The pescatarian diet, also known as the pesco-vegetarian or partial vegetarian diet, is similar to vegetarianism in that it excludes eating meat and poultry, but pescatarians include fish and other seafood into their diet. A typical pescatarian diet contains fruits, vegetables, dairy products such as eggs and milk, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. Not only do pescatarians avoid simply meat and poultry, but they also avoid consuming any products made from meat and poultry such as gelatin, broths and lard. Pescatarians credit fish as a good source of protein and, unlike red meat, it’s low in saturated fats and often rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
Here’s some reasons why a pescetarian diet may be better for your health:
- Lowered Risk of Heart Disease: Studies show that eating less red meat, or none at all, lowers your chances of getting heart disease. EPA and DHA are two omega-3 fatty acids that are essential for controlling inflammation and promoting heart health. Studies show that daily consumption of EPA and DHA may help reduce heart disease risk and deaths from heart disease, sometimes just as effectively as prescription medications like statins. The combination of nutrients found in seafood also helps regulate heartbeats.
- Lowered Risk of Blood Pressure: Studies show that the heart health benefits of a plant-based diet include improved blood lipids and lower blood pressure. Eating fish, especially fatty fish, provides increased long chain omega-3 fatty acid intake, which are integral for healthy living. People who eat fish have lower blood pressure, a lower risk of abnormal heart rhythms, and fewer fatal heart attacks than those who do not include fish in their diet.
- Reduce Diabetes: Metabolic syndrome includes conditions such as insulin resistance, and obesity. There is also evidence that omega-3s present in fatty fish may reduce inflammation, though this evidence comes from trials of supplements. Plant-based diets are high in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agents, such as flavonoids. These are natural compounds present in plants. Flavonoids have a range of anti-inflammatory and antidiabetic properties.
- Lower BMI: Your BMI (Body Mass Index) is an indirect method of calculating a person’s body fat category. This value is calculated using your height and weight and can be a starting point for understanding the way your body fat may impact your overall health. Studies have also shown that following a vegan or vegetarian-based diet (including a pescatarian diet) is associated with lower BMI because of the increased vitamins and minerals found more readily in the pescatarian diet.
- Higher Nutritional Value: Pescatarian diets that contain fish, low-fat dairy foods, eggs and plant-based foods are often higher in nutritional quality than non-vegetarian diets that contain meat. This suggests that pescatarian dieters have high calcium intakes and generally consume lots of fruits and vegetables, while also consuming lower quantities of unhealthy fats and sodium, resulting in diets that are high in nutrition.
- May Help Prevent Against Cancer: Research shows that consuming more fish and seafood high in omega-3s benefits the immune system and helps fight cancer by suppressing inflammation. While vegetarian diets are linked to a lower incidence of certain cancers (like colon cancer), pescetarianism is actually associated with an even lower risk compared to vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike, according to some studies. Several studies also suggest that consuming plenty of omega-3 fatty acids can help those who have already been diagnosed with cancer by stalling tumor growth.
- Fights Cognitive Decline: Omega-3s, and DHA specifically, are essential for the proper development of the brain and preservation of cognitive function as we get older. Many studies have found that low omega-3 levels in the elderly are associated with multiple markers of impaired brain function, including dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Also, lower levels of omega-3s during pregnancy are even associated with children having lower memory test scores and learning difficulties.
- Boosts Mood: The omega-3s from fish and seafood work to fight oxidative stress that impairs proper brain functioning. As a result, the pescatarian diet is associated with better mental health and a lower risk for dementia, depression, anxiety and ADHD. Following a pescatarian diet could be a natural remedy for anxiety, may help treat the symptoms of ADHD, and also ward off symptoms of depression.
- Supports Weight Loss: The pescatarian diet relies on eating foods rich in healthy nutrients. Additionally, these healthy proteins and fats are crucial for feeling full, and many of the nutrients found in fish can help reduce cravings as well. The combination of fish, paired with a high intake of fruits, vegetables, quality proteins, healthy fats, seeds, nuts, fiber and phytochemicals, can help boost metabolism and make you lose weight at a rapid rate.
- Good for the Environment: Some people follow a pescatarian diet because of the positive impact on the environment. There are many environmental repercussions in eating meat, including increasing carbon emissions that fuel global warming. This is because raising and processing meat takes up a great amount of land, resources, and energy, while also contributing to dangerous emissions. By reducing our dependence on meat and making sustainable fish choices, we may be able to create a healthier planet.