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What Is the Pescatarian Diet and Is It Healthy?
What the Pescatarian Diet is All About
Pescatarian dieting puts fish and other types of seafood as the main attraction. In fact, it'll be one of your only sources of protein. So, if seafood isn't your thing, this won't be the diet for you. Other proteins on the menu can include eggs, dairy, and legumes.
Another important aspect of the pescatarian diet is plant life, and some might consider this lifestyle to be a misnomer. That's because Pesce means fish, but most pescatarians load up on plants on a regular basis.
Enough chit chat. We know that you really just want to know what you can and can’t eat on this type of diet. So without further ado, here’s a breakdown of the typical pescatarian diet:
That's right; you'll be eating lots of fish and shellfish on this diet. The pescetarian plan recommends 2 fish meals a week, but practically speaking, most people end up with several more. The fattier the fish, the better too. Opt for cuts of salmon, sardines, mackerel, and tuna to boost your nutrient intake.
Here’s another easy protein that can replace those chicken thighs you’ve been consuming until now. Eggs are jam-packed with goodies like vitamin B2, D, B6, B12, selenium, zinc, iron, and copper. They even have omega-3 fatty acids and come with all nine essential amino acids.
This isn’t a staple, and if you are lactose-sensitive or intolerant, it can be skipped over altogether. For those who do enjoy their dairy, though, the pescatarian diet promotes yogurt, cheese, and milk in generous helpings.
- Beans and legumes
If you aren't a huge fish fan, the pescatarian diet isn't a total bust. You can still enjoy a healthier lifestyle by replacing (or supplementing) fish meals with beans and legumes. These are actually excellent sources of protein. They help people maintain healthy lifestyles and weight levels even when going completely vegetarian. Tofu is also a good replacement for fish and doubles as a tasty protein.
- Fruits and vegetables
No good diet would do well without this category. The pescatarian diet promotes several helpings of fruits and vegetables every day with a good combination of colors and textures to balance out your diet.
- Nuts and seeds
Another great source of protein, nuts and seeds don’t come with any of the adverse additions that animal protein does. Plus, there’s a huge variety of these tasty treats. Nuts are also extremely versatile. You can eat them whole, raw, roasted, or even turned into a paste, butter, or oil.
- Whole grains
Finally, the pescatarian diet recommends eating heart-healthy whole-grain products such as brown rice, whole-grain pastas, and breads. This is also a great way to stay satiated and to add plenty of variety to your diet.
That’s a lot of food, and probably more than you were expecting to see on a dietary restriction list. Yay! Of course, there are still items that you are going to want to avoid on the pescatarian diet. Here are the foods that you should steer clear of if you want to stay true to your pescatarian ways:
- Other forms of animal meat
This is all-inclusive. That means no poultry, beef, lamb, pork, bacon, ham, bison, venison, deli meat, hot dogs, etc. No meat really means no meat.
Why the Diet is Around
In a word, health. The pescatarian diet follows the American Heart Association recommendations almost to a tee. For example, many of the menu choices are recommendations from the AHA. Here are a few reasons people opt for the pescatarian diet:
What you do: Eating 2 fish meals per week.
What you gain: Fish is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. That’s fuel for your heart and cardiovascular system in general. Omega-3s are also anti-inflammatory, making it the perfect choice for heart health, diabetes, cancer, and other common diseases.
What you do: Eat seafood and plants.
What you gain: A smaller carbon footprint. It’s known that harvesting vegetation and catching fish has a significantly smaller damaging effect on the environment.
Benefits of Eating a Diet
Along with the benefits we've already mentioned above, having a plant and fish-heavy diet can dramatically increase your health and longevity. In fact, a wide-spread study was recently conducted across more than 400,000 participants. Analysts found that the more fish people consumed, the lower the rate of mortality risk became, sometimes as much as 9% lower. As mentioned, the omega-3s are anti-inflammatory. Researchers believe these agents to be life-lengthening and the main cause for such drastic differences in fish-eaters.
Eating hearty helpings of fruits and vegetables also increases your overall health. Some benefits include lower blood sugar levels, better cholesterol management, and even more stable emotional and psychological well-being.
Top Tips for Sticking to the Diet
Ready to dive into a pescatarian lifestyle? Before taking the plunge, you should check out these smart tips for sticking to the diet:
Change it up
Everyone knows the adage that variety is the spice of life. If you want to stick to any diet plan, you'll need to include plenty of variety, so things don't get boring after a few weeks. Luckily, the pescatarian diet offers plenty of options. You can really create a huge variety within these parameters. Try making up a monthly menu, focusing on different types of spices, or varying the cooking method you use to spice things up frequently.
Some people come to the pescatarian diet after trying a vegetarian lifestyle unsuccessfully. If that's the case, this option will actually give you more food choices and be a welcome change. However, if you're just starting out on a new diet or lifestyle, it's best to take things slowly. Don't eliminate everything all at once, or you may end up reverting back quickly due to "withdrawal."
Find the fish you like
Fish isn't everyone's...cup of tea. Some people can't stand the fishy taste. If this is you, all is not lost. There are plenty of options that don't include seafood on the pescatarian diet. Alternatively, there are plenty of fish types and recipes that really don't have that fishy taste. Try out some different options to find the one that works for you.