A quality diet is an essential component of a healthy life, which is leading many people to switch to vegetarianism. However, there isn’t just one type of vegetarianism out there. Pescetarianism, also known as pesco-vegetarianism, is a recent modification to the traditional vegetarian diet, becoming increasingly popular.
In this article we answer the question “What is a pescatarian?”, describe what they eat, look at this particular diet’s effects on your health, and more!
What is a Pescatarian?
A pescatarian is someone who eats plant-based foods but also adds seafood (especially fish), dairy products, and eggs, to their diet. Interestingly, they skip meat and poultry from their diet.
There can be multiple reasons why they tend to eat seafood, but no, beef, pork, etc:
What Can Pescatarians Eat?
The pescetarian and the regular vegetarian diets have a lot in common. For instance, pescetarians eat everything typical vegetarians eat but add fish and other seafood to satisfy their taste buds.
Pescetarians eat fruits, vegetables, legumes, lentils, peas, nuts, beans, seeds, and seafood like fish and crabs. In addition to that, they consume dairy products such as milk, yogurt, cheese, etc. Eggs are also an important part of their diet.
However, seafood is where they put a stop to their meat intake. They refuse to eat any other meat such as beef, pork, chicken, etc.
We all need quality nutrients in the right amount from our diet, no matter what type of vegetarianism we follow. The pescetarian diet is also full of different types of nutrients.
Let us discuss those nutrients in detail and where pescetarians get them from.
Protein is among the most important abundant nutrients found in a pescetarian diet, thanks to the inclusion of fish and other seafood rich in quality protein.
Protein is a highly important nutrient for the human body and performs many necessary functions to sustain our existence.
It is found everywhere in our body, hair, skin, nails, muscles, bones, etc. There are around 10,000 different types of protein working in our body continuously.
Enzymes, essentially proteins, are the catalyst in the natural chemical reactions of our body. So, without protein, our body will stop its crucial chemical processes that keep us alive.
Protein Health Benefits
There are multiple health benefits of protein, as they are crucial to preventing multiple diseases. Let us discuss some of those diseases and see how protein intake prevents them.
Eating healthy protein reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases and improves your heart health significantly.
Skipping red meat and getting your protein from healthy sources such as nuts and fish reduces cardiovascular risks by replacing saturated fats with unsaturated ones, lowering LDL cholesterol. In addition to that, plant-based protein contains minimal cholesterol.
Eating red meat is also associated with a higher risk of diabetes. On the other hand, having healthy protein sources such as nuts, beans, and fish lowers risk of diabetes. Multiple research studies have established the link between unhealthy protein sources and diabetes.
For instance, a study involving 289,000 men and women revealed that those who consumed red meat frequently had 1.5 times more chances of developing type 2 diabetes. In addition to that, red meat eaters also have a greater risk of being obese, contributing to developing diabetes.
Similarly, cancer risk is associated with your protein source, not the amount that you consume. Again, pescetarians have a lower risk of developing deadly cancers because of their healthy protein sources. For instance,a research suggested that those who consumed their protein from nuts and legumes instead of red meat were less likely to develop cancer.
Pescetarians can get their protein from various healthy sources. These include fish such as salmon, cod, tuna, and trout; each has 54 grams of protein in 3 ounces.
Similarly, milk and other dairy products are also excellent protein sources.
A cup of milk has 8g of protein, an ounce of cheese has 7g of protein. However, cottage cheese has almost double the amount of regular cheese. A cup of yogurt packs 11g of it. Eggs also provide an excellent protein punch, with one having 6g of it.
Vitamin B-12 is an essential nutrient, meaning we cannot produce it and have to get it from somewhere. It is critical for proper brain, cognitive, and nervous system functioning. It plays a critical role in forming DNA & red blood cells.
Vitamin B12 combines with different proteins to perform several functions inside our bodies. It is unbound in the stomach, from where it combines with a protein called intrinsic factor and gets absorbed in the small intestine.
Vitamin B12 is crucial for preventing certain diseases. For instance, the breakdown of the homocysteine protein is important to avoid its build-up in our bodies, associated with heart disease and stroke risks.
