Planning to switch from a non-vegetarian to a
vegetarian diet and not feeling motivated enough? Here is some news that
could help you take the decision. A
study published in the Nutrition Journal indicates that restricting meat, fish
and poultry can help to improve one's mood.
Fish contains long-chain n-3 fatty acids,
eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which have been shown to
have mood-protecting effects in some studies. On the other hand, meat contains
the long-chain omega-6 (n-6) fatty acid, arachidonic acid. Diets low in fish
but high in meat have been associated with depressive symptoms. Vegetarian
diets lack both types of fatty acids.
A study was
conducted to check the effect of vegetarian and non-vegetarian diet on mood. Thirty-nine individuals
who normally consumed meat and/or poultry at least once a day were included in
the study. These individuals were divided into 3 groups: The first group
referred to as the omnivore group, was allowed to continue eating meat and fish
once a day. The second group was asked to eat fish at least 3 or 4 times per
week but avoid meat and poultry. The third group was asked to follow a
The dietary intake and mood changes were estimated
using questionnaires. The study was conducted over a period of 2 weeks.
During this period, the dietary consumption of long
chain fatty acids fell to negligible levels in the vegetarian group. The
dietary EPA/DHA increased significantly in participants consuming only fish.
The fatty acid intake in the omnivorous group remained unchanged.
significantly in those consuming only vegetarian food as compared to fish or
fish and meat.
The results of the study also indicated that people eating vegetarian food may
be able to deal with stress better than those eating non-vegetarian food.
Vegetarian diet not only avoids the long chain fatty
acids, it is also rich in antioxidants that could have a positive effect on
The study was however conducted on a small group of
people and did have its limitations. The authors suggest further studies in
this regard to establish the findings of this study.
1. Beezhold BL, Johnston CS. Restriction of meat, fish, and poultry in
omnivores improves mood: a pilot randomized controlled trial. Nutrition Journal
2012, 11:9 doi:10.1186/1475-2891-11-9