What Is A Pescatarian Diet?
A pescatarian diet is a vegetarian diet that incorporates fish and seafood as the only source of meat. Pescatarians forego meat and poultry but eat fish. People follow a pescatarian diet for health, environmental, ethical, or taste reasons. The diet is largely plant-based with the main animal protein being fish shrimp and other seafood. Adding fish and its products to a vegetarian diet enhances the health benefits of vegetarians.
Pescatarians eat eggs, fish and seafood, vegetables, fruits, dairy, seeds, nuts and nut butter, legumes and their products, whole grain, and grain products.
Health Benefits of a Pescatarian Diet
Adding seafood to a vegetarian diet can provide beneficial nutrients such as Omega-3's, zinc, calcium, selenium, manganese and vitamin B12. Seafood is as well an excellent source of lean proteins.
The pescatarian diet enhances heart health. Consumption of fatty fish offers long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids which are essential for a healthy heart. People who incorporate more fish in their diet tend to have fewer deadly heart attacks, lower blood pressure, and a lower risk of abnormal heart rhythms compared to those who never incorporate fish in their diet. Plant foods in the pescatarian diet such as vegetables reduce the risk of coronary heart diseases. A pescatarian diet also improves blood lipids.
A pescatarian diet can reverse atherosclerotic plaques when combined with exercise and stress management. When plaque builds up in arteries it leads to atherosclerosis, characterized by hardening and narrowing of arteries, hampering blood flow. The pescatarian diet also aids in the prevention of colorectal cancers. Studies show that pescatarians have a stronger protective effect against these types of cancers.
Adhering to a plant-based diet can minimize metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. Metabolic syndrome combines conditions such as high blood pressure, obesity, and insulin resistance. Research shows that pescatarians and people shifting their diet towards more plant-based direction have a lower risk of obesity. Flavonoids are antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents having anti-diabetic properties found in plant-based diets. Inflammation is reduced by the Omega-3s in fatty fish.
Some people follow a pescatarian diet for environmental reasons. These people argue that animal farming can cause harm to the environment because of the emission of greenhouse gases; methane gas from ruminants and ammonia from pigs. These gases lead to global warming. Large scale agriculture and grazing lead to deforestation worsening the greenhouse issue.
Disadvantages of a Pescatarian Diet
Pollutants and heavy metal in marine fish cause contamination of water bodies. Fish can be a source of mercury, a health hazard to nursing mothers’ pregnant women and young children. Fish high in mercury levels include swordfish, tilefish, and shark. These fish should be avoided. Those with low levels of mercury such as salmon and canned light tuna should be consumed in plenty.
Fish farming can also, introduce invasive species, cause overcrowding, damage water ecosystems, cause diseases and use wild fish for feed.
The pescatarian diet may be of great health benefits if the only one avoids high mercury level fish. However, it may not be justifiable as people may think.