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Are Pescatarian Diets Healthy?


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Are Pescatarian Diets Healthy?

What does it mean to be a pescatarian? How safe is it to keep up with that dietary pattern? Different kinds of dietary patterns have evolved whereby people stick to a particular set of food and abandon some. The number of ‘tarians’ out there is becoming too numerous to count. A pescatarian is one of those kinds of people.

This article gives an insight into what a pescatarian diet is all about and how nutritious are those diets.

Who is a pescatarian?

The root words are derived from ‘pecse’ an Italian word that means fish and ‘vegetarian’, a dietary pattern involving only plant-based foods. A pescatarian is a person who follows a dietary plan which includes fish and other kinds of seafood plus plant-based foods. So basically, if you’re thinking of slashing out intake of meat; beef, turkey, chicken, pork from your meals, you may want to give this a try.

However, different plant-based foods are available for your dishes ranging from whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds. You also get to eat a variety of seafood from the massive water bodies including prawns, salmons, oysters, and fish.

Eggs and dairy products like cheese, milk, and butter are optional on the list. It is up to you whether you include them in your diet or not. You may decide to keep them off or alternate them weekly. Unless you’re obsessed with meat and steaks, this dietary plan is lovable and easy to get along with.

Similar to the pescatarian diet is the Mediterranean diet. The major differences between them are just that meat is allowed in moderation in the latter but packaged food is supposed to be avoided. Apart from these two differences the two are similar in their inclusion of grains, seafood, fruits and vegetables, and other non-meat meals.

Why become a pescatarian?

There are different reasons why people choose to stick to pescatarian diets.

●  Sustainability:

A great risk of extinction is already poised on some animals making it wrong to kill them. However, people believe that seafood is environmentally sustainable oysters and farm clams for example, and as such think, it’s better to keep up with their diets. Although overfishing is still a concern they feel fish are still more available than other animals, it seems fishing gives them less guilt while doing.


●  Animal right concern:

Animal rights activists have complained about the conventional way of raising poultry and other livestock particularly with the system of confining them in cages and on farms where overcrowding tends to occur. Contrary to this the way fish and other seafood live in the ocean moving freely without excessive confinement even in ponds. They believe it is unethical to keep intelligent animals in such farms with spaces just a bit larger than their sizes.

Furthermore, some are said not to be emotionally strong enough to witness the pain those animals go through when being killed. Fishes on the other hand go through less pain while being processed, it is therefore out of care for animals that they choose pescatarian diets.


●  Personal preference: 

While some may want to explore the different dietary plans and find themselves trying this out, some people choose pescatarian diets for convenience. They feel it is easier to choose from seafood than eating different meats.

Another person’s reason may be that they don’t just like eating mammals or birds, so they stick to Pisces.


●  Health reasons:

Some people may need to start restrictive diets due to health reasons which may be preventive or curative. There are a lot of health benefits that can be gotten from pescatarian diets ranging from protein, vitamins, good fats, and various minerals.

Preventively, some may avoid meat due to digestibility issues or some other health risk from its high level of consumption.

How healthy are pescatarian diets?

There are many benefits of being a pescatarian as you get to combine the benefits of the nutrients of seafood and that of plant-based foods.

Unlike vegetarians, pescatarians get all the carbohydrates, mineral, and vitamin nutrients in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables as well as rich supply Omega-3- fatty acids from their seafood diets. Omega-3- and some other fatty acids present in kinds of seafood are anti-inflammatory and promote the health condition of the heart. It regulates the triglycerides level and also decreases blood pressure. Omega-3- can be gotten from some plant source but at a low level of supply. Having fish as your main source of protein boosts your Omega-3- level which has been found to help against depression, dementia, and some other chronic diseases.

Moreover, pescatarians have the advantage of an adequate supply of vitamin B12 which vegetarians may be deficient in. Vitamin B12 is highly present in animal protein so strict plant-based foods will struggle to keep up with the level whereas fish is also a good supplier. Other nutritional deficiencies like that of iron and zinc in vegan diets are supplemented in the pescatarian diet. Avoid much-fried fish and other seafood as well as processed vegetables, their nutrient level isn’t forthcoming.

Does the pescatarian diet pose any health risks?

A possible health risk that can be experienced by a pescatarian is mercury poisoning. Some fish have a high mercury level and when taken at a high level it may lead to mercury poisoning. If you want to be consuming a pescatarian diet, you should take fish like tilefish, swordfish, and mackerel with low mercury levels to reduce mercury accumulation. Most of the fish we eat daily is of low mercury so they are still rather safe if taken in moderation. Seafood like tuna, salmon, catfish, and sad are generally of less concern with emphasis on moderation.

Be careful of those species that are predators because their level of mercury is multiplied due to the ingestion of other fishes. Some of these fish should be eaten two days a week, for instance, flake, Marlin, broadbill, orange. Vulnerable people like young children, pregnant and breastfeeding women should pay attention to the kind of species in their diet and how often it’s taken.

Also, the level of Iron in fish is low compared to that of meat. Therefore, a pescatarian should take iron-rich plant-based foods to supplement their iron level.


Pescatarian diets are safe and also complete in essential nutrient levels when taken in moderation. You can try out different dishes from the various range of seafood and plant-based foods but people with special health needs should be careful of their choice.

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