Some people choose to follow a pescatarian diet for health or moral reasons, but whatever your reasoning, it’s important to understand the health benefits and potential risks.
What is a Pescatarian?
A pescatarian is defined as a vegetarian who also adds seafood and other fish to their diet, whereas a traditional vegetarian diet eliminates meat products altogether. Some people choose to follow a pescatarian diet because of certain health concerns, since this type of daily intake can be very good for your overall health, and the elimination of red meat can lower cholesterol levels. Other people may become a pescatarian due to their concern over the environment, considering the huge impact that livestock production has on the atmosphere and global warming. Finally, there are those who have ethical concerns with the treatment of chickens, cows, and pigs, but less of a problem when it comes to farm-raised fish.
Pescatarian Health Benefits
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Seafood is notoriously high in omega-3 fatty acids, which is good news for those who want to boost heart health, as these fats can reduce overall cholesterol levels and lower your risk of heart disease.
Omega-3 fatty acids have also been linked to lowering chronic inflammation in neural pathways and a reduction in plaque deposition, which could help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
Mood and Depression
Although the exact chemical pathways aren’t completely clear, studies have found that following a pescatarian diet can help with managing hormonal levels and controlling mood.
What Do Pescatarians Eat?
Similar to vegetarians, the majority of their diet will consist of the following:
The major difference, as mentioned, is that pescatarians will also eat the following:
Pescatarians don’t eat pork, lamb, wild game, chicken, beef or turkey.
Drawbacks to a Pescatarian Diet
While there are many benefits to following this type of diet, there are also some potential drawbacks, specifically when it comes to the risk of heavy metal toxicity, and potential dangers for pregnant women. When eating large amounts of seafood as one of your primary sources of protein, it is important to consider the level of mercury in that seafood. Consuming too much mercury can lead to severe side effects and even death. Avoid eating an excess of seafood that is high in mercury, including shark, swordfish, and king mackerel.
The price of fresh fish is often higher than other sources of protein, so that can also be a prohibitive factor for some people. Ensuring that you get all of your daily nutrients is the biggest challenge when eliminating certain protein and mineral sources from your diet.