. This book will guide you through intermittent, alternate-day, and extended fasting to ensure you choose the style that will work best for you and do it correctly.


    Before joining Runner’s World as an Editor in 2019, Gabrielle Hondorp spent 6 years in running retail (she has tested top gear from shoes, to watches, to rain jackets which has expanded her expertise—and her closets); she specializes in health and wellness, and is an expert on running gear from head-to-toe.

    This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io

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Eating different kinds of protein protects against hypertension: New study

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Despite all this talk that more Australians are toying with vegetarianism, and despite the endless drum-beating about red meat giving you cancer and a dodgy heart, we continue to have one of the world’s highest levels of meat consumption.

Analysis published in December found Australians eat about 95 kilograms of meat per capita every year. The global average is 35 kilograms.

The article, ‘The Evolution of Urban Australian Meat-Eating Practices’, argues our meat-eating habits are driven by a blocky culture, an association with social status, a perception that plant-based diets are inadequate and lame, and ignorance about cooking legumes and tofu.

On the other hand, the authors point to a survey that found almost 20 per cent of those sampled “identified as meat-reducers”.

Furthermore, the authors say, 87 percent “of the meat reducer segment reported consuming a meat-free dish as their main meal at least once a week”.

They point to another survey that found almost 20 per cent described themselves as “flexitarian”, which is cool.

But it may not translate to more lentils, nuts, whole grains, fish and dairy hitting the dinner table as new favorite sources of protein.

A new study found why we need variety

Chinese researchers found that “eating protein from a greater variety of sources is associated with a lower risk of developing high blood pressure”.

Good to know because blood pressure is literally out of control in Australia.

One in three adults – more than six million Australians – has high blood pressure.

Of those afflicted, only 32 per cent have their hypertension under control. That leaves about four million Australians as ticking time bombs.

In December, in the Medical Journal of Australia, Professor Alta Schutte, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at UNSW Sydney, called for a national taskforce to tackle the issue.

By improving the control of hypertension, the risks of coronary heart disease, dementia and cerebrovascular disease will be substantially reduced.

The Chinese study suggests changing your diet will go some way to solving the problem.

the study

“Nutrition may be an easily accessible and effective measure to fight against hypertension. Along with fat and carbohydrates, protein is one of the three basic macronutrients,” said study author Dr Xianhui Qin, of the National Clinical Research Center for Kidney Disease at Nanfang Hospital, Southern Medical University in Guangzhou, China.

The study authors analyzed health information for nearly 12,200 adults (average age 41), who had taken part in multiple rounds of the China Health and Nutrition Survey from 1997 to 2015.

Over three days in the same week, participants shared what they had eaten.

They were given a protein “variety score” based on the different sources of protein they’d eaten: whole grains, refined grains, processed red meat, unprocessed red meat, poultry, fish, egg and legumes.

One point was given for each source of protein, with a maximum variety score of 8. The researchers then evaluated the association for new onset hypertension in relation to the protein variety score.

New-onset hypertension was defined as blood pressure greater than or equal to 140 mm Hg/90 mm Hg, the use of blood pressure-lowering medicine, or self-reporting that a physician had diagnosed high blood pressure.

The average follow-up time was six years.

The results

More than 35 per cent of the participants developed new-onset high hypertension during the follow-up.

Compared to participants with the lowest variety score for protein intake (1), those with the highest variety score (4 or higher) had a 66 per cent lower risk of developing high blood pressure.

The amount of protein eaten was also a factor. Consumption was divided into five categories, from least to most intake.

The researchers found that “people who ate the least amount of total protein and those who ate most protein had the highest risk for new onset of hypertension”.

The researchers didn’t ask why a variety of proteins was more healthy. But nutritionists, doctors and health writers have banged on about it for years.

Lean red meat is high in quality protein but provides no fiber or healthy fats. Processed meats are high in saturated fats and salt and are the worst.

Fish is high in long-chain fatty acids, which are good for the brain. Lentils and whole grains are high in fibre.

Hand on heart, a bit of each during the week might stop you from carking it in the street. Which is just undignified and unmanly.

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