With so many different diets it is difficult to find what sets one apart from the rest. One such diet is the Pescatarian diet, which is often the focus of individuals who are trying to quit eating red meat and up their vegetable intake. This is a good diet to eat more fruits and vegetables without completely giving up animal protein.
Fish meat is a healthier option than red and processed meat, it has less saturated fat and calories. The association between red, processed meats and health problems such as high blood cholesterol and constipation is worth noting.
What is a Pescatarian Diet?
A pescatarian (or pesco-vegetarian) diet is essentially a vegetarian with fish (and other seafood) added. Like most plant-based diets, the pescatarian diet offers health benefits related to high fiber and healthy fat intake. Some research even suggests that a pescatarian diet might be healthier than being completely vegetarian (1).
What is allowed in a pescatarian diet may vary from person to person. For the most part, this diet includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and many types of nuts. Animal products such as milk, cheese, and eggs usually allowed- although some choose to avoid these too. Individuals who eat fish but restrict every other animal product may call themselves pesco-vegans (a vegan diet with fish added).
Like most plant-based diets, the pescatarian diet is rich in fiber (soluble and insoluble) which helps regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Fiber also helps ease bowel movements, maintain a healthy gut, and lower risk for colorectal cancer.
Plant foods provide high levels of antioxidants which counteract oxidative stress and maintain healthy blood vessels. Omega-3 fatty acids from fish support anti-inflammatory effects and promote brain function.
Is it Better than Full Vegetarian?
According to Harvard Health professionals, 2015, California-based study suggests that pescatarian diets are more preventive to developing colorectal cancer than vegetarian diets. This is very significant as colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in both men and women in the U.S. (2).
The study concluded that vegetarian diets lower the risk of colorectal cancer by 22% and pescatarian by 48% when compared to non-vegetarian diets (1). It is thought that this difference is due to omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D found in fish.
Concerns of Eating Fish
Common nutritional concern related to eating fish is the presence of mercury and other chemicals. Our recommendation is to eat lower in the food chain to avoid consuming too much mercury or other toxins. This is because carnivorous fish consume toxins of other fish, this means that they collect more toxins.
- “Eating Vegetarian, Adding Fish May Lower Risk of Colon Cancers.” News, 22 June 2018, www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hsph-in-the-news/eating-vegetarian-adding-fish-may-lower-risk-of-colon-cancers/.
- “Key Statistics for Colorectal Cancer.” American Cancer Society, www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer/about/key-statistics.html.