Similarly, high homocysteine levels are also associated with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. So, when vitamin B12 breaks homocysteine down, it brings down the risks of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.
Pescatarian Vitamin B-12 Sources
Pescetarians are lucky to have a rich source of vitamin B12 in fish and shellfish, which contains. 100g of fish contains 2.8 mg of vitamin B12. This is slightly higher than the recommended daily intake of 2.4 mcg for normal people and equivalent to the recommended daily intake for pregnant and lactating women.
Similarly, pescetarians can fill up their vitamin B12 stores by eating eggs, dairy products, nutritional yeast, cereals, and enriched soymilk.
Zinc is another nutrient that our body doesn’t produce, so getting it from your food becomes imperative, given its pivotal role in our bodies. Without it, 300 enzymes cannot function that run processes like metabolism and nerve function.
Similarly, its presence is crucial for the smooth functioning and development of immune cells. It is also responsible for maintaining skin health, protein, and DNA synthesis. Cell growth and division also cannot occur without zinc.
In addition to that, your ability to taste and smell depends on your body’s amount of zinc. If you have a zinc deficiency, you’ll have difficulty tasting and smelling things.
Zinc has multiple benefits for human health. For instance, it is used to heal different wounds in hospitals. It supports collagen synthesis, which promotes quick healing. On the other hand, zinc deficiency can slow down wound healing and exacerbate the problem.
By improving your immune response, zinc reduces oxidative stress and prevents your body from several infections. There is also some evidence to suggest that zinc may help treat acne. Many people use topical zinc treatment and see an improvement in their breakouts.
Pescatarian Zinc Sources
Pescetarians have multiple sources to get their required zinc amounts. Fish like flounder, salmon, and sardines top the list for them. Similarly, shellfish such as crab, lobster and oysters also have decent amounts of zinc.
In addition to that, legumes such as black beans, lentils, and chickpea are also packed with zinc. If you want to try more options, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and dairy productscan also serve you well.
Is it Healthy to be a Pescatarian? Science-backed Evidence
Pesco-vegetarianism comes with multiple health benefits that are backed by solid science. Let’s discuss them and see how being a pescetarian can transform your health.
Improves Heart Health
Red meat consumption is risky for your heart health. Therefore, you need to look for healthier alternatives that fulfill your nutritional needs and keep your heart pumping smoothly. In this regard, EPA & DHA are the two Omega-3 fatty acids that can help reduce inflammation and improve your heart health.
Lowers Blood Pressure
Besides improving your heart health, a pescetarian diet also boosts your chances against high blood pressure. The pescetarian diet includes foods that improve blood lipids and control your blood pressure.
The fatty acids coming from fish are crucial in this regard, as it lowers blood pressure than those who do not eat fish.
Maintains a Healthy BMI
Body Mass Index (BMI) tells you whether you have maintained a healthy weight or not. While being underweight isn’t ideal, being overweight is what most suffer from.
Fights against Cancer
Interestingly, a pescetarian diet can also prevent certain cancers. When you consume a diet rich in fish and other seafood, you boost your immune system and suppress inflammation. As a result, the risks of having cancer are reduced significantly.
Generally, vegetarian diets lower the risk of cancers such as colon cancers. However, adding seafood to the traditional vegetarian diet and switching to pescetarianism can further reduce the risk.
In addition to preventing cancer in the first place, a pescetarian diet filled with Omega-3 fatty acids can also limit the growth of tumors in those who already have some cancer.
Improves Brain Functioning
Cognitive decline is a serious issue faced by aging members of our society. Luckily, they have an effective solution in the form of pescetarianism because it promotes healthy brain functioning. Omega-3 found in seafood and other pescetarian food items positively impacts our cognition and strengthens it even when we get older.
Conversely, having a deficiency of Omega-3 in your diet can lead to multiple mental health and cognitive issues such as Alzheimer’s disease, limited brain functioning, etc.
Similarly, pregnant women who do not consume enough Omega-3 in their diet give birth to children who suffer from learning difficulties and have memory issues.
