Pescatarian Diet 101: What are the inherent health advantages of this diet?


Last Updated October 11th, 2019

Who is a pescatarian?

A pescatarian is a person that doesn’t consume meat but instead takes fish. People opt to become a pescatarian in order to enrich their bodies with the essential health benefits that they acquire from fish and seafood. The term pescatarian was derived from a combination of Italian words such as “pesce”, meaning fish and “vegetarian”. This diet is often categorized as a vegetarian diet as it is often referred to as the “pesco vegetarian”.

What do pescatarians eat?

Pescatarian diet is a diet that compromises of a vegetarian diet combined with fish or seafood. The diet is mostly plant based including whole grains, legumes, healthy fats, nuts, and seafood. Seafood has been centered as the major source of protein in this diet. In certain conditions, some pescatarians choose to add dairy and eggs to their diet.

Why should you choose a pescatarian diet?

It helps improve heart health

The consumption of fatty fish is an excellent way to increase omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are monounsaturated fatty acids that play a vital role in brain and body health. Studies have proved that eating fish helps lower blood pressure, reduced abnormal heart rhythms, and as a result, reduce the risk of a heart attack. In addition too, fish the pescatarian diet also consists of primarily plant-based foods.

The consumption of plant-based foods helps reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Coronary heart disease is a condition associated with the narrowing of the arteries and blood vessels that are responsible for supplying blood to the heart. It is also referred to as coronary artery disease. According to studies, a vegetarian diet helps improve blood lipids and has also played a vital role in reversing atherosclerotic plaques (the building up of plaques in your arteries).

Can help improve symptoms associated with cancer

Studies prove that a pescatarian diet may help prevent individuals against colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is also referred to as colon, bowel, or rectal cancer. This particular cancer targets and affects the colon and rectum.

Helps regulate diabetes and inflammation

It has been proven that following a healthy vegetarian diet is a pathway to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and several metabolic syndromes too. Conditions like insulin resistance elevated blood pressure, and obesity is associated with metabolic syndrome. The presence of omega-3 fatty acid in fish helps reduce inflammation. It is natural that plant-based diets contain high levels of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agents. The flavonoid, a plant-based compound has a wide range of anti-inflammatory and antidiabetic properties.

Enhances protein intake

Consume a high protein diet can’t be made possible with just a vegetarian diet. On the other hand, fish and seafood contain a wide range of protein without any extra carbs.

Contains other nutrients too

A pescatarian diet doesn’t just provide you with a healthy plate of proteins and omega-3 fatty acid. They also provide essential nutrients present in seafood. Seafood enriches the body with vitamin B12, selenium, lean protein, phosphorus, niacin, and minerals.

Why is this diet considered eco-friendly?

Some individuals share a passionate life-saving nature that helps them opt for a vegetarian diet. The reason behind them opting for one is because they disagree with the fact that animals have to be killed for human food on a daily basis. People with the gumption towards animal welfare adhere to a pescatarian diet which is way more suitable. Studies have proved that fish lack the tendency to perceive pain and can only undergo psychological stress. Fish lack the neural network which triggers the experience to perceive pain.

Fish, unlike pigs, cattle, sheep, and goats, do not produce greenhouse gases. However, fishing can be a challenge to the water ecosystem. The alteration in the water ecosystem can be a major issue of concern. However, some people portray fish farming as an avid solution to put a stop to diminish in fish stock. It has also been the most sort of solution to solve over-fishing. On the other hand, fish farming can lead to the following environmental concerns which include:

  • Damage to the water ecosystems.
  • The entry of invasive species into the ecosystem.
  • Increase the use of wild fish feeding.
  • May cause overcrowding.
  • May lead to unknown diseases.

The ethical reasons why people choose vegetarian

A human possesses a natural sense of ethics that help them refrain from committing any untoward offense. The ethics that lie behind the fact that people choose to eat green are as follows:

  • They detest the idea of killing an animal for human food.
  • They disagree with factory farms that play a major role in raising livestock. A factory farm is a system that involves the use of highly intensive methods to rear livestock. The livestock like poultry, cattle, or pigs are confined indoors and monitored under strict conditions.
  • In a humanitarian approach, several individuals abstain from flesh as they believe that it is an unjust use of resources of grains when so many people remain hungry in the world.

Foods that are included in this diet

The most important sources of fish that can be used in a pescatarian diet include:

  • Sardines (canned, fresh, or anchovies).
  • Salmon (canned, fresh, or frozen).
  • Fish sticks.
  • Tuna (canned).
  • Shrimp (frozen).
  • Trout and herring (frozen).
  • Catfish and Pollock (fresh)
  • Clams, scallops, and shrimps (fresh shellfish).

Vegetables and fruits included in a pescatarian diet:

  • Different variety of vegetables.
  • Grain products.
  • Buckwheat and quinoa (gluten-free pseudo-grains).
  • Whole grains
  • Cereals
  • Pinto and kidney beans (legumes)
  • Tofu and hummus (legume products)
  • Nut butter and nuts (provide abundant sources of protein).
  • Hemp seeds, chia, and flaxseeds (protein-rich seeds).
  • Eggs and dairy can be included for those following a lacto-ovo-vegetarian routine. A lacto-ovo-vegetarian is a person who consumes vegetarian along with dairy and eggs.

Second thoughts on a pescatarian diet

The most persisting globe issue that has posed a threat to marine fish is the presence of heavy metals and pollutants. The presence of metals and pollutants exposes the consumer to a higher risk of contamination. Another fact to ponder on is the abundant presence of mercury both in the water and the air too. With this being the scenario, all fish contain mercury. As explained by the food and drug administration (FDA) the mercury present in the fish pose no harm or risk. However, it is also essential that pregnant women, lactating mothers, and young children avoid eating specific fish such as tilefish, mackerel, shark, and swordfish.

As it is a vegetarian centered diet it may lead to overeating of carbs. This rare case scenario happens when the person adhering to the pescatarian diet consumes excessive amounts of processed grains. Another factor that could be taken into consideration is that continuous consumption of an omnivorous diet can be difficult. Most of the recipes drafted have an essence of meat and poultry.

This may lead to a mind-boggling situation as to what should you cook? Which recipe should I do? Since it excludes meat and poultry there are high chances that you may miss out on the essential nutrients present in them. Iron, vitamin B12, and vitamin D are some of the nutrients that can be deficient in a pescatarian diet. This could be because vitamin B12 is abundantly available in meat and poultry. This diet can lead to vitamin B12 deficiency. Studies have proved that a large quantity of fish contains little amounts of vitamin B12.

Important pescatarian diet guidelines

Anything new in the diet world may send you into a state of awe and dilemma. But you needn’t be nervous about starting your pescatarian diet if you can adhere to the below-mentioned guidelines:

  • Try to follow a healthy cooking method: Care should be taken while preparing the fish. Always try to grill or boil the fish in order to avoid adding more fat to your diet regime. It is advisable to limit the consumption of processed and fried foods which can help control the intake of calories or fats.
  • Check the mercury level of the fish you plan to cook: Fish is a well-known source of mercury. Therefore, care should be taken while purchasing seafood as you could end up consuming many toxins. It would be advisable to cross check with the chart published by the food and drug administration (FDA). This chart helps categorize fish into three main categories such as best choices, good choices, and fish to avoid.
  • Always opt for an earth-friendly fish: If you feel that you would like to contribute your part to keep the environment healthy then it is high time you keep a watch. Conditions like overfishing and wild fish feeding may be of great concern as it can alter the ecosystems.
  • Add more vitamin B12 vegetables and fish: Vegetables, in general, lack these essential micronutrients, while meat products contain them in abundance. It is, therefore, necessary that fish rich in vitamin B12 should be added along with vegetables. This helps you balance the intake of vitamin B12 and eliminate the risk of developing vitamin B12 deficiency.
  • Opt for budget-friendly foods: The major drawback that can stop you from taking up a pescatarian diet is its cost. This diet is expensive and can’t be affordable to all walks of life. However, a pescatarian diet can be made possible by purchasing basic cost friendly foods that are mandatory to maintain the diet. An economical way to adhere to this diet would be to buy frozen foods which are much cheaper when compared to fresh foods.
  • Don’t forget your grains: Pescatarian diet is not a diet that only emphasis on the intake of fish and vegetables but also sends a message to add grains in your daily intake. Grains have a fair share in providing the necessary dietary fibers and other essential nutrients. Care should be taken not to limit your consumption of grains to just rice but make sure to get all the other grains such as quinoa, barley, etc on your diet chart too.
  • Fresh vegetables and fruits: Nothing can beat the nutrients present in fresh vegetables and fruits. An appetizing plate of vegetable and fruits can be considered as one of the best medicines that can help you stay hale and healthy.

A pescatarian diet is one of the healthiest diets that doesn’t just provide the essential nutrients but also has an essence of environmental benefits too. In addition, a standard vegetarian diet, the presence of fish in a pescatarian diet makes it even more nutritious and a hub for a protein source. However, it is always safe to check the mercury level in your fish before consuming it, in order to avoid any untoward outcomes. On the whole, an array of vegetables and fruits with a combination of seafood is a healthy diet choice to make.


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