Fish instead of meat: the pescetarian diet is healthy, but only if you do it right
If you eat a healthier diet but don’t want to give up animal products, a pescetarian diet might be right for you. Meat is no longer served here, but fish is still allowed; this has many advantages, provided it is done well.
Fish sticks every day: that’s not what pescetarian nutrition means. Pescetarianism means not eating meat at all, but eating fish about twice a week.
The menu is complemented by vegetarian food: dairy products, eggs, whole grain products, nuts and mushrooms. And of course: lots of fresh vegetables and fruits.
This is how Prof. Werner Mang, specialist in ENT and plastic surgery and medical director of the Bodenseeklinik in Lindau, feeds. He is convinced: “I prefer fish to Botox. Because fish provides us with the nutrients that act against wrinkles and other symptoms of skin aging from within.”
Fish Pro: Omega-3 Fatty Acids
In fact, there are many substances in fish that our bodies can use well. For example, trace elements such as zinc and iodine, but also vitamin B12 and vitamin D. Fish also contains easily digestible protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
“In recent years, the plant-based vegetarian diet, which is combined with omega-3 fatty acids, has become the most favorable form of nutrition for humans,” agrees Matthias Riedl, nutritionist and medical director of Medicum Hamburg.
Eating a purely plant-based diet has great advantages for the environment, says the nutritionist. But: To be well supplied with all important nutrients, people also need animal products.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be fish or meat, says Riedl. Eggs, dairy products, nuts, and mushrooms also provide valuable ingredients like vitamin B12.
Pay attention to the origin and seal
What should be looked for in a pescetarian diet, for example, in the choice of fish? Werner Mang has dealt with this question for a book (“Eat yourself!”). He advises fish that comes from the North Sea, local aquaculture or local inland waters.
Freshwater fish include perch, trout, catfish, and walleye. Its tender fish meat is easy to digest and is suitable for both diets and a low-salt diet. Good to know: 200 grams of trout fillet covers the daily requirement of omega-3 fatty acids for an adult.
From Mang’s point of view, the recommended sea fish are cod or cod, plaice or sea bass. In view of the overfishing of the seas and heavy metal pollution, it is particularly important to pay attention to the origin of the fish.
So you can buy the fish from your trusted distributor or get frozen products with a seal. According to Stiftung Warentest, there is the blue MSC label for wild fish and the turquoise ASC label for farmed fish. Organic aquaculture products can be recognized by the Naturland label or the EU green organic label.
Sliced almonds instead of breadcrumbs
However, fans of fish sticks or fried fish have to be brave on one point: if you are on a pescetarian diet, it is best to avoid breading. Because it provides unnecessary extra calories, warns Mang. And there is hardly any fiber, which is good for digestion. Instead, he advises browning the fish in olive oil with a bit of parsley and slivered almonds.
Canned fish and smoked fish, on the other hand, are fine from Mang and Riedl’s point of view. However, they should only be consumed in moderation. Because smoked fish contains a lot of salt, and canned fish is often preserved in oil. Tip: Soak both before eating.
By the way: In addition to fish, shellfish and seaweed can also be part of a pescetarian diet. They also contain valuable minerals, vitamins, proteins and fatty acids. If you wish, you can also add seafood such as shrimp, mussels, lobster or crabs to the menu.
Are fish and algae oils an alternative?
Good to know: “If you don’t like algae or fish, but don’t want to do without the valuable ingredients, you can take fish oil or algae oil in tablet form,” says nutritionist Riedl.
They did not provide the valuable dietary fiber and protein of fish. However, the body can process omega-3 fatty acids from algae or fish oil better than those from flaxseed or rapeseed oil.
What applies to all dietary supplements also applies here: you should not overdose. Therefore, you should clarify in advance with your family doctor if there are any deficiencies.
Experts point out that the pescetarian diet can also help counter industrial farming. Eating high-quality fish from a sustainable source is only possible for a fraction of the world’s population. But if you can afford it and want to, the pescetarian diet is recommended.