Diet and Nutrition

Is the Pescatarian Diet Healthy?

Pescatarian Diet: Is It Healthy?

What is a pescatarian diet?

A pescatarian diet is the consumption of seafood and fish along with vegetarian food, but not chicken, pork, steak, or any other animal meat. Some pescatarians also include eggs and dairy products in their diet. 

The pescatarian diet has been popular for thousands of years mostly in Japan, parts of Asia, and the Mediterranean region. The population in these areas have been heavily dependent on fish as their primary source of protein. A variety of seafood including fish is known to be loaded with fatty acids and dietary proteins, which is why it has been regarded as one of the healthiest food sources in the world. For example, sardines and salmon are packed with nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, amino acids, and vitamin A. Other types of fish and seafood, contain all of these nutrients plus vitamin B and minerals including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and selenium.

It has been said that reducing the consumption of red meat and going for leaner options would actually help reduce the risk of developing heart-related problems. Certain studies also encourage people to include oily fish in their diet at least a few times a week to improve their dietary intake and overall health.

How healthy is the pescatarian diet?

There are many individuals who choose less meat or have a vegetarian type of diet. These diets can vary greatly. Fish and other seafood offers tremendous nutritional benefits. It helps balance out a vegetarian's diet which often lacks in protein. However, if the plan is to incorporate fish two to three times a week, you can include plant-based proteins into other meals, like meatless lasagna, 

  • Anemia due to iron deficiency
  • Protein deficiency due to a lack of amino acids
  • Cravings for refined carbohydrates
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Improper ratio of fatty acids

Importance of Protein

Protein is one of the vital nutrients our body needs. Your body uses protein to build and repair tissues, and to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Protein is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. 

The molecules of proteins are made of individual chains of amino acids. These amino acids are further divided into essential amino acids and non-essential amino acids. The essential amino acids are the ones that our body cannot produce. Hence, they must be sourced from the food that we consume. On the other hand, non-essential amino acids can be synthesized from the essential amino acids, so they are often less of a concerning topic. Fish and other animal products such as beef, dairy items, and poultry, are complete protein food items. 

The Benefits of a Pescatarian Diet

Lowers Inflammation

The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish or seafood are very valuable since they have the ability to fight off inflammation in the body. Omega-3 fatty acids help control inflammation, which is often the main cause of a number of medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, and asthma.

The two types of polyunsaturated fats (omega-3 and omega-6) play a pivotal role in the various functions of the body such as the formation of hormones, cell membranes, responses of the immune system, and many more. However, omega-3 and the omega-6 fatty acids can have opposite effects when it comes to dealing with inflammation. When the level of inflammation can be reduced, there is less of a chance of diseases related to the heart, cognitive decline, and cancer.

The omega-3 fatty acids are known to be present and are the main foundation of the pescatarian diet. Food items rich in omega-3 fats include algae, seafood, and green leaves. Omega-6 fats are usually found in nuts, vegetable oil, and to a certain extent, in animals that eat grains or corn. 

Although most people choose packaged products loaded with omega-6 nowadays, consuming fish and any other sources of omega-3 so that the ratio of these polyunsaturated fats is properly maintained, will lead to a reduction in the inflammation of the body.

Loaded with Omega-3 Fatty Acids

The most important reason to eat fish is that it contains high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Nowadays, there are so many food items that mostly contain omega-6 fats such as vegetable oils and plant foods leading to an imbalance of the polyunsaturated fats in the body. In such cases, eating food items that are loaded with omega-3 fats to balance the ratio in the body.

Apart from controlling inflammation, omega-3s have innumerable health benefits and can improve the mental health of the individual, reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, increase fertility and improve the reproductive health, lower the risk of diabetes, and correct hormonal imbalances.

Improves Heart Health 

To keep the heart healthy and free from inflammation, EPA and DHA are necessary. To fight against any kind of disease or infection, a systemic inflammation in the body is the response of the immune system, which leads to an increase in the production of white blood cells (WBCs) and other substances. Consuming 200 mg to 500 mg of EPA and DHA per day, leads to a reduction of heart-related conditions.A combination of nutrients found in fish and seafood is also known to regulate the heartbeat, leading to normal blood pressure levels and lowering the levels of cholesterol in the body. It would also help control the level of triglycerides and reduce the formation of blood clots, preventing the risk of having a stroke or heart attack.

Helps Fight Depression 

The omega-3s present in fish and seafood are known to maintain a healthy cognition and reduce the risk of developing dementia, ADHD, depression, and anxiety attacks. This would mean that if an individual religiously follows the pescatarian diet, the food acts as a natural remedy against anxiety and depression.

Promotes Healthy Weight Management

Individuals who tend to gain weight and are obese lack omega-3 rich foods in their diet. Certain studies reveal that individuals who tend to consume more plant-based foods in their diet have low BMIs and can control their weight better because their diet has a low amount of saturated fats and calories. 

Key Takeaways

  • The pescatarian diet, which is also called as pesco-vegetarian diet is a form of vegetarian diet that includes fish and other seafood items.
  • The most important reason why fish is beneficial for one's health is that fish contains high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. 
  • The pescatarian diet is a great choice for individuals who want to limit their intake of animal meat.