Pescatarian Diet: Pros, Cons, Diet Plan, and More – Healthgrades

A person is eating sushi.


Someone following a pescatarian diet does not eat any meat except fish and seafood. A pescatarian diet can also include dairy, eggs, and plant foods.

The pescatarian diet is sometimes known as a pesco-vegetarian diet, as it is similar to the vegetarian diet. It combines the health benefits of a plant-based diet with the benefits of consuming seafood.

Read on to find out more about the pescatarian diet. This guide discusses the possible disadvantages of the pescatarian diet, what a pescatarian diet plan looks like, and more.

A person is eating sushi.

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There may be health benefits to consuming a well-balanced, mostly plant-based diet.

Eating a meat-free, plant-based diet may reduce your risk of:

It is important to choose whole foods rather than foods that are ultra-processed. This will help to ensure that you consume a well-balanced, nutrient-dense diet.

Benefits of fish and seafood

Incorporating fish and seafood into your diet may have various health benefits. They are a good source of vitamins and minerals.

Oily fish also contains omega-3 fatty acids, which can be beneficial for your heart. They can help prevent heart disease and also provide a good source of vitamin D.

Before making significant changes to your diet, it is important to understand any possible disadvantages or health risks.

Consuming a restricted diet may increase your risk of deficiency in certain essential nutrients. These can include:

Contact your doctor for advice before making changes to your diet. They may refer you to a dietician or nutritionist who can help ensure you get enough nutrients.

A healthy, well-balanced pescatarian diet plan should contain all of the essential nutrients that you require.

It is important to contact your doctor, dietitian, or nutritionist before making any significant changes to your diet. They can help you design a balanced, nutrient-rich meal plan.

The following is a guide to some foods you might incorporate into a pescatarian diet.

Seafood that provides a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids includes:

  • salmon
  • sardines
  • tuna
  • mackerel
  • herring

Seafood that contains a lower amount omega-3 fatty acids includes:

Vegetarian sources of omega-3 fatty acids include:

  • canola oil
  • soybean oil
  • flax seeds or flaxseed oil
  • chia seeds
  • walnuts
  • tofu and other soy-based foods
  • eggs enriched with omega-3

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), an adequate daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids for an adult is 1.1–1.6 grams (g).

Oily fish is a good source of vitamin D. Types of oily fish include:

  • salmon
  • sardines
  • herring
  • pilchards
  • trout
  • mackerel
  • sprats

Vegetarian sources of vitamin D include:

  • egg yolks
  • fortified cereals
  • fortified fat spreads
  • fortified soy milk or milk alternatives
  • some mushroom varieties

The recommended daily intake of vitamin D for an adult is 600 international units (IU).Find out more about the sources and benefits of vitamin D.

Shellfish is a good source of vitamin B12. Clams in particular are a good source of vitamin B12, as they contain more per serving than any other food.

Vegetarian sources of B12 include:

  • dairy products
  • eggs
  • some vegetarian sausages and burgers
  • some soy drinks

The recommended daily intake of vitamin B12 for an adult is 2.4 micrograms (mcg).

Learn more about foods that contain vitamin B12 and symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency.

Types of seafood rich in iron include:

  • mackerel
  • sardines
  • tuna
  • haddock
  • oysters
  • shrimp
  • clams
  • scallops

Vegetarian sources of iron include:

  • leafy green vegetables
  • legumes
  • dried fruits
  • whole grains
  • tofu
  • fortified cereal products

The recommended daily intake of iron for adults is 8 milligrams (mg) for males and 18 mg for females. For females over 50, the recommended daily intake is 8 mg.Find out more about the symptoms of iron-deficiency anemia.

Fish is a good source of protein.

Vegetarian sources of protein include:

  • seeds
  • nuts
  • soy products such as tofu and tempeh
  • whole grain cereals such as oats and barley
  • legumes such as peas, beans, and lentils
  • pseudocereals such as quinoa and amaranth

The recommended daily intake of protein for a sedentary adult is 46–56 g.

Learn more about sources of protein.

Seafood that can provide a good source of calcium includes:

  • canned sardines with bones
  • canned salmon with bones
  • canned shrimp

Vegetarian sources of calcium include:

  • dairy products
  • nuts such as almonds and Brazil nuts
  • legumes
  • dark green leafy vegetables
  • fortified plant-based milk drinks, cereals, and fruit juices
  • tahini or sesame seed paste
  • some tofu products

The recommended daily intake of calcium for an adult is 1,000–1,200 mg.

Find out about the symptoms of calcium deficiency.

Seafood high in zinc includes:

Vegetarian sources of zinc include:

  • whole grains
  • nuts
  • legumes
  • wheat germ
  • miso
  • tofu

The recommended daily intake of zinc for an adult is 8–11 g.Find out about the symptoms of zinc deficiency.

Consuming a pescatarian diet may help with weight loss. A meatless diet rich in whole foods typically contains fewer calories than a diet containing meat.

It is important to get regular exercise in addition to consuming a healthy, balanced diet.

Contact your doctor for advice on consuming a pescatarian diet for weight loss.

Find out more about when to consider professional help for weight loss.

Contact your doctor before making any significant changes to your diet. They may refer you to a dietitian or nutritionist who can help you transition to a pescatarian diet.

If you decide to remove meats from your diet, starting with small steps can help to ease the transition. Try removing one type of meat per week such as red meat or poultry. Then, slowly increase the variety of fish in your diet.

Stocking up on healthy plant- and fish-based foods can encourage you to eat more pescatarian meals. It will also ensure you get all the nutrients you need. Try out new recipes to help keep meals interesting as you adapt to the new diet.

Contact a doctor or dietitian for advice on how to safely remove meat from your diet. They can help you design a plan to gradually transition to new foods.

Pescatarianism is similar to vegetarianism but includes fish and seafood.

The flexitarian diet is similar to a pescatarian diet. It is a mostly plant-based diet with the inclusion of seafood. However, someone following a flexitarian diet also consumes small portions of meat periodically.

Other types of vegetarian or plant-based diets include:

  • Lacto-ovo-vegetarian: This includes plant foods, eggs, and dairy.
  • Lacto-vegetarian: This includes plant foods and dairy but not eggs.
  • Ovo-vegetarian: This includes plant foods and eggs but not dairy.
  • Vegan: This includes only plant foods.

Learn more about vegetarian diets.

A pescatarian diet is a plant-based diet with the inclusion of fish and seafood. It provides the health benefits of a vegetarian diet with the benefits of consuming fish, particularly oily fish.

Contact your doctor if you are considering a pescatarian diet. They may refer you to a nutritionist or dietitian who can help you gradually transition toward a pescatarian eating plan.



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About the Author: Eugene Berry