Packed with Nutrition
Pescetarian diets also provide high nutritional value compared to non-vegetarian diets involving meat.
Pescetarians consume quality foods such as fish, dairy, eggs, and plant-based products that pack ample nutrition without any negatives.
Moreover, pescetarians also consume adequate calcium from fruits and vegetables while restricting the intake of bad fats and sodium.
Pescatarian Pros & Cons
Pescetarianism undoubtedly has multiple advantages that make it a suitable dietary choice for many.
By giving up on beef, pork, and some other meat products, pescetarians also help limit their carbon footprintsignificantly. The livestock industry takes a massive toll on our resources, so skipping beef helps the ecology.
The FDA has advised pregnant women, soon-to-be pregnant women, and children to avoid certain fish such as sharks, swordfish, and tilefish because of the mercury risk. However, low-mercury fish are available, such as salmon, shrimp, catfish, etc.
A vegetarian diet doesn’t automatically transform your health unless you eat the right foods. For instance, instead of consuming fish, nuts, grains, and other healthy items, you can ruin your health by eating vegetarian processed foods, sodas, etc. So, understanding what you eat is more important than just pasting a label of pescetarianism on your diet.
While you give up on some meats such as beef, you still consume animals, which is unethical. While you can feel better about eating wild fish instead of factory-farmed fish, pescetarianism still isn’t an ideal option for ethical consumption.
What is a Pescetarian Meal Plan?
Most people wrongly assume that pescatarians can’t have delicious meals just because they lack beef and pork from their diet. However, it is wrong, as you can make tons of delicious pescetarian cuisines.
Here, we will give you a delicious sample meal plan for one day, but you can find many others on the internet.
What’s better than starting your day with a dose of good fats? Split an avocado in two and stuff it with a half-fried egg.
Spanish egg muffins are the perfect option if you don’t feel like making breakfast every day. They will last you the whole week and provide a nutritious boost every morning. All you need is 6 eggs, paprika, garlic and tomatoes.
Take some blueberries, lemons, sugar, milk, eggs, and flour to make crispy blueberry & lemon muffins.
Everyone loves Mac n Cheese, so here it is. You can also add cauliflower and spinach to boost its nutritional value, ensuring you don’t feel till dinnertime.
Mackerel and eggs are a heavenly combination. Half-fried eggs with a running consistency add an excellent dressing on an already nutritious mackerel.
Leaving chickpeas out of your lunch options will be a mistake. They’re an excellent source of protein and can be used for a long time. Boil them and add some tomatoes and feta to make a delicious chickpea salad.
Add a touch of spice to your night through this vegan red lentil curry. Boil some red lentils, add your favorite herbs and spices to it, and enjoy with a flour tortilla.
Whenever you feel ill, having a simple tomato soup can be enough. This roasted tomato soup is good for every situation and can be consumed the next day as lunch too. Get some tomatoes, onions, garlic with oregano and black pepper. Mix them all up at medium heat and you have your nutritious soup ready!
While pasta isn’t the healthiest thing you can eat, enjoying it once in a while isn’t problematic. Tuna pesto pasta can be prepared without much effort using your favorite spices, herbs, and veggies.
Those who want to enjoy some protein boost, chocolate peanut butter balls are amazing. Within just 10 minutes, you can make protein balls that you can enjoy the whole week.
Just cook some eggs if you feel lazy and want something nutritious. Boil them, half-fry them, fry them fully, or add your own variations, as the possibilities with egg snacks are endless.
Mix up bananas, blueberries, and your favorite nuts or seeds to create a yummy and quick snack. You can add almond butter or peanut butter to make it even better.
Surely, these aren’t the only pescatarian recipes on the planet. The internet has thousands of recipes and you can find some here.
Everybody desires great health but not everyone has it. A healthy diet is a prerequisite to staying fit, and pescetarianism can come to your rescue if you want to switch to a healthy lifestyle.
With thousands of nutritious pescetarian recipes at your hand, you can begin your pescetarian journey today with our detailed guide.