5 Pescatarian Benefits Every Seafood Lover Can Enjoy
If you’re a sushi aficionado looking for a way to eat spicy tuna rolls every day, you’ll be happy to learn about these pescatarian benefits. Okay, maybe you shouldn’t eat sushi every day (white rice is a high glycemic carb source after all), but still, research shows there are tons of benefits to replacing the red meat in your diet with fish.
What Is a Pescatarian?
A pescatarian diet is a form of vegetarianism that includes animal products like eggs and milk, seafood, and fish. Pescatarians don’t eat red meat or poultry.
Becoming a pescatarian isn’t as restrictive as becoming a vegan or full vegetarian so many people find making the transition easier. I’ve been a pescatarian myself for the past eight years and rarely find it disruptive. Almost every restaurant these days has at least one fish or vegetarian option, so gone are the days of eating dry Caesar salads sans bacon bits.
How Does a Pescetarian Diet Stack Up to Other Diets?
There are a lot of different diets marketed to be the best for your overall health: Paleo, keto, and vegan just to name a few.
How are you supposed to know which one is best?
To be honest there’s no diet that’s going to revolutionize your health and weight-loss unless you’re willing to make some improvements to your eating habits.
You can be a vegetarian and eat nothing but cookies and cheesecake.
You can be Paleo and never touch a vegetable.
Any diet that touts that there’s only one healthy way to eat is probably propped up by a large marketing budget and not much substance.
I’ve been a pescatarian myself for the past eight years and found the transition away from red meat and poultry easy since I never liked these foods. Not everybody needs to be a pescatarian to be healthy. However, there are some compelling reasons to stick to a pescatarian diet from health and sustainability viewpoints.
Here are five of the top pescatarian benefits.
Pescatarian Benefit #1 – Pescatarian Diets are High in Omega 3 Fatty Acids
By eating more fatty fish such as herring or salmon, you’ll increase the amount of omega 3 fatty acids you consume.
There are two types of omega 3s found in fish that help you maintain optimal health: EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid).
Both of these omega 3s play vital roles in your body.
EPA is responsible for reducing inflammation throughout your body and brain. Many of us carry excess inflammation because we eat too many omega 6 fatty acids, which creep into our diets through the consumption of refined vegetable oils.
Although omega 6s are also essential, in excess they cause an inflammatory reaction throughout your body. Scientists believe that historically the ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 in the human diet was about 1:1, but in the modern Western diet, it’s closer to 1:16.
Why do you want to reduce inflammation?
Chronic inflammation is linked to the following diseases:
- Heart disease
- Some kinds of cancer
The other type of omega 3, DHA, has benefits for your retina and brain.
Most of your brain is made up of fat, and the most common fat is DHA. Research shows that regular DHA consumption can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. DHA intake is particularly critical for pregnant mothers. Research shows Children of mothers who consume adequate DHA during pregnancy are more intelligent on average.
Pescatarian Benefit #2 – Pescatarian Diets Improve Your Overall Health
By reducing your intake of meats that are high in saturated fat and replacing them with fish, you can vastly improve your overall health.
Of course, if you’re replacing meat in your diet with sweet foods likes cookies and other desserts, don’t expect the same benefits. By sticking primarily with vegetables, fruits, low glycemic starches, and seafood, you can expect the following improvements in your health:
- Improved cholesterol profile
- Lower risk of heart disease
- Improved symptoms of ADHD in children
- Improved blood pressure
- Reduced inflammation in your body and brain
- Increased endothelial function
- Increased blood flow to the brain
Pescatarian Benefit #3 – Pescatarian Diets are Better for the Environment
Like vegan and vegetarian diets, pescatarian diets are more ecologically sustainable than meat-based diets.
Fish release fewer greenhouse gases than their livestock counterparts like cows and pigs. Also, since fish have shorter lifespans, they require less food over their lives.
This infographic gives an example of how much fodder a cow eats per day compared to a salmon.
Land Animals also requires a vast amount of space, which means trees are cut down to build farms. Not only do livestock produce more gases that contribute to global warming, but by cutting down the forests there are fewer plants to absorb carbon dioxide.
Pescatarian Benefit #4 – High protein
Because a pescatarian diet is dense in fish and includes other high protein sources like milk and eggs, getting your daily amount of protein should never be a challenge assuming you’re eating a balanced diet.
Here is a list of the protein density in a variety of types of seafood and fish.
Pescatarian Benefit #5 – Most Restaurants Offer Pescatarian Options.
One of the biggest advantages of being a pescatarian compared to being a vegetarian or vegan is that it’s much less restrictive. Most restaurants offer a pescatarian friendly option but still don’t accommodate other dietary restrictions such as gluten-free, vegan, or even vegetarian. It can be particularly tricky finding restaurants that fit your diet when travelling.
Ever try to find a veggie burger in a small-town diner?
Ever try to find something without meat or fish in Eastern Asia?
Starting a Pescatarian Diet
If you live somewhere coastal, it should be particularly easy to find seafood options. However, these days even most inland cities sell fish at affordable prices.
Many types of diets can help you lose weight, but at the end of the day, you need to find one that allows you to continue eating your favorite food so that it’s sustainable long-term.
If you’re considering switching to a pescatarian diet, I recommend starting with a trial period of two weeks.
So here’s your homework if you’re on the fence.
Try cutting out meat and poultry from your diet for two weeks.
Just two weeks.
And see how you feel. If it’s not for you, you can default to your old way of eating.